Monday, April 23, 2012

Interactives - a "UDL-Friendly" Site

Universal Design for Learning is a learning concept that is based on scientifically-based research, stating that students need to learn materials by stimulating different brain networks with different means of perception, action, and engagement. When we represent materials in different ways, our student's brains make a "connection" with material. This is why visual learners find it so effective to watch video clips. They may connect with a video example during or after instruction to make connections with material. 

However, in this same classroom, this may not do anything for the "hands-on" learner. So how do we design a curriculum or lesson that stimulates both? We take these learning differences into consideration from the beginning. 

One way to enhance the way that we represent a concept is through simulations or interactive activities. Many of us are not privileged enough to have a full computer lab, however, the following website may be useful with just a laptop and a projector (check out my No Smart Board? No Problem! website for more ideas). The idea is to stimulate different parts of the brain so that our students make a connection with material. 

A great tool for this could be Interactives, a website that is devoted to provide educators and students with "strategies, content, and activities that can enhance and improve students' skills in a variety of curriculum areas."  I loved checking out the 3D Geometry section, where you could interact with 3D shapes on a website and learn Geometry at the same time! There is even an Amusement Park Physics game for students to practice what they learned in class, in a unique way. I call this the "back door" approach, having students learn in a not-so-obvious way. This site provides a variety of activities that could provide different ways of representing material, which in turn, would stimulate the learning process. 

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