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 multiple genres of text. Albers suggests a “Gallery Walk” where learners walk around the room to view images of people/concepts under study, sample texts, and or posters on the wall, spending time on the artifacts that are most meaningful to them, and a “Book Pass” where students sit with various texts in a circle, passing them every minute. After all materials have circulated, students share a reflection about one thing they learned from their brief perusal of materials.
- Follow your initiating engagements with demonstrations, or teacher-conducted, short strategy lessons intended to clarify structure or features of a text, scaffold a technique, or illustrate a new concept using multi-media, like a Powerpoint.
- After activating and supplying background information and highlighting big ideas, have students engage in text study where you provide various texts: short dramas, Readers Theatre, visual texts, poems, articles, books, or combinations of these. Albers notes, “by providing learners with a range of ways to read…all have the opportunity to participate in the learning, regardless of their language ability.”
All of these techniques can be used to improve the representation portion of your lesson, which will lead to improved student learning outcomes.