Last week I attended a Debbie Miller seminar, and her message aligned beautifully to both UDL and the Common Core. I just have to share.

She began the session by explaining that the Common Core requires in-depth teaching and learning every day and a great way to promote this practice is to have students participant in daily reading workshops. This workshops should be based on the principles of choice, response, and community. These three principles all correspond to UDL guidelines.

Miller suggested beginning each workshop with the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’ Universal Design always encourages teachers to heighten the salience of goals and objectives so students know what standard they are working toward and why it is important, so its great to see that shared with a wider audience. She also noted that sharing the Common Core standard with students, in writing, is hugely important so they can be reminded of the end goal throughout the workshop. After students understand the objective, teachers can deliver a mini lesson that models how students will achieve their objective.

Once students understand the what, the why, and the how, they should be provided with choice on what to read and where to read, so they are engaged in authentic reading in authentic positions. Miller supported this with research by Guthrie and Humenick, 2004, who found that when students are provided with choice on what to read, where to read, and with whom it produced an impact on reading achievement more than three times as large as reported for systematic phonics instruction alone. Awesome!

At the end of readers’ workshop, Miller reminded teachers to provide time to reflect. Some of the most significant learning happens during the reflections because kids are actually teaching what they are learning. Without that, all the valuable skills may fall away. Coming back to talk about what they learned is invaluable because they are making their thinking visible, working toward speaking and listening standards, and it provides an opportunity to informally assess students. This could also be an opportunity to ask students to set personal goals for their next workshop.

So there you have it – an absolute guru in the world of reading aligns her presentations to both UDL and the Common Core. It was a day well spent.

Happy workshopping!

Want Achievement? Provide Choice

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