Now that Ms. Donaldson has analyzed her instructional materials, it is time for her to also think about her instructional methods. She knows that, based on UDL, her instructional methods need to be just as varied and flexible as her instructional materials, if she is to increase her students’ access to learning. When she looks at the methods she has been using – primarily relying on printed texts and lectures – Ms. Donaldson realizes that she has been unintentionally creating learning barriers for many of her students:

  • She has not sufficiently addressed the fact that the students in her classroom have a wide range of learning preferences.
  • She has relied too heavily on asking students to memorize facts and information rather than encouraging them to develop concepts, problem solve and learn new skills.
  • In doing this, she has promoted passive – rather than active – learning among her students; her students have subsequently not been as engaged in their own learning as they should be.
  • She has not provided enough context and background when introducing new material; this has meant that students who did not already have some background knowledge of the new material have missed out on crucial instruction.

Ms. Donaldson is not going to stop using printed texts and lectures, but she decides that she definitely has to broaden the range of her instructional methods. She finds the following list of techniques on the Iris Center  website. These instructional methods are broken down in terms of the three principles of UDL (representation, action and expression, and strategic):

Instructional Methods to Promote UDL

  • Representation
    • Provide multiple examples
    • Highlight important information
    • Present content utilizing multiple media and formats
    • Build or activate background knowledge
    • Offer print and digital graphic organizers
    • Provide relevant web resources with multiple formats for information (archival magazine, primary source photos, speeches, etc.)
  • Action and Expression
    • Model skills in a variety of ways
    • Provide students with opportunities to practice with scaffolds and supports
    • Provide corrective feedback
    • Allow alternatives for students to express or demonstrate their learning
    • Provide options for creating projects, written reports, multimedia, interviews, etc.
    • Provide specific examples to guide student learning
    • Conference with students throughout the learning process
    • Provide a rubric that outlines expectations
  • Strategic
    • Offer choices of content and tools
    • Provide adjustable levels of challenge
    • Allow students to choose from a variety of reinforcers
    • Utilize flexible grouping
    • Allow students to work individually or in groups
    • Offer opportunities to publish, display, and present final products (school website, student assembly, Back-to-School night, local library, etc.)
    • Provide checklists for students to monitor progress towards completion

After digging a little deeper into these methods, Ms. Donaldson finds ways to incorporate some of them into her unit:

In addition to the printed text, she offers students digital texts that give them the opportunity to access text-to-speech audio; she also directs her students to several videos on the web that especially appeal to her visual and auditory learners.

She pre-teaches some of the new vocabulary and major themes of the unit before delving into the details of the content; she embeds some of this information in both the printed and digital texts for her students.

She offers her students both print and digital graphic organizers to help them better understand the content and the process for their responses to the content.

Rather than relying only on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, she provides her students with a list of relevant web resources – archival magazine and newspaper articles, documentary images, famous speeches – that provide many examples of the concepts that she wants her students to explore. These resources are broken down on her list in order of complexity; the students can choose the resources that seem to be at the right level for them.

She encourages students to create projects other than written reports; she shows them examples of various kinds of multimedia projects and meets individually with each student to discuss and begin to plan their projects.

She develops a grading rubric that will help her provide meaningful feedback to every student in her class regardless of the kind of project they create; she shares this rubric with the students before they begin their work on the projects to set clear performance expectations.

Ms. Donaldson wants to bring even more UDL ideas to her instructional methods, but decides that for now, this is an excellent start.

REFLECTION

Consider your teaching methods in the context of the three principles of UDL (representation, action and expression, and strategic).

  • Are you using multiple ways to present material to your students?
  • Are you giving your students multiple ways to demonstrate what they are learning?
  • Are you giving them multiple ways to engage with the material?