In planning an UDL lesson, think about the learning barriers students in your classroom may present in accessing the curriculum so you can brainstorm solutions right away. Think about three aspects of learning as you do this: 1) academic, 2) physical or sensory, and 3) social/emotional.
An example of an academic barrier might be students who lack background knowledge or vocabulary. Some solutions might be having a ‘mini-lesson’ in a small group, an interactive computer program or video to review some of that information. Vocabulary could be pre-taught. Pictures, symbols, and definitions could be added to charts/word cards to help the student access them in the beginning.
Some students have physical/sensory needs. A student with attention deficit may benefit from having a cushion on his/her seat, alternate seating, or from using a fidget.
A student with a hearing impairment will likely benefit from having the closed caption feature added to videos.
A social/emotional barrier might be having students who are disruptive in the classroom. Pre-planning solutions might include using contingency management plans or contracts to shape behavior in addition to having a structured classroom management plan.
When you offer options for learning in this way you not only help the students who specifically need an adaptation for access but you really end up having multiple options that help a lot more students. More details will be provided in this module.
In this section, Ms. Gimble and I will walk you through the UDL lesson planning process that we use based on the background information we have just provided. Before Ms. Gimble and I actually show you one of our lesson plans, however, here is a UDL preplanning template that can provide you with a quick overview of your lesson and individual student needs. It can be used to help you initially map out your topic, lesson activities with assessment, technology/resources needs, lesson extensions, and grouping procedures. Using initials for student names helps keep this information confidential. Be sure to keep this sheet in a safe place.
We will be demonstrating how we use a UDL lesson planning template as we plan our lesson on teaching our students how to use GPS systems using coordinate grids. You will see how we brainstorm possible learning barriers and pair these with possible UDL solutions. We won’t be able to talk about all the details on each slide but you will be able to view them as we go along and download our complete sample plan at the end of this section. There is also a blank template for your own use in the resources section.
Let’s begin by looking at some of the pre-planning activities for our GPS lesson. The more planning we do ‘up front’, the better the lesson. Mr. Smith, our paraprofessional, and our intern divide up these tasks. We already have a lot of this done since it has been part of our larger unit on systems. We had to practice ourselves with the GPS tools to really get a good idea of what we needed. As you can see by our materials, we needed to make the concept as concrete as possible.
These are the materials we will need to gather:
We have some students who struggle with vocabulary. Some are just learning English, some lack the background knowledge, and some are challenged with word retrieval. We try to identify and pre-teach as much vocabulary as possible before the lesson even begins. The vocabulary will be presented visually and auditorily using text, definitions, and pictures/symbols. Students are encouraged to keep vocabulary cards on a ring for easy access. Students will also have access to songs that include these terms and definitions. Sometimes we even train some ‘experts’ to help us with technology tasks or other specific needs we anticipate.
For students who struggle with organizing their thinking, we always provide an advance organizer, agenda, or outline to set the plan for the day. Mr. Clark usually prepares these and posts them in the classroom. Some of our students have self-monitoring sheets so we get those ready. Mr. Clark and I talk frequently about how we will group students. We try to mix these groupings up a bit depending on skill levels, language, interests, strengths and needs, and personalities. I know it must sound like a lot but once you do the bulk of the work up front, it runs pretty smoothly and isn’t any more time consuming than teaching in isolation. In fact, we think our lessons are much better using the given time.
Ms. Gimble always has her content planned out so when we meet we are ready to brainstorm adaptations and divide up responsibilities. I help her ‘translate’ the big ideas and skills for these diverse learners. We are fortunate to have a paraprofessional and intern who plan and teach with us. Sometimes we can have four different stations going! We would like to walk you through our actual plan with the UDL adaptations we’ve been brainstorming. You can see how we take the learner needs and consider UDL applications in this planning stage.
Mrs. Latitude and Mr. Longitude
GPS in Hand