This week did not disappoint with UDL practice and I saw more than I’m able to share in this post. If everyone keeps ramping it up like this, I will have to take up video production to record some of your creativity to share with the world. This week I visited classrooms in the middle school and high school and can’t wait to share what I saw.
At the middle school, I got to experience universally designed teaching and learning in the gymnasium, the library, and in the fifth grade wing. When I visited Mr. Lynch in the gym, he shared a universally designed activity. All students wore pedometers and were encouraged to join one of four activities to build teamwork AND maximize their steps. One group of students played a strategy game similar to capture the flag, other students chose to compete in basketball while others played a game that I couldn’t quite figure out and couldn’t ask the students about it because there were so engrossed in the competition that they didn’t notice me standing there.
In the library, Mrs. O’Neill and Ms. Hourani shared an awesome new project they are working on to marry literacy and technology. The Massachusetts Children’s Book Awards (MCBA) recognizes the best young adult books each year and the library features the titles for students to select. This year, the library is getting a green screen so middle school students can record video book reviews after reading the titles. The reviews will be hosted in FlipGrid, the leading video discussion platform used by millions of PreK to PhD educators, students and families around the world. When students come to the library, if they are interested in an award-winning title, they can learn more about it from their peers. Can’t wait to see some of the reviews soon!
When I visited the fifth grade wing, Mrs. Stone shared an amazing narrative writing project that was inspired by the text, I Didn’t Do My Homework Because… After reading the text, fifth graders drafted their own creative excuses, paying attention to building setting, incorporating vivid sensory details and organizing their excuse with a clear conclusion. In the spirit of UDL, students had numerous options to share their narrative: in a written story or speech, a video, song or poem, or multi-media presentation. Giving students these options ensures that all students meet the standard but they also get to practice being self-directed and creative and the results were tremendous. I watched one student’s video that chronicled a hostile take-over by an alien. It was edited, narrated and even had costumes. Ms. Osterholz shared another amazing fully animated Minecraft video while another students shared evidence of an alien abduction – her passport (pictured)!!! These products exemplify the incredible minds of our kids.
At the high school, I decided I wanted to be a HS student so I could take Mr. Wilkin’s ELA class. His students will closely read an excerpt from the text, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter. After analyzing an excerpt of the text, students have the choice to take the cell phone challenge. Apparently, there is an app called Moment that monitors your cell phone usage. From the Moment site, “Moment is an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.” How did I not know about this?! To align with UDL, Mr. Wilkins will encourage students to predict their usage, track it, and then make goals to create more balance in their lives. It’s authentic, reflective and text-based.
What a great week. Until week 4…
And if you don’t want to miss any lessons of the week in the future, follow me at @KatieNovakUDL on Twitter!