This week we were asked to revisit our Maker Experiment Activity to revise and reshape using Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST) has defined UDL as: a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all (CAST, 2011). After learning about UDL, I really began to appreciate all the guidelines for ensuring that all students are able to meet learning expectations. CAST helps describe UDL by illustrating a building that has been adapted to meet the needs of people with strollers, wheelchairs, etc. Much like our building and streets have been modified to make it more accessible to all, our classrooms should be the same.
My first maker experiment using the Raspberry Pi did not actually seem feasible. After using the maker kit more, it really would not work as a tool for students to use to design their own experiments with. So the first thing I would change from my first experiment, is to use the Raspberry Pi in a different way with students. Instead of using it to have them design or “make” something, I have would use the Raspberry Pi to make a program for our unit (example, Human Body Systems). Where students would be able to click on the image of the body systems, and information regarding that system becomes available. I would like to include multiple ways that students could gain information. So with each body system, there would be information regarding the overall function of the body system, a section about the organs that are involved (including images), and how the systems of the body work together. Lastly, I would like there to be a section where students could click on a video where a doctor talks about the ways to keep that system of the body healthy.
To support UDL with this unit, I would start by providing multiple means of representation. Examples of this would include a text-to-speech option by hovering the mouse over the written words. Some students would also benefit from having the information boxes themselves in different colors as well as having the text and background colors in contrasting colors. During this unit students would access their preconceptions on organization of organisms from atom to organism which they have already learned. This one activity would fit into a unit where students would be supported by me or other mentors as needed. Including graphic organizers to help make connections between the different body systems, as well as templates and checklists to allow students to stay on track with the learning goals. Lastly, students would receive feedback in a timely manner and in ways that helps promote mastery of the concepts.
Imposing the UDL framework into my maker activity was somewhat of a roller coaster. I felt like the actual maker kit experiment focused more on one lesson whereas implementing UDL tends to lead my focus more on the unit as a whole. While I find great value in all the guidelines set forth by the UDL framework, I did find myself saying “Oh, I already do that in my class!”. For example, posting learning goals, and breaking our goals down into smaller chunks is something we do in my classroom, as well as tracking progress of the learning goal. “Education should help turn novice learners into expert learners—individuals who want to learn, who know how to learn strategically, and who, in their own highly individual and flexible ways, are well prepared for a lifetime of learning” (CAST, 2011). When reading about UDL, I truly agreed that these are things that should be done in the classroom to assure that all learners are given ways to become expert learners and to assure their needs are being met.
CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.