My Two Weeks in Classrooms – October 19, 2017

Had another amazing two weeks in classrooms, visiting Florence-Roche and the middle and the high school. There was so much to share about UDL that I could write a book, but since it’s a blog, you’ll only get a taste.

Last week, we had two administrators from the Oconomowoc School District in Wisconsin come out to visit G-D to view examples of strong implementation of UDL. They visited the middle and high school and were tremendously impressed with the innovation and creativity that went into the lessons they saw, as well as how many choices students had to learn and express their learning. G-D is becoming an amazing destination to see UDL in action!

At the middle school, we saw math in action in Ms. Durling’s and Ms. Witt’s room. Thea Durling is the co-instructor for summer UDL graduate courses in Groton-Dunstable and she and Ms. Witt co-plan their lessons and assessments for grade 7 math using UDL as a foundation. In the lesson we viewed, students had multiple choices of stations to practice using integers. Some students worked on Chromebooks, other chose traditional practice worksheets, and still others competed in math card games that required them to demonstrate fluency.

In grade 8, Ms. Dwyer’s class presented their understanding of convection currents. Students had the option of working alone or collaboratively to create a video, write a blog, create and present a multi-media presentation, among other choices. We were able to see an original episode of “Basement Science,” which featured two students who are on their way to take over Bill Nye, the Science Guy. The engagement was palpable as we saw how much effort went into writing a script, filming the video, adding special effects and still meeting the criteria in the rubric!

IMG_4461At the high school, we visited Ms. Salemme’s class to view the presentations from the Biology II “Lyme Disease and Malaria Jigsaw.” Our personal favorite was a children’s books titled, “Mally D,” which was an age appropriate explanation of how malaria effects people and how it can be prevented and treated. Students had options to build their understanding of the diseases, through the CDC webpage and curated videos and articles. They then had to apply their understanding by creating a product:  options were a multi-media presentation, video, a written product, like the children’s book, or an artistic representation.

In the ELA department, Ms. Butler facilitated a lesson called, “Feedback Fun,” to teach students how to give feedback that matters. She selected excerpts from their argument essays and asked students to critically read through the lens of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, the College Board AP Lang Argument Rubric, and the resources she provided on how to give mastery-oriented feedback to provide targeted feedback that would improve the content of the writing as well as the writer’s craft.

clockThis week at Florence-Roche, there were numerous examples of UDL in every class I visited. In Mr. Crowley and Ms. Green’s classroom, for example, students were focused on learning about time measurement and problem solving. In one station, students created analog clocks so they could challenge each other to a “flashcard” like game of “What time is it?” Other students sat at tables and completed measurement modules on their Chromebooks. While these students worked diligently, both teachers facilitated stations on telling time with a number line. There were also choices of materials within each station, as Mr. Crowley’s table had math workbooks, a large plastic analog clock, number lines and numerous options for flexible seating. Every child in the class was hard at work.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 12.39.56 PMIn the second grade wing, there was a presentation called Eyes on Owls, that made me want to be Harry Potter so I could take the snowy owl home. The students were rapt as a presenter handled numerous owls, shared stories and fun fact, answered questions, and recommended books about owls. The highlight of the presentation was when “Snowy” went to the bathroom on the handler’s arm. It was student engagement at its finest.

Our students, regardless of age, are so incredibly lucky to attend school in Groton-Dunstable. Our teachers are creative, committed to consistent improvement, and are working so hard to provide more choice and voice so all students can increase engagement and learn how to become the best learners they can be!