UDL in Practice · Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Translating the Standards

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In Chapter Six of her book UDL Now!, Dr. Katie Novak presents various options for students to work with the curriculum standards.  Having students engage with the curriculum standards has become all the more important with the publication of the the UDL Progression Rubric:  as we think about empowering students, it becomes critical to find ways for students to interact directly with the curriculum standards.  After all, as teachers, we live and breathe the standards–they drive all of our decisions.  If students are aware of the standards that underpin and drive all of the choices their teachers are making, students can be empowered to be more engaged with the material.

But how to do this?  The standards are a snarl of specific terms and vague wording, designed to leave open all options for assessments.  How will we help students unpack this language?  In addition, there is a question of how we will find the time to this work!  As my colleague, Irene Witt and I, prepare for the 2018-2019 school year, we have been playing around with some of the following ideas:

Offer as a Homework Option

This year, we will be experimenting with using homework as a time to take on important work we don’t have time for, including working with vocabulary and unpacking standards.  As you can see in this screenshot of our ideas for homework options, we are thinking about making work with vocabulary and standards a homework option at key places in each Module.

Sample of a Homework Assignment with a Vocabulary Option

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Hang in the Classroom

When I was visiting colleagues in Cambridge, I saw one room where the standards had been reworked as “I can….” statements and those statements were hanging from the overhead lights.  I think this would be a great way to add color to the room, while also providing an opportunity for students to get peer feedback on their work.

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Presentation to Share with Peers

Another way students might be able to work with the standards could be to do some research on the language and meaning of the standard(s) and to then present their findings through a recording of some kind, such as a FlipGrid or screencast.  Like the papers hanging in the classroom, using a recording provides students with an opportunity to share their work publicly with peers, which provides a meaningful audience.


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