As I shared in a previous post, we have some amazing colleagues who are willing to share their classrooms with me as we collaborate to deliver universally designed lessons!
Two weeks ago, Mrs. Marino, a third grade teacher at Swallow Union, shared her third grade students with me for a math lesson. We had an amazing time pretending to go to a Penny Candy store, where everything was on sale for 6 cents! When presented with hundreds of pennies, students had to problem solve to determine just how many pieces we could buy. They used their problem solving skills to create piles of 6 pennies until we asked the next question, “So, how much money do you have?” Some students counted one by one…others created piles of 10 – there were so many different strategies (none of which included skip counting by 6s, which was a perfect transition to the Eureka lesson!). We then asked, “Would there be an easier way to count up the piles of 6s?” This lead to the lesson on skip counting by 6, using knowledge of base 10, and then we transitioned to the Eureka application problems. At the end of the lesson, students had three options to dive deeper into skip counting by 6 – they could reenact a music video on skip counting, put together puzzles or skip count by coloring multiples on a number line. It was a great way to infuse UDL into our math program! To learn more about the lesson, designed in partnership with Mrs. Marino, Karen Gartland, our math supervisor, and me, click here. We had a blast!
Today, I had an opportunity to see a “dress rehearsal” of one of the coolest final exams of all time. Mr. Siren, our physics teacher at the high school, optimizes UDL in his final exam in a big way. When reviewing all the course standards and learning targets, any standard that wasn’t covered fully during the semester is assigned to pairs of students to study in depth, build knowledge by problem solving and asking questions and finally, they must demonstrate a lesson to the class using universally designed methods as their final. The sky is the limit when they decide how to present to the class (what an AMAZING idea!). Two students created a Ruben’s Tube to demonstrate visually how sound waves relate to sound pressure. It involves lots of tools, a steady hand, and access to a gas line. I googled “how to make a Ruben’s cube,” to share, and here is the general idea.
The students wanted to test out their creation, using the gas lines in the chemistry lab, to prepare for their final presentation. These expert learners drew a big crowd when their Ruben’s Tube reacted to AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. We turned off the lights and the flames danced to the music as the boys explained the math and physics behind the show. The best part of the observation – the teachers did nothing. Three bio teachers, the chemistry teacher, and Mr. Siren were there to observe, but all they did was ask questions, like, “What do you think would happen if you channeled the acoustics from the speaker through a cone?” This was all about the students building their own knowledge and understanding with expert teacher support. The engagement was palpable, the ownership was at the forefront, and the fire was hot. It was a great way to start the weekend.