Friday 23 June 2017

Breaking down the barriers to learning

The Inclusive Education website (inclusive.tki.org.nz) has more than 20 online guides to help teachers and school leaders support learners with diverse needs. The guides take some of the mystery out of meeting the diverse needs that are presenting in our schools and classrooms. They provide a wealth of practical strategies and suggestions that are hand-picked for the New Zealand education system.

In this and following issues we will be asking some users to review a range of guides on the site. In this issue, year 2 teacher Stephanie Kitto from Clyde School in Central Otago provides her thoughts on the Universal Design for Learning guide. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) supports teachers to provide a range of ways for students to create, learn and demonstrate understanding. The Universal Design for Learning guide looks at the principles of UDL and how to use UDL to design inclusive classroom activities for all students.
WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE GUIDE?
“The Universal Design for Learning guide has been really useful. As far as professional learning and development goes you could spend hours using the guide.
“I haven’t had a chance to have a look at absolutely everything just yet, there’s still a lot of links I’d like to spend more time exploring.”
WHO WOULD THE UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING GUIDE BE MOST USEFUL FOR?
“I would recommend the Universal Design Guide to teachers who would like to know more about how to use the UDL framework in their classroom. Also, the Digital Technologies guide would be useful for teachers who would like to know more about how to effectively implement technology into their classrooms.”
HOW HAS THE GUIDE IMPACTED YOUR PRACTICE?
“Having used the Universal Design for Learning guide for a while now, I’m much more aware of what potential barriers to learning could be. Now when I’m planning something I’m very conscious that I need to represent something in many different ways. For example I might set up my laptop next to me and record what I’m doing so they can go back and listen to it. The guide has made me reflect on what I’m doing in the classroom and has given me plenty of ideas for the future.”
WHAT LEARNINGS HAVE YOU TAKEN FROM THE GUIDE?
“Now when I’m planning something I’m very conscious that I need to represent things in many different ways. For example, in Maths, I might use technology to record what we’re doing, so that students can go back and listen to the session again.”