Week 3

Week 3 — Standards, Models, Rubrics

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about ISTE standards this week as well as exploring SAMR and Jason’s two bonus stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy. These three topics made a tremendous impact on my daily teacher thoughts (yes, it’s summer time but I still think about ways to improve my classroom). But what peaked my interest the most this week was learning about UDL (Universal Design for Learning) and its connection to Alaska’s cultural standards.

Krista James of the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Education communicated in roughly 19 pages how Alaska educators, administrators and support staff need to serve our culturally and linguistically diverse population by systematically changing the educational system so it respects both western culture and other cultures.

What I gathered from James’ journal is that UDL is the core component of the systematic change. UDL is a flexible learning environment that accommodates individual learning differences. James gave few concrete examples of what a UDL classroom looks like, but I did appreciate her explanation where UDL got its roots. It all started in the field of architecture when a group of architects wanted a design process that would produce usable products and environments: Here are those seven principles: 1. Equitable use; 2. Flexibility in use; 3. Simple and intuitive use; 4. Perceptible information; 5. Tolerance for error; 6. Low physical effort; 7. Size and space for approach. These principles weren’t just benefiting people with disabilities, but all people. So why not use this approach in education?

There are three principles of UDL: 1. Multiple means of engagement; 2. Representation; 3. Expression. The first principle is arguably the most important, James writes, because it’s an umbrella phrase that includes giving every student access to learning, supporting them when they meet a challenging task, and building their self-knowledge. If a public school teacher is doing these three things for principle No. 1, I’m going to assume they are a very successful teacher no matter what population they are teaching.

Even though I’m new to this concept, I’m a big believer in UDL. There are ways in which my classroom reflects a culturally responsive environment based on principle No. 1, but at the same time, I know there are other things that can be done better. Thank you, Jason, for linking that journal to this week’s information. Even though she wrote that just down the street from where I live, it’s likely that I would have never found that on my own.

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