Throughout the course of eight weeks I have participated in online discussions regarding UDL and DI through a social collaboration site and Walden’s class discussion boards. Through the social collaboration site created by my group and weekly discussions my colleagues and I have shared a variety of resources and tools to help implement UDL and DI into our classrooms. Through resources such as the udlcenter.org I have been able to learn and better understand the purpose behind Universal Design for Learning also known as UDL. The main principle behind UDL is to provide an opportunity for all types of learners to learn and that there is no single approach that works for all students. As educators we need to know our students interests, learning styles and readiness levels in order to provide them with an engaging learning experience. One way of reaching our students is to provide them with variety and options for learning new content as well demonstrating content they have learned. In order for this to occur it is important to differentiate our instruction and incorporate as much technology into our lessons as we possibly can. Differentiating Instruction (DI) allows educators to create activities and assessments that target the different interests, learning styles and readiness levels of students.
I have come across several resources that I have found useful to help me incorporate the concepts behind UDL and DI into my classroom this coming school year. The majority of the resources I have found are online, which is a positive thing because they all allow me to provide learning options for my students through the use of technology. The following websites/resources which I have found useful and will be using are:
MOODLE(accessible through my school district)
The resources listed above provide different ways for my students to learn and display content they will learn in my social studies classroom. The first website is a great way for students to learn how to organize their thoughts and ideas by creating their own interactive graphic organizers. Having taught ELLs for almost five years it has come to my attention that they really enjoy graphic organizers. Rather giving them one I create or copy out of a resource book this gives them the opportunity to use the computer and be creative by creating their own graphic organizer. Websites such thinkfinity.org and readwritethink.org provide a wide variety of resources for teachers and students to learn new content. Readwritethink.org is a great way for me to incorporate language arts into the classroom through interactive activities the site has online for students. These sites not only give me and my students options for teaching and learning they are also technology based.
Coming from a district that has focused on integrating the principles of UbD (Understanding by Design) a teaching methodology that focuses on creating learning environments with the learner in mind, I will be supported in using the concepts of UDL and DI in my classroom. My district has also been focusing on providing a quality education geared towards the 21st century learners that sit in our classrooms. One way is to bring in new technology and methods of teaching our students both inside and outside of the classroom. This summer I was trained on how to use MOODLE and GOOGLE applications to teach my students. MOODLE allows me to create an online classroom experience for my students. Through MOODLE they can continue learning once they leave my classroom by simple logging onto the school site using their school account. Once in MOODLE I can leave assignments that vary from surveys, quizzes, multiple choice, short answer and even scheduled chat times. Through GOOGLE apps such as their email accounts and GoogleDocs students can participate in online discussions and collaborate and group projects. These tech based tools allow me to provide instruction in a new way, allow my students to participate and present what they have learned in a new way as well as continue the learning experience outside of the traditional classroom setting.
Immediate changes that will occur in my classroom in regards to technology integration is to simple add more of it on a regular daily basis. I will be starting off the school year using the MOODLE class accounts I have created for my students. Through MOODLE my students will be able to access important information such as their syllabus, homework resources, and assignments. Once their Google email accounts are assigned I will teach them how to access their Google accounts so that they can begin to participate in online discussion and group collaboration assignments. While they will still take part in traditional practices such as note-taking and paper tests I will also include technology based assignments and assessments. Through this course and other courses I have taken through my program at Walden I have learned that technology is one way of providing instruction and learning to my students. Even though I now have a long list of technology resources/tools it is best that I focus on just a few in my classroom in order to really know how well it works. As I become more comfortable with using technology and other methods of teaching such as differentiated instruction I will be able to add more new ideas and strategies as I go along. It takes time, patience, and a lot of practice before I can even call myself an expert.