Gent: Laying the Foundation for UDLL

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to keynote the UDLL Conference: A European Perspective on UDL, in Gent, Belgium. This collaboration, which includes 170 ambassadors from 11 countries in Europe, is a testament to what Universal Design really means. The principles and Guidelines of UDL apply to all learners around the world and prove that best practices in education have no geographical borders. UDL is built on a foundation that all learners are different, and yet they are the same. Regardless of variability or place of origin, all learners need a motivating environment with embedded options for engagement, representation, and action and expression. The European perspective,

UDL and Growth Mindset

We are all familiar with the classic child’s tale, The Little Engine That Could. Her mantra, which has become a cliche in the world of perseverance, “I think I can, I think I can,” is a valuable message that we, as educators, need to embrace. Our district is finalizing our five year district strategy; one area of focus is the importance of growth mindset for all stakeholders, and I’m taking this to heart. Growth mindset, the work of Carol Dweck, renowned Stanford professor, is based on the simple premise that as humans, we are much more likely to succeed if we believe that

UDL. Why now?

We are lucky enough to live in a world that is becoming increasingly more inclusive. By inviting all learners in our classrooms, we are teaching students valuable lessons in diversity, acceptance, and the value of inclusion. Most importantly, we are providing a rigorous, engaging education to all our students, which is imperative for their future success. Opening classroom doors and welcoming students in, an important step in the process, does not guarantee a quality inclusive education. This requires professional development, so teachers can learn the strategies and skills to integrate learners of all variability into the folds of teaching and learning. I work

Formative vs. Summative Assessments

This morning I was checking out the question and answer forum on the TeachingChannel and I came across a question about the different types of assessments. Given that a new school has kicked off, I think it’s a perfect time to explore the differences between formative and summative assessments and how they align to the UDL framework. To begin, any assessment that informs instruction is super valuable, and these are often administered before teaching a unit of instruction. Sometimes these assessments are called diagnostic assessments and other times they are called formative assessments, but the purpose is the same. When

The Collaborative Classroom Management Plan

A reader of my blog recently asked for additional details about how I created a collaborative classroom management plans in my middle school classroom. I thought I’d share my reply, as it’s that time of year when we’re thinking about setting up our learning environments for the school year. On the first day of school, I always reviewed the UDL Guidelines with students to give them a sense of the type of instructional strategies I would use throughout the year. Details of this lesson are in my book, UDL Now! if you’re interested. Two of the UDL Guidelines suggest that teachers

The Making of a UDL School: UDL School-Wide Implementation

Last week at the UDL Seminar hosted by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and CAST, Adam Deleidi, from Revere Public Schools, shared the process his school went through to fully implement UDL. His experience may help you to implement UDL in your own school. Step 1: Educate The first goal was to educate as many teachers as possible in the UDL framework. UDL is not an initiative and it’s not something else to do. It lives in every decision you make, and will affect your learning environments on every level. Even though many teachers already use some

The Interrater Reliability Protocol: A Must-Have for Writing Assessment

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) require writing across the content areas, which places a renewed focus on the meaningful assessment of writing. Although rubrics are valuable for both teachers and students, there are two potential errors that can lead to very different assessments using the same rubric. Becoming familiar with these sources of error, and following a protocol to minimize them, will enhance the capacity of all teachers to reliably assess student work and provide mastery-oriented feedback. What are common sources of error? Interactions between students and raters: Because teachers know students so well, they sometimes predict how students

Writing Your Professional Practice Goals the UDL Way

The end of one educator evaluation cycle means the beginning of a new one. As I think of my own professional practice goals (PPG) for next year, I realize that the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can positively impact the goal setting process for all of us. When setting PPG, remember that you are a learner, and that your goal should guide you to learn. Malcolm Knowles (1984) proposed six assumptions regarding the characteristics of adult learners that differentiate them from child learners and all of these impact the goal-setting process. Adults tend to see themselves as more

Lesson Plan for Beowulf

Right now I’m feverishly trying to keep up with an awesome #ECET2 Twitter chat. I just got a question about using all 9 UDL Guidelines (teaching strategies) in each lesson, so here is an example to show how it’s done. This is the lesson outline for a lesson I taught for a Teaching Channel video. Let me know how it goes! Description: Students will practice writing narratives with descriptive details by participating in a Showing, not Telling engaging activator and by examining text, images, and audio recordings through reading Beowulf. Prerequisites: Introduction to Book Builder and how to use built in scaffolds; introduction to how to

Close Reading and Shared Reading: What’s the Difference?

Adoption of the Common Core in ELA has become synonymous with close reading. Many teachers are left to wonder, Does close reading replace shared reading? Is it the same thing? Can you do both? To answer those questions, I read the book, “Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to Teach Reading Well,” by Regie Routman, and “Closing in on Close Reading” by Nancy Boyles to solidify my understanding of both concepts. After reading, I came to the following conclusions. Hopefully they help you to wrap your head around the concepts a little better. Shared Reading Shared reading is an instructional