Application of UDL Principles

After learning about Universal Design for Learning and its three properties (multiple means of representation, expression and action, and engagement), I realized that my lesson from the Lesson Plan (Re)Creation leaves a lot to desire. The following table shows in blue text properties of UDL that I believed were already displayed in the lesson and in red text what I needed to change in order to reach more students.

The updated lesson plan follows. The different colors represent aspects of the lesson that already fit the three principles of UDL and parts that I modified in order to fit the principles. See the color coding key in the upper right corner.

The biggest change I made to my lesson was that I created a corresponding PowerPoint that will serve many purposes. First of all, all of the information presented in the lesson will be embedded and organized in the PowerPoint. I also added slides with pictures and text to appeal to visual learners. Before I created the PowerPoint, I was planning on presenting information orally with just a few visual aids that I would have had to bring up in an Internet browser. The PowerPoint in itself is an assistive technology because it is reaching more learners than my original plan would have. The embedded slideshow is the PowerPoint as uploaded into a Google Presentation. Please note that many of the images are actually embedded videos that will only play in a PowerPoint.

I did struggle with finding a way to allow choices of media for communication. At this point in my lesson development, students are expected to share answers verbally, sing using their understanding of vocal technique, and write reflections using pencil and paper. I realize that it would be beneficial to allow an option to type answers (or maybe even something else), but I feel that if I offered that option I would be pushing technology into the lesson rather than pulling it in. While students are using pencil and paper to reflect, I will be listening to other students sing in small groups. If I gave students the option of using laptops or iPods for their written reflections, it would be difficult to monitor the technology use and perform my small group assessments simultaneously. I am not seeing the options for allowing choices of media for communication, but hope to discover that accommodation before I use this lesson. For now, I will plan on students using a pencil to complete this worksheet.

Finally, I would like to reflect on the applications of the seven guiding principles of UDL according to King-Sears.

  1. Flexibility in use- This lesson on vocal technique accommodates preferences and abilities of different students by presenting information in many different ways: orally, through physical demonstration and interactive physical activities, videos, and diagrams. All representations complement each other.
  2. Equitable use- Projecting a PowerPoint presentation that organizes the information and media makes learning the content accessible for all students. The PowerPoint was created with a specific group of students and their domain knowledge in mind.
  3. Perceptible information- King-Sear’s description of this principle reminds me of TPACK. “It is how the technology is used, in conjunction with the pedagogy of clear verbal explanations, that results in universally designed instruction that is responsive to the needs of students with LD” (200). This lesson includes a wealth of verbal explanations, but each explanation is paired with a picture, video, or list of expectations.
  4. Tolerance for error- This principle is VERY important in my performance-based classroom. In fact, my principal even pointed this out as one of my strengths in my third evaluation. She mentioned that my classroom must be a safe environment for students because they are willing to admit to their mistakes. This lesson in particular fits this principle because it is about learning skills for students to practice in order to learn to do their best. I encourage students to set goals and do their best, but I never push perfection.
  5. Simple and intuitive use- Since the terminal objective of the lesson is to have students perform using the skills they learned, the content is presented mainly by guiding students in practicing the skills they will need  to succeed. The skills will be modeled, mirrored, repeated, and critiqued so students know at all times what is expected and how they are doing.
  6. Low physical effort- Information in the lesson is presented to the students without requiring them to use a book or a computer. As long as they are listening and participating, the physical effort of learning should be fairly low. I do not believe that this principle applies to the fact that students will actually be expected to perform physical exercises.
  7. Size & space for approach & use- Consideration was given in the creation of the PowerPoint to make text, videos, and images as large as possible using dark colors. Information is uncluttered. Only the necessary amount is given to aid students in comprehension of verbal explanations.

I feel that after planning this lesson using Instructional Design (specifically backward design) and applying principles of UDL that it will be one of the strongest lessons I have prepared. It has taken me approximately 10 hours to put together, though. With fourteen lessons to prepare each week, I find it unrealistic to plan each lesson in this manner. I am grateful for the opportunity to give so much thought to this plan and hope that it will set a standard for my lessons in the future.

Works Cited:

King-Sears, M. (2009). Universal design for learning: Technology and pedagogy. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32(4), 199-201. http://maetdubliny12012.wikispaces.com/file/view/KingSears-2009-UDL%26Tech.pdf

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