trying the embed feature of VoiceThread


VoiceThread on UDL: Its Implications in the Classroom Today and in the Future

Universal Design for Learning

Produced by Heather Michel for SLM 508 Learning Technologies at McDaniel College on April 27, 2015

Universal Design for Learning by Heather Michel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

UDL is a concept for designing curriculum and learning tasks to adapt to the inherent differences in learners instead of the traditional approach for designing curriculum for an “average” student. The video “UDL: Principles and Practice” states that instead of an “average” student, there are numerous types of students and a one-size-fits-all education leaves many students slipping through the cracks. UDL has its basis in neuroscience; the three principles correlate with the three networks in the brain which must be simultaneously engaged for optimal learning to occur. Recognition networks gather facts and identify and categorize them. This constitutes the “what” of learning. Strategic networks plan and perform actions in order to express ideas. This constitutes the “how” of learning. Affective networks keep students engaged, motivated, challenged, excited, or interested. This constitutes the “why” of learning. UDL principles help educators customize their teaching for individual differences in each of these three brain networks. A universally-designed curriculum offers the following: Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge. Multiple means of action and expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know. Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn (What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?, 2014).


What is Universal Design for Learning (UDL)? (2014). Universal Design for Learning in Maryland. Retrieved from


screencast of how to use Prezi

This Prezi will be used at the beginning of class to introduce a lab to my class. I want the image of a “Kindergarten Approach” to learning, developed by Mitch Resnick, to show my 8th graders how to follow the scientific method in the lab that we will be doing as the culmination to our Physical Science unit on Waves. Its intended purpose is to keep the attention of the students long enough for them to receive the directions for getting into groups an carrying out the various parts of the lab. The presentation will be available to them as a stored file after class when they are working on the parts of the lab that are to be completed out of the classroom so they can have a reminder of exactly what they are expected to produce.

Classroom Blogs

Elementary school blog review- (England, 3rd grade?) 

Title: A Room With a View: Class 3 — Sharing our enthusiasm  — The purpose of this blog is to show visitors the creativity that is taking place in the classroom. There are posts twice a week with pictures of student work and videos of the students themselves explaining the topic. The blog site includes a list of flags from visitors’ home countries with numbers of visitors from each country and a hand-drawn clock that tells the time at the school. The author fulfills the purpose of the blog by keeping the focus on the students in the class and their learning. The lessons shared are student-focused and have interesting deliverables, and the blog itself is student-focused with diverse media.

Outdoor Friday blog post tells about an ongoing program this class engages in which calls for taking their math lesson outside on Fridays. The author was inspired by another blog post to tweet each week what her class was studying during their time outdoors. The post includes pictures of the math they found outside, specifically shapes for this lesson about perimeter, area, and angles. It also includes an I-pad quiz made by the students that visitors can take themselves concerning estimating angles from real-life pictures.

A Light-hearted Look at History blog post detailed what the class did for Comic Relief Day in the UK (also known as Red Nose Day). Aside from everyone dressing up with red noses, the students had a light day of learning by attempting to model Stonehenge (which they had been studying) with “foodstuffs”. The blog post contains many pictures of Stonehenge, one real, one hypothesized by archeologists and historians, and several of the food models with the students. Then the post describes a class-made museum of stone age artifacts together with a video and a picture.

Middle school blog review 

Title: Cougar News Blog — This blog is written by Cactus Canyon Junior High students to be read by fellow students wanting to hear the latest news in the school. It definitely achieves its purpose as the posts are written by different authors and do a good job of expressing excitement about the newest thing happening around the school. Full of the energy of engaged students, it won the Best Group Blog Award from Edublog in 2014. However, as an outside observer, I find it hard to be pulled into events that don’t relate to my life.

Reading Enrichment Encourages a Love of Reading blog post tells about an eighth grade teacher who started a new course to get the students to read more. The course is part of a study skills series and a reading-for-rewards program whose purposes are to provide motivation for student learning and assessment of their reading levels. The theory is that having students read together as a group and doing activities together promotes engagement and learning.

Marissa Meyer Visits CCJH For Book Presentation blog post is one in a long procession of library-tagged posts detailing visits by prominent authors. It seems that Cactus Canyon Junior High library hosts a visiting author every year, among other events. Meyer, the author of the Cinder series, seems to have inspired some of the students to continue writing by sharing her life story and how difficult it is sometimes to get published. The post includes some quotes from the students who participated in Meyer’s presentation.

High school blog review

Title: Falcons Tech – from the heart and minds of excelsior students – This high school blog is a mix of a teacher’s invitation to write a few sentences about the weekly word of wisdom and the students’ pages which highlight their own writing. The teacher gets many comments to her blog as her purpose is to get others thinking and writing  about positive thoughts. They can then share with the world as they post their writing as a comment to her Words of Wisdom post. Also included in this blog are student pages which showcase what the students feel is their best work. The purpose of getting students’ work properly polished in preparation to be “out there” for viewing by an audience is well-achieved. To help show who the audience is, there is a “hits” counter and a revolving globe with red marks where guests are from and a flag pinned where the current visitor is at the moment.

