In a seventh-grade classroom environment, how do you plan class lessons to meet the needs of all students using the Six Steps of the Universal Design for Learning?

Expert Answers
jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Here are some ways you might design 7th grade history lessons, for example about the American Revolutionary War period, to meet the needs of different types of learners using the Six Steps of Universal Design (UDL):

  • Start small: Don't try to use differentiated learning for every lesson. Instead, start with one lesson. For example, you could start with a lesson in which you bring in replicas of Revolutionary War-era clothing and ask students to draw or design similar costumes. Other lessons could at first be more traditional in format to give students (and the teacher) ample time to adapt to the UDL format.
  • Engage everybody: Use different methods of convey information, measure students' acquisition of knowledge, and help students acquire additional related knowledge. For example, students can read novels about the Revolutionary War, design costumes, sing Revolutionary War era songs, or watch movies about the war. These types of activities engage different types of learners.
  • Use technology, but don't rely on it: Students can watch related videos or read texts on their computers or iPads that allow them to annotate. These uses of technology relate to the lesson and help enhance students' learning.
  • Attend to the whole environment: Students should be presented with different ways of accessing the material and different ways to show what they know. For example, for this unit, students could be assessed on their knowledge of battle facts from the war, or they could submit portfolios with designs of Revolutionary War-era costumes, among other potential projects. Their progress can be measured in different ways.
  • Bring students on board: Students can be given one traditional "chalk-and-talk" lecture (in which the teacher does most of the talking) on the Revolutionary War, for example, and then have an alternative lesson, such as reading a novel that takes place in the war and writing letters from one character to another. They can then be asked which lesson they prefer to show them the benefits of UDL.
  • Be flexible: These types of lessons ask the teacher and students to assume new roles. For example, the teacher doesn't have to spend the whole lesson lecturing but can instead allow students to explore artifacts, such as Revolutionary War era clothing, and write about them or sketch them. In this way, students are in greater control of their own learning. 
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