UDL- What is it?
Most of you have heard me go on ad nauseam about UDL- Universal Design for Learning- but if you haven't been exposed to UDL principles- here it is in a nutshell- or an infographic from the UDL Center and CAST.
Essentially, UDL is a way to front load your lessons- be proactive - and provide multiple means of engagement, representation and action & expression.
Why should I care?
The use of multiple means of engagement,representation and expression was demonstrated in a recent pilot test of uPAR here at HES. Students had various selections to read- silently, by a machine voice or by a human voice. It will not surprise you to see that almost 83% of our kids benefitted by these varied methods. What did surprise me was the average grade level increases- +4 to +8 grade levels! So, should all students be allowed to hear the text as they read ? Only if you want their comprehension levels to go up.
Free Resources from CAST
"Story Shares is a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring reading practice and improving literacy skills."
This is a resource which started off on Kickstarter as a writing contest with support from Benetech, the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), Orca Book Publishers, and the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) and Jabico Enterprises. Now it is a growing platform to support older struggling readers with more appropriate reading material- and as a writer's platform.
I remember trying to use some of the book builder apps from CAST quite a few years ago, and giving up because they were super clunky to use. Things have changed. They have a whole page of free educational pages- http://www.cast.org/our-work/learning-tools.html- that yo can visit when you have time.
I just want to highlight 3 additional tools today.
This tool provides an easy to use authoring tool. The part I like- you can automatically add audio and word by word translation. Is it beautiful? No, but useful.
" iSolveIt puzzles provide an engaging way for students to develop the logical thinking and reasoning skills that are essential in mathematics." These are fun to do- and strike a good balance between challenging and daunting.
"CAST Science Writer, the tool that supports students in writing lab and class reports. This tool is geared toward middle school and high school students. Check out the supports and help available in Science Writer."
"Science Writer is an interactive, web-based instructional learning tool designed to help students in writing a complete science report; it supports students throughout the process of writing a science report. Research has revealed several effective instructional practices in improving the written language performance of students, and Science Writer has been designed to provide these: