Innovations in Lesson Planning
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a way for teachers to design lessons that encourage critical thinking and support a diverse classroom environment.
The New BC Curriculum
In the province of British Columbia, the curriculum is changing. The “new” curriculum emphasizes critical thinking and decision making, as well as acknowledging that every learner learns differently. The curriculum is moving from a criteria based on content knowledge to skills based knowledge. In the age of Google, learners no longer need to memorize facts and figures, they need to be able to sift through information and make critical judgments.
UDL is one strategy for teachers to help achieve these goals in diverse classrooms.
Universal Design for Learning
- Creates classroom environments for diversity. Students are culturally, linguistically, physically, social economically, and cognitively diverse and UDL acknowledges these differences.
- Understands that there is no average student. When curriculum is geared towards the “average” student, many students are left behind.
- Learning activities can be designed to be accessible to all students.
- When design takes into consideration the unique needs of people, more people benefit
- Plans with the needs of all students in mind
Below is a short video from SET-BC on Universal Design for Learning:
The Why, What and How of Learning
Affective Networks: Why do we learn?
To stimulate interest and motivation for learning, teachers can:
- Provide choice and learner autonomy
- Vary activities and sources of information so that they are personalized and contextualized to learners interest
- Foster collaboration and communication
- Teach self regulation techniques
Example: In a Social Studies 10 unit on Confederation:
- Students have a choice of seating, individually or in groups
- Students can choose which stories to read/listen/view about personal experiences in Canada at this time. The stories have a varied length/difficulty as well as different mediums (photos, stories, journal entries, videos)
- Students can engage in different types of learning activities – practicing a role play, reading out loud to classmates, silent reading, or using a tablet to access a video.
- A set amount of class time to conduct research and work on assignments to encourage self regulation.
This also enables the teacher to spend time with students that need more support.
Recognition Networks: What do we learn?
To present information and content in different ways, teachers can:
- Provide information in a variety of ways – through videos, visuals, aural information, stories, news articles, manipulatives and objects
- Clarify vocabulary and symbols, give students the tools to decode subject specific language
- Check and activate background knowledge
- Highlight patterns and relationships
Example: To present information on World War I in a Social Studies 11 class, students:
- Are given primary source documents to analyze,
- Interact with artifacts from World War II Supply Line box from the Canadian War Museum
- Discuss and define vocabulary words, using Quizlet
- Interpret recordings of Canadian soldier experiences
- Reflect on connections to the world today
Strategic Networks: How do we learn?
To differentiate the ways for students to present what they know, teachers can:
- Use tools and assistive technologies (adapted keyboards, smartboards, tablets)
- Use multiple media for communication such as text, speech, drawing, illustration, design, film, music, dance/movement, visual art, sculpture or video,
- Use physical manipulatives (e.g., blocks, 3D models, base-ten blocks)
- Manage information and resources by using graphic organizers and templates for data collection
Students in Social Studies 11 are tasked with a final project to choose an important event from 20th century Canadian history and explain its significance. Students can:
- Plan their assignment and information using teacher provided graphic organizers and templates
- Choose the medium of expression – visual displays, video presentation, visuals, essay,
- Choose whether to work individually or in a small group
Universal Design for Learning has a lot of fantastic online resources for teachers:
Building your UDL Toolkit – From SET BC
UDL Resource – Designed for teachers in BC schools