Sunday, August 18, 2013

Understanding the #UDL Guidelines: Part 2 - Multiple Means of Represenation




In order to solidify a concept, students need to have it represented in different ways (aka Multiple Means of Representation). The back part of the brain or Recognition Network addresses the “what” of learning and is responsible for how we perceive the world around us. 

There's more to it than just showing information in many different ways because it involves giving students opportunities to absorb knowledge in their own way.

How do we use the Recognition Network to provide our students with Multiple Means of Representation? The UDL guidelines provide us with a recipe to provide learners with different student-centered learning experiences to receive the information. These ingredients are:

  • Perception
  • Using Language, Expressions, and Symbols
  • Comprehension
Today's focus will be on the ingredient of perception! 

Perception: 


When we think of perception, many of think of visuals, but this can also mean providing alternatives for auditory information. For example, what if you assigned your students to listen to a podcast that you created and had a student with hearing difficulties? How would this student be expected to complete the same assignment?  One idea may be to have a transcript of the Podcast available for this particular student or any student who wanted to read and listen at the same time.

UDL is all about breaking down barriers! Let's explore some ways to help students perceive information differently. I want to offer you one high-tech and low-tech way of doing this. 

Writing Assignments: "LOW-TECH"

Let’s say that you had a writing assignment for your students. We often limit our students to using notebook paper or Microsoft Word as a way to write. 

What if some of our students had difficulty structuring a paragraph? We may use a hamburger or sandwich graphic organizer to help our students with visualizing how to construct a paragraph.

I received another great idea from an educator in Maryland called the Power Paragraph Organizer, which provides students with color coded lines to help construct a paragraph. 

Red = topic sentence
Green = supporting details
Blue = closing sentence 

Communicating Statistics: "HIGH-TECH"

Some teachers like to communicate statistics to students, but pie charts, percentages, and bar graphs may be more confusing than helpful. This is great for students who like charts, but what about students who don't have the background knowledge to understand the chart?

One popular method is the use of Infographics to communicate basic statistics in creative ways. It combines statistics with visuals.  Want to create your own infograph? A great free site called Piktochart, which will allow you to create innovative Infographics for free!

Conclusion:

Remember that UDL is a framework for designing barrier-free curriculum for all students. It will look different in each classroom; however, the one thing it has in common is providing access for all learners. 

Implementing UDL is a process and involves looking at your curriculum with new eyes and taking baby steps. My next post will continue talking about how we can provide Multiple Means of Representation. 

For more information on UDL, visit CAST or the National Center on UDL.

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