A Universally Designed Ride on the Polar Express?

A Universally Designed Ride on the Polar Express?

I experienced something with my six-year-old son last weekend. The incident made me realize that it’s possible… just maybe…that I am nailing this parenting thing. Last weekend, we headed up to North Conway, New Hampshire with my parents, my sister and her family, my husband, and our four kids. In typical Novak fashion, we all purchased matching pajamas, rented a beautiful home called the Tin Mine Lodge lodge and spent hours eating popcorn, M&Ms, and having an epic Christmas movie marathon. On Saturday night, we had tickets to go the Polar Express. On the train car, Christmas music blared through

I’m Thankful for Teachers

I'm Thankful for Teachers

As I sit down at my computer on this Thanksgiving morning, I can’t help but think of how thankful I am for all the teachers in my life. As the daughter of two teachers, my life, from my first breath, was impacted by educators. Now, as I look back, I realize that many of the people who truly mattered to me stood at the front of classrooms. These thoughts are in light of a recent Forbes article which celebrated the “Top 30 Under 30” in education. Not a single classroom teacher made the cut. It would be ridiculous if it

Announcing Let Them Thrive

Parent Guide to UDL

This past year, I often found myself wishing I were blogging more. There is just so much to cover in education, and I want to share everything I can to help teachers and administrators successfully implement UDL and transform education. However, my lack of posts over the last 12 months wasn’t that I wasn’t writing. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I found that while more and more teachers and administrators were getting on board with UDL, the more important it became for parents to understand the UDL framework, why it is being implemented in schools, and how they

The Death of Lecturing and Rise of UDL

The death of lecturing and rise of UDL

“Anyone, anyone?” The air is filled with silence. The boredom in the room is palpable. You are the real-life version Ben Stein’s economic teacher portrayal on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and it’s pretty embarrassing. It’s not your fault. Today’s kids are running on empty. They are multi-tasking out of their minds, and are taking part in the 8 billion times a day Americans are checking their phones. Distractions are everywhere and when left to their own devices (literally!), children never have to feel boredom. The rise of technology has made it very easy for us, and our students, to become

Summer Reading Magic

I have to start off by saying that I work with the most amazing teachers in the universe. My high school English department, lead by chair, Kelly Cook, is just one example of how the kids in our two towns hit the jackpot. Last week Cook sent me the department’s UDL-ified summer reading revamp, appropriately titled, “Summer Language Exploration” which started off with words, “We used to limit this assignment to summer reading only, but we know that many students are ardent viewers,  creative writers, journalists, movie makers, actors, vocabulary vultures, conversationalists, storytellers, and more. We want them to tap into their passions,

Vermont + UDL = Magic!

Hello fabulous Vermonters! I have had a wonderful day collaborating with you! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all worked in the same district? Magic! I wanted to share the Powerpoint I presented. You are welcome to use/revise and share with your staff. Also, feel free to contact me any time. You can reach me in any/all of the following ways: Email: novak414@gmail.com Twitter handle @KatieNovakUDL LinkedIn Facebook Lastly, a few of you asked about my book, UDL Now. You can purchase UDL Now! on Amazon or if you are interested in buying bulk and receiving a huge discount, contact CAST directly. For 10-49

Kia ora ULearn 14!

Thank you for the kind welcome to New Zealand. I am honored to give a keynote address and present two break-out sessions at ULearn14 in Rotorua. If you’re interested in any of the presentations or handouts, you can access them here. Also, additional resources are provided if you wish to explore the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines in more detail. Don’t forget to connect at #ULearn14 on Twitter! Keynote Presentation: Thursday, October 9 View Thursday Key Note Powerpoint in Google docs Download Thursday Key Note Powerpoint to your device To view UDL Guidelines, click here If you want to explore the UDL Guidelines

Why We Need Visual Texts in the Classroom

Lesson for the Day: Supplementing verbal text with visual text helps to create a universally designed curriculum for all learners. In “Finding the Artist Within,” Alber discusses the importance of blending traditional literacy instruction with art and media-rich text, but her ‘focused study’ design encapsulates the principles of UDL. In order for students to “become thoughtful and critical consumers of text” (p.197), teachers must use multiple representations. Some of the strategies discussed in the text are below. At the beginning of a lesson, plan for initiating engagements. These ‘engagements’ activate students’ background knowledge by providing them with opportunities to explore

Common Core: We Cannot Turn Back

There is so much energy that goes in to opposing the Common Core. How much more beneficial would it be to expend that energy trying to understand the Core and make it work? My professional opinion? Infinitely. Every student in this country, regardless of zip code, deserves access to a rigorous education. Rigor in one state should not be different than rigor in another. Since teachers design standards-based lessons, the Core allows them to design a well-developed curriculum (as the Core is not a curriculum – see post here) and choose appropriate instructional methods (like UDL!) to help all students

Common Core is Not a Curriculum

I am so lucky to have personal connections with some of the most talented teachers in the country (as evidenced by our photo at Education Nation in NYC). What do we have in common? Our support for the Common Core and our willingness to speak up about its value for students. Some opponents of the Common Core argue that the Core is a curriculum that exposes students to inappropriate content or teaching methods. This is not true. An examination of the Common Core will reveal a collection of rigorous standards, or skills, that students need to become successful adults. Instructional