Designing for Variability in the Classroom

new udl guidelinesWhen you look around your classroom, you readily see the variability present in your students. Some are students are tall, while other students are short. Some students have long hair, while other students have short hair. Some students are heavier in build, while other students are thinner in build. What you cannot see is the existing variability in brain physiology and neural networking.

How do teachers create learning opportunities that provide for the diverse needs present in the classroom? ? In her book Engage the Brain: How to Design for Learning That Taps Into the Power of Emotion, author Allison Posey proposes implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (pp. 33 et seq.). UDL comes from the Center for Applied Special Technologies (CAST) and operates under the following framework guidelines:

  1. The WHY of Learning: Provide multiple means of engagement, including options for interest, sustaining effort, persistence, and self-regulation.
  2. The WHAT of Learning: Provide multiple means of representation, including options for perception, language, symbols, and comprehension.
  3. The HOW of Learning: Provide multiple means of action and expression, including options for physical action, expression, communication, and executive functioning.

As you prepare for next week, take a few minutes to review the UDL guidelines at Think of ways that you can increase variability in the classroom activities you have prepared for your students. In the end, you and your students will benefit greatly!

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