One of the main goals of UDL is to foster self-directed, creative learners. One of the ways that we are able to encourage our students to be more self-directed is to encourage a love of learning from an early age. How are we already doing this? In many of our classes, students are given more choices in how they want to learn, collaborate with classmates, and how they want to share their knowledge. Some of our teachers are facilitating Genius Hour, to allow our students to discover their passions, learn about them, and teach others about it.
In order to graduate, all of our eighth graders must complete an Exhibition project. This project has evolved over the years. In its current version, students have the option of working with a partner to find a problem that is relevant in their lives. They then use the engineering design process to research this problem, imagine and plan ideas, and prototype and present their innovative solutions. In the past, students did most of the work in their English classes, but now many of our science, social studies, technology, and math classes are also getting involved. This allows students to see first-hand that all of the subjects they are learning in class integrate and have a real-world application.
I would like to focus my UDL efforts on having more of these grade level experiences that lead up to the eighth grade exhibition. I am working with my colleagues on a TK - 8 STEAM Pathway that will provide grade level experiences that provide a real-world application to the essential standards that students are learning in class. Having meaningful experiences in engineering design, software engineering, and environmental literacy, are crucial for all of our students to truly thrive in the future.
Want to learn more about UDL? The following video is a great way to get started!