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Thinking about UDL: Who were your favorite teachers? How were they UDL?

"Kem, look at your lessons. Embedded in your work as a teaching artist is UDL." Stephen calmly coached me. I was freaking out about UDL when I first encountered it two years ago as a VSA Teaching Artist Fellow. Oh no! Not another education theory. Grrrrr.

I was not a traditional student. I was an unidentified student living with a disability. Most teachers found me annoying, incorrigible and stubborn. They did not realize that my disruptive behavior was a mask to the fact that I could barely read and hardly comprehend what they said in their long, tedious lectures.

Something in what Stephen said triggered a thought. Before I analyzed my own work, I needed to think and to reflect on the work of the teachers that reached me. The teachers who reached me may not have heard about UDL, but they definitely modelled UDL. When I think about options in Representation. These master teachers did not talk content at me. They showed, and let me touch my content. I remember Mr. Erhardt getting us to bake a cake in lab when we talked about chemical change in 8th grade physical science. As we were licking the chocolate frosting, he asked us if we could deconstruct our cake back to the original ingredients: flour, eggs, salt, baking soda and powder. He showed us that a chemical change is permanent and not reversible in a delicious way! Teachers like Walter Erhardt inspire me to provide my students with multiple entry points into content, create options in expression and vary ways student engage in the classroom. I use UDL to prepare my lessons and also to self-evaluate in my reflection process.

 

 

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Comment by Kim Willey on December 6, 2011 at 9:39pm

Hi Kem!

Thanks for sharing your experience! 

Here is a memory I have of one of my favorite teachers in high school, Mrs. Becker who used Checkpoint 2.5 in her instruction.

1984 by George Orwell is one of my favorite books.  Mostly because now, I can whip out some Newspeak in a casual conversation.  My teacher, Mrs. Becker, noticed that our class was having a difficult time learning and remembering this new fictional language, so she decided to create a vocabulary list for the class.  In addition to writing the actual definition on a plain 8x11 inch sheet, Mrs. Becker provided us the opportunity to create a secondary definition (with more common terms), develop graphic representations of each word, and then act out each word.  Mrs. Becker also took photos of the class acting out various words, printed them out and placed them onto posters. This process repeated each time we encountered a new Newspeak word.

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