One student’s blog page contains posts centered around the theme of words. She discusses the potential hurtfulness of words and offers her conclusion as to why people hurt others with words. In another section, she includes musings on poetry and offers a poignant poetic example of how words affect emotions. She is a self-declared poet and is using her words to express herself to the world.

A sample post of the Words of Wisdom series invites others to comment by writing a few sentences about the topic of Kindness: Making a Difference. There are three quotations concerning kindness to help jump-start the creative writing process. On the same day of the post, there were 85 comments left on the post, probably as an assignment. The teacher noted that her students are currently learning how to properly reply to the comments their writing receives online, in an academic setting.

I would use blogs in my classroom to start my students with an appropriate digital footprint. That way they can begin their virtual “credit report” of their learning. This report can give those interested in the student a history of the student’s learning not only in my classroom but through the school years to prove their proficiency in learning. Data mining techniques can use the blogs to identify the student’s learning style, learning modes, motivations, abilities, interests, etc. from K-12 so that they can be best served by automated learner support systems in higher education and by employers in the work world.

I could share blogging and encourage teachers in my building to give blogs a try by showing them the possibilities intrinsic in a student’s blog. It is a link between the teachers of one student in different grades. The Kindergarten teacher can document the student’s learning so that the 1st grade teacher can take a peek at the blog over the summer and get to know the students in the class well before the school year even begins. This can facilitate the lesson planning and differentiation in that the teacher can begin thinking about the needs of the new students before the hectic time of beginning the new year arrives. Imagine a homeschool mother who has a blog for her child. All of the teachers who have influenced that student are mentioned in that blog. A new teacher who comes in to the education of that child can communicate with the prior teachers who are probably following the blog of that student. The prior educators will be able to inform the new teacher how that student best learns or if the student has a talent that can be used to help other students learn.

The best way to train teachers what the possibilities are for blogging is to have them read some of the best samples of blogs that I can find and have the teachers begin a blog for themselves, similar to what was presented to us in this course as an assignment. I could encourage them to follow professional blogs as a resource for ideas in the classroom, both for new technologies to use and for engaging activities that fostering learning in their students. Blogs are a great tool to promote efficient and equitable access to information and to promote a connection with the educational community.

Educator Blogs

Blog 1 Review
Title: Connect, Create, Inspire — middle school science teacher. The purpose of this blog is to “inspire wonder,” to encourage teachers to find creative ways to relate to their students, and to remind teachers of their passion and responsibility in how they shape their learners’ educational direction. This author fulfills his purpose by posting on topics that will remind teachers of the passion they had for kids at the beginning of their career before they got hit by negativity.

The Making of a Metaphor blog post gives the example of a stem cells and how they are nurtured in the lab to ready to become anything when it grows up. The author reminds teachers that our job is to prepare the learners so that they will be able to become what they want to be when they grow up.

The Teacher Engagement blog post is about how testing pressure affects administrators who then pressure teachers who then “invest less of themselves in their jobs.” The author reports that only 30% of full-time American teachers are “engaged” and explores why we aren’t working to improve that and the implication of it on student achievement.

Blog 2 Review
Title: Edutech for Teachers — education resources from an instructional technology specialist and teacher. This blog’s purpose is to present a holistic view of innovative teaching and learning through the use of technology and digital media. The organization and creativity of the blog don’t allow your eyes to wander; rather it has a well-thought out passageway that leads to specific information and guides your mind to seek out the information it is presenting. The author fulfilled the purpose as much by the organization and creativity in the blog itself as from the resources included in the posts.

Tech It Up Tuesday: Synthesize Learning with the Cube Creator blog post gives an explanation of a pre-writing/post-reading activity found online. The author provides links for several webpages associated with the activity and explains each of the options available to the students and teacher. She also includes links to lesson ideas for integrating the interactive activity into the classroom at all K-12 grade levels.

Diigo Weekly Bookmarks blog post shows some links to some of the latest web tools and engaging resources. This week the author posted about an online virtual school of quizzes in the form of games and freeware with 6 apps for creating interactive question-and-answer sheets. She also provided a link to the rest of her Diigo bookmarks.

Blog 3 Review
Title: @TeacherToolkit — “The Most Followed Teacher on Twitter in the UK”. This blog gives one the feeling of knowing the latest and upcoming events that are going on. Its style makes it look like a very progressive blog. The author deals with the dynamics of current issues and recent “breaking stories”, making it read like a newscast for teachers. The blog fulfills its purpose through its visual construction and through its followers. Because the blog deals with the latest information that concerns the learning of the students, its followers are in a constant mode of desiring to find the latest information, which creates a very strong following. Its large following confirms that the blog achieves its purpose of informing teachers what is going on right now concerning education, providing them with just-in-time ideas.

What Not to Mark? blog post reflects on the concept that less grading allows effective and targeted grading to have a deeper impact. The author focuses on reducing the workload of teachers who grade too much and showing how to target the important assessments to make better learning. He provides a chart that his team drafted with guidelines for best practices in grading and what to avoid doing.

