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  • Amy Elston
    Guest
    Post count: 65

    Since beginning the Foundations for Designing for Equity and Access for All Learners Course I found myself thinking differently about lesson plans and implementing instruction differently. I even found myself including UDL and equity ideas into the trainings and presentations I was giving. My eyes were opened to the importance of giving our students learning and sharing options, but also how necessary it is to offer and encourage our students to self-reflect on how they learn. By giving our students an opportunity to think about how they learn we are inviting them to the table not just throwing things at them that they do not have the tools to catch.

    I am six weeks in to a 16 week course. I decided to offer more options for students to share homework. I am an Illinois Language Arts Content Standards trainer with the Central Illinois Adult Education Service Center. So While integrating UDL and equity strategies, I do not want to ignore the standards. What I have discovered is that instructors need to. Here is an example of how I have implemented some UDL strategies into my instruction while maintaining the rigor of the standards: I have a few students that struggle to write. They are challenged by typing and spelling the words and arranging the words to form a cohesive sentence. So I encouraged these students to first focus on one assignment. Then, respond to the prompt orally with me or in a recording. Then together we transferred this to writing. They listened to themselves and then wrote the sentence or sentences. For one of my students we were fortunate to get an eight word sentence. But the sentence she gave was solid. She made an inference based on textual evidence and she wrote a grammatically correct sentence. I have a class of 14. Not all of my students need to apply all of these strategies to write a sentence, but I am so glad that for those who need it they now have it.

    I hope in future to offer more options like this. My plan next week is to offer to students that need more time to apply such a technique in-class time to do this. Meaning I intend on offering some students the option of not doing everything with the class but rather breaking out to work on specific skills such as this. I do not think I would offer it to everyone, because for some, it would not be appropriate and actually recording themselves they may find frustrating. I think this is why UDL is effective, because it is offering options that fit individual needs. Not everyone needs the same options and actually, too many options may hinder some students. I am excited to see where these new strategies take my students.

    Erin Vobornik
    Guest
    Post count: 65

    Amy,

    That is a great idea about recording it and then typing what they said. I tend to ramble when I speak, so as a student it would not be beneficial for me — but that’s what is great about learner variability. It doesn’t matter if it’d help me; it helps someone else. Or perhaps, I’ll find myself struggling to write something, and I’d remember what you said and have another option instead of feeling lost, stuck, or deficient.

    I love that you include UDL strategies in your presentations. Virtual PD has illuminated barriers to learning that I did not know I had. The way that information is presented and the options for access that are given (re: UDL) have made all the difference.

    Amy Keslinke
    Guest
    Post count: 65

    Amy, I really like this strategy you used to break down writing a cohesive sentence. I am in uncharted territory for me this semester and have some students who struggle with writing more than I’m used to, so I will definitely be trying this.

    Sarah Goldammer
    Guest
    Post count: 65

    Amy,

    Thanks for your thorough reflection and for providing so many examples of infusing UDL into your instruction. I love that you focus on the fact that many times we ask students to complete a variety of tasks at one time. Struggling with one of these tasks makes it look like they are not able to do other tasks which may not be true at all! Sounds like you have had solid success breaking assignments into parts. Thanks for providing the stepping stones your students need to get across the stream and for providing opportunities for self-reflection. I know as you continue to think about infusing UDL – and attend the Institute – you will find even more ways to set the table for learning!

    Thanks for all you’re doing to reach your students!

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