As I move into my third-ish year of “doing UDL,” it seems like a good time to stop and reflect on some of my more spectacular failures in learning about and implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
Replacing Teacher Instruction….completely
A few years, when the projector in my classroom died for the final time, I was given a television, an Apple TV, and an iPad to replace it. I began recording my lessons as I taught, using the EduCreations app to record my writing and my voice on the white board on the screen. At first, I just posted those videos in Google Classroom for students to use.
Then, I decided that, since I was teaching the same lesson four times (which gets insanely boring incredibly quickly), I would just record the lesson in the first class of the day and then I would play it for my students in the other classes. I thought this was a great plan–after all, I was doing something “cool” and “innovative” and was also being efficient all at the same time.
When I look at this choice with the lens of UDL, I realize that my decision to record and play my lesson was as bad as just lecturing the students, class after class, because I had not provided any choice. All students were required to watch the video, even when that wasn’t their preference for learning.
The Failure as it Looks Today
Today, I continue to record my lessons, although, as I dive deeper into UDL, I do less and less full-class instruction (see Dr. Katie Novak’s blog post on the Death of Lecturing). But, these days, I always offer what I call the “live version” of my planned instruction–I learned my lesson all those years ago when a parent came in and asked me when I planned to start teaching. With that conversation in mind, I always offer the option to teach the lesson.
This year, I have pushed myself even further by writing my evaluation goal to include providing options for instruction–on days when I am planning a full-class mini-lesson on a given topic, students have the option of experiencing this in the “live” version or via an EduCreations video I have saved from earlier years. That’s much better UDL!