#5minplanseries blog post includes a schematic for The 5 Minute Lesson Plan format. This was designed to help first-year teachers reduce the time they spend in lesson planning and to put the focus on learning rather than the activity being planned. There has been feedback from many teachers across the world in a variety of sectors who confirm that the format can be used in any context. The author suggests that it be used to help formalize the process needed to improve practice in the classroom.

Compared to the first blog which gave us the need for a learner support service center, this second one gives the atmosphere that the learner support services need to have for the students. The third blog enhances the foundation of the learning support services by giving current information that helps education to evolve into an institution that truly supports every learner equitably.

If I were to write a blog from a teacher’s point of view rather than the student’s perspective or the classroom’s mindset, there are several possible audiences — for example, my students, other teachers, administrators, or institutions.This would greatly impact how I incorporate my blog into my professional experience. I would like my blog to not just give information, but to be able to relate to other librarians and teachers, to students, to administrators. I want my blog to have not only a virtual connection between the learner, educator, and administration, but also a real-life connectivity between those people.

Technology in Learner Support

I just posted to my Learning Log, but since it is private nobody else can read what I posted. I am interested in other people reading about this thought and commenting on it, perhaps growing it in collaboration, so I am posting it here as well.

In my recent learning about using technology to support learners, I have seen what is needed for the learner support services of today to be efficiently automated and differentiated in order to greatly enhance the educator’s ability to provide the best possible learning environment to each individual student.

When a student first signs up for a new school at any level, they must put personal information into an application. At the point we are today in the digital age, most of the applications can be found online. Some can even be filled out online rather than printed and filled out by hand. Of course, this will become the standard practice. An essential part of this application of the near future will be an interest survey, which gathers information about a student’s interests, abilities, motivations, learning modes, and learning styles. The student can “sign” the form online to give permission for the new school to automatically request records from the previous school which include attendance, grades, and teachers’ notes about how the student learns best, strengths, and weaknesses. The goal of the entire academic profile that is to be included with the application is to match the student with the program of study and the teachers that will best help him/her achieve success in the education s/he chooses to pursue.

An automated learner support service program will soon be written using learning analytics and data mining that can hold endless possibilities for learning activities that specifically differentiate the content to be learned to each individual student according to their profile. The computer can take into account gender differences, multiple intelligences, learning styles, learning modes, ability levels, outside interests, motivations, culture, language, educational disadvantages, etc. all at the same time and come up with a “best practices” scenario for each student.

With the advent of global learning, a rapidly growing database is being formed of learning activities that cater to certain factors that influence education. For example, lesson plans are being shared freely and/or inexpensively by teachers of all subjects and levels that differentiate for hearing impaired or for second-language or for kinesthetic students. Experts in subject matter are giving free videos of their talks that can be added to activities that cater to students with auditory and visual preferences. Professional interactive websites such as Geogebra are being developed and used in shared lesson plans for students who learn by making connections between subjects. Social networking accounts (which are already being widely used by educators in higher education) can be integrated into lessons to point interpersonal learning-modal students to educators whom they can best relate to. An educational facebook-like website can be created for the purpose of linking all students together in categories by subject they are studying and by other interests they have.

Teachers themselves have preferred methods of delivery. They can be allowed to present their material in the way they express best, without worrying whether they have reached every type of student. The students who want to receive education in that style will be sent to them by the automated advisor. Five or fifty classrooms can be designated for the same course, but with different combinations of learning preferences. Students can be enrolled in the one that most closely matches their profile, and the teacher can be free to teach using best practices in the combinations targeting the similar learning-profiled students in the class. There is always the expectation that the live teaching will be supplemented by online activities specifically chosen for each student that more closely tailor the learning environment to exactly what that student needs to learn best. This is not to say that each student should be restricted to learning in their preferred mode and style. Part of learning is trying something new. Activities can be offered that gently expose the students to other ways of doing things in order to build up their weaknesses as well. Everybody needs to learn to relate to people different from themselves.

This model of education utilizes the economies of scale afforded by specialization and division of labor. Students would be grouped with similar teachers and students, but not by levels of academic intelligence which was discarded with “No Child Left Behind” and mainstreaming practices. They would not be grouped by age as rigidly as they are now, with every student who is 6 years old being in the same classroom. Age levels are appropriate in the sense that learning occurs best when peers are similar rather than putting 8-year-olds with 15-year-olds, but not every 8-year-old learns best surrounded by other 8-year-olds exclusively. Rather, this model of education would group students by the similarities in their profile, including age. It would also allow for regrouping for certain activities. For example, a school might decide to liven things up in the dreary winter months by creating a school-wide project to be achieved by teams of students who have been assigned by putting one student from each type of classroom on the team, thereby mixing the students up and teaching them how to work with other types of people in achieving a group task.

One warning that I wish to give about this vision I have is that we must never lose the human touch. People need to know that other people care about their success. Though the grouping can be managed best by a machine that can calculate infinite possibilities as a rapid rate, the delivery of the advising and the supervision of the learning should remain in the hands of caring human beings.