As this course draws to a close, I have found myself in a different train of thought then when we began. I have practiced the concepts of UDL in my classroom in prior years, but this year it has become mandatory for my students. I changed jobs this year, from 8th grade science at a middle school to a self-contained 5th grade at an elementary. Instead of working through portions of UDL for portions of students, I use it as an all-inclusive direction for my students.
This class of 5th graders is behind the grade level requirements for most subjects. It is no fault of their own, but the tragedy that is poor teaching methodology and transient populations of low socio-economic status. I find myself covering concepts from 3rd and 4th grades for review, but many times it is the first introduction to the content. Students are struggling across the board, specifically in reading and math.
UDL has become the driving force for my instruction and classroom design. I have students working at individualized levels within similar content areas. I have immersed the class in Differentiated Instruction, with small groups and individual time given where needed. The two concepts of UDL and DI cannot be separated; without the DI, UDL does not work and the UDL is the stepping stone for the DI. My classroom is not at maximum capacity for visual aides, but seating and structural movement is. I know I am not done working towards my own goals for a UDL classroom, but this class has set my wheel in motion.
Also through this course, the Differentiation Station assignments were useful. I found multiple websites and scholarly research geared toward UDL and DI in the classroom. I compiled an extensive set of resources for my teacher toolbox and delicious.com favorites. It was through the co-op group discussion on Facebook that Victoria and Kristyl were able to help me sort out issues I was facing during week 3 and 4. I am eternally grateful!! I know I will not always have professional chats with peers through social media, but I happy I was given the opportunity to do so in this forum. Thanks, again, ladies!!!