Monday, October 29, 2007

Reflecting on Universal Design for Learning

I just got back from attending day 1 of a three day training presented by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) on the theory and practice of Universal Design for Learning in today's classrooms. I have always been a big fan of CAST, and in fact I spent a week there about 15 years ago when they were running an assistive technology institute. While CAST initially was servicing the needs of individual students with disabilities through their Assistive Technology Clinic, it became more apparent to them that they could have more of an impact if they focused on making the curriculum more accessible instead of working with one student at a time.

Looking at the basic tenets of Universal Design for Learning it is clear to me that if they are applied- we would reach many more students and facilitate the learning that takes place in all classrooms. Taken as a whole the basic tenets are: Multiple Means of Representation. Multiple Means of Expression, and Multiple Means of Engagement. Utilizing these principles it is possible with supports and scaffolding to reach more students and to bridge the gap thereby making the curriculum more accessible to all students. Today we had a chance to learn the theory and tomorrow we will be discussing ways that technology can assist students in reaching their learning goals in the classroom. It is truly a wonderful learning experience and gives me a chance to reflect on what we know about brain and put into practice research based strategies that will make a difference for a wide range of students with all abilities in our classrooms.

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