UDL Lesson Makeover: 1893 World's Fair Project

One of the most exciting aspects of my job is to help other educators find solutions to make learning accessible to all students. For instance, I once worked with a group of teachers, who had a really cool project, but it needed some accessible options. Teachers wanted students to understand how the 1893 World's Fair inspired Milton Hershey to solve problems and innovate the confectionery industry. Teachers wanted students to create an invention and analyze it to achieve this goal. 


How could we design a lesson that was accessible and provide all students with an equal opportunity to be successful?  

Planning My Lesson with a POP

Planning with accessible lessons that address learner variability begins with a POP. 

I use this acronym to:

  • Predict high probability barriers in the methods, materials, and assessments that I am using
  • Overcome barriers with accessible options for how content is represented, how knowledge is expressed, and how students engage in learning (aka UDL Framework). 
  • Plan my lesson with a clear goal and flexible means of achieving it. 

Want to see how it works? Read on and watch my video below to learn more:

Predict High-Probability Barriers 

It's a great idea; however, several high-probability barriers emerged with the goals, methods, materials, and assessments, such as:
  • This is a one-size-fits-all worksheet. What about students who need bigger text and text-to-speech tools? 
  • What is an invention? 
  • Why should students know this?
  • What is the 1893 World's Fair? How does it relate to this project?
  • Why do students need to create an invention? What's the purpose? 
  • What is expected of students? How do they present their findings? 
  • How do they create their invention? 
Obviously, there are more barriers we could list, but you get the point. 

Overcome with Accessible Options

Next, it is essential to look at how we could address high-probability barriers with options. It is true "the way that we learn is as different as our DNA or fingerprint" (CAST). However, how do we address this variability that exists? There are three different principles based on brain research through the UDL framework. I paraphrase them below:
  • Provide options for representing content
  • Provide options for expressing knowledge
  • Provide options for engagement
In the following example, we designed a learning menu, a form of a choice board. It provided students with opportunities to learn about the 1893 World's Fair, analyze an actual invention, create their own invention to solve a problem, and describe how the invention works and solves a problem. Here's the actual project we developed




Plan My Lesson

Finally, it is time to begin planning the lesson. There are a variety of planning tools out there; however, I created the following UDL lesson planning template to help guide my journey. 




In my video, I had mentioned finding a picture or video of a little-known invention and asking students for their input on what exactly it is and does. Then talk about the importance of inventions and introduce our project. 

It may also be helpful to have students develop a learning goal for the day before they get started. As students are working on their project, it provides you with opportunities to connect with students and provide one-on-one or small group instruction. During the last five minutes of class, have students self-evaluate their progress and set goals for the following day. 

Conclusion 

Although there are many different ways this project could have been completed, it is crucial to plan with accessibility in mind so that ALL students can have the opportunity to learn. Planning with a POP is one way that I find helpful for designing lessons that work for students regardless of ability or disability. 







Matt Bergman (2022)


















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