UDL is a Standards-Based Curriculum Design

UDL is a Standards-Based Curriculum Design

All too often, when I speak with teachers about integrating Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into their classrooms, I get feedback that it simply isn’t possible. “I can’t provide options; I teach math.” “I have standards I need to meet, so options are off the table!”  UDL is a standards-based curriculum design. This means it can be incorporated into any learning environment, regardless of subject, content, or standards. Let me explain. When creating a UDL lesson plan, you need to start with the standard. First, determine if your standard is a content standard or a method standard. Content standards are

Growth Mindset: Teaching Your Students to Be Expert Learners

Growth Mindset: Teaching Your Students to Be Expert Learners

When I taught English years ago, I was dealing out tattered paperbacks of the classics like it was my life’s calling. The whole class read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and then the whole class read Old Man and the Sea. I excitedly circulated the books, week after week, to groaning middle-schoolers slumped in their chairs. After we read, I gave a test and some students got As and others earned Fs and they were all left feeling like being a good student was a prize. Good grades were bestowed upon those students who either a) were proficient readers or b) were creative

The Redesigned is SAT coming. Be prepared.

On January 15, I attended a presentation by Alan Bernstein, Senior District Director, K12 Services, at the College Board. The presentation focused on the release of redesigned SAT in spring 2016. Given what I learned, we, as educators, need to begin preparing for these transitions right away. Our current tenth graders will have a very different experience on the SAT and we owe it to them to prepare. Luckily, many of the transitions align to shifts we’ve already made with the Common Core. First, a note on organization. There will be 3 sections in the new SAT – only two

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

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

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

How to Balance Common Core Shifts and ELA Instruction

Having the Common Core Standards led me to modify instruction in a number of ways. I’ll discuss the major changes based on the instructional shifts outlined for the Common Core ELA standards: Shift 1: Balancing (how cute is that elephant?) Informational & Literary Text Shift 2: Knowledge in the Disciplines These requires students to learn about the world through many different varieties of text, rather than through teachers and literature. They are encouraged to explore the world through a rich combination of fiction and non-fiction. To accomplish this, I recommend constructing text sets that allow students to examine a different

Education and the Employment Gap

I just read the newest data from the National Center for Educational Statistics and the stats are alarming. Among 25-34 year olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher, 95.1% are currently employed.  Compare that to only 57.7% of 2012 high school graduates (who did not attend college) who are currently employed. The most recent data is from 2012. BCC. Before Common Core. What’s the message? Our students need preparation for college or a specific career to be employable. After reading the statistics, I did a little research on the employment gap and discovered an awesome video produced by McKinsey &Company.

Free Common Core posters!

A while back, I posted a photo on Twitter of posters I designed for teachers in grades K-4 with all ELA standards. Below are the files if you’d like to use them. For poster size, ask Staples or your local printer to double the size of the file. For more ideas on heightening the salience of goals and objectives or other UDL strategies, pick up a copy of my book, UDL Now! to learn about implementing Common Core Standards using Universal Design for Learning. If you buy in bulk, you can receive a big discount. Learn more about it here.