Technology Integration for Teaching: Module 4
Meaningful and Accessible Learning for All Learners
Much has been written about the importance of educating all learners, but rarely have educators succeeded in creating spaces that support meaningful learning for every student. This is not because educators intentionally exclude certain learners; it happens because every student learns differently and has different needs. This module will focus on addressing mindsets that may be harmful to certain populations of students and on providing resources for ensuring that all students have meaningful learning experiences in your classroom. Before beginning the module, please take a moment to read my blog entry on accessibility for disabled students. It provides insight into why this topic is so valuable, some ideas about creating a more inclusive online environment, and a link to a great article that explains why I do not exclusively use person-first language.
In this module, you will:
1. Learn about Universal Design for Learning.
2. Consider how you respond to student needs in your classroom.
3. Engage with several resources from the Educating All Learners website and participate in the discussion about teaching disabled students.
4. Read about teaching English Learners in an online setting.
5. Reflect on how to be responsive and engaging simultaneously.
Course Design for All Learners
In Module 2, we discussed the importance of backward planning for meaningful learning. As you backward plan, you should also be considering how to ensure that every child benefits from instruction. One way to do that is through Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Please watch the following video to learn about UDL.
One key takeaway from the video is that your instruction should go beyond access to support and challenge all students. This is done through multiple means of representation, action and expression (which we covered in module 3), and engagement. CAST has many resources available for incorporating these in online learning. Please also read Edutopia's brief overview of inclusive instruction for diverse learners.
Now that you have a background understanding of UDL, please read Rappolt-Schlichtmann's (2020) article on UDL practices for online learning. Thinking back to Modules 2 and 3, how can you connect Understanding by Design, engaging online resources, and UDL? Write a brief reflection on how these three concepts can work together in your content area and grade level. Using Canva, create a mind map to express your thing. I have created a template you can modify, or you can create your own. Canva requires an account, so you can also feel free to create yours own paper if you wish. The template is linked and pictured below.
Responding to the Strengths and Needs of
One of the most important skills to develop as a virtual teacher is responsiveness. We plan elaborate lessons and incorporate innovative technologies, and then we realize that those things are not working for all of our students or worse--those plans did not take into account who our students are as people.
Responsiveness is a mindset. Often, our first instinct when a lesson does not go well is to blame students, the technology, or the curriculum. Sometimes, these factors contribute to a failed lesson, but often there is more that we can do to ensure student success.
Please listen to Django Paris discuss culturally sustaining pedagogy to develop some background knowledge of what it means to plan with and for the students who are in your classroom rather than for the notion of an "average" student.
Please also read Zaretta Hammond's discussion on culturally responsive teaching and the brain. An important aspect of this article is the graphic that demonstrates the differences among multicultural education, social justice, and cultural responsiveness.
While responsiveness is about more than differentiation, it is also important to remember that different students have different strengths, preferences, and areas for growth. Teaching Tolerance has excellent resources on differentiation and responsiveness. Please review their article and the embedded videos on Differentiated Instruction.
Planning with Disabled Students in Mind
As you think about responding to the needs of all students, the task can sometimes feel overwhelming. Remember that using UDL and UbD will start you on the right track, and as you plan, you will already be thinking about how to meet everyone where they are, how to build on their strengths, and how to incorporate their language and culture into the classroom.
Once you have determined your intended outcomes and the activities you want students to engage in, you need to think about what students may need more individualized planning. Think of at least three students you have had in your classroom who had an intellectual or physical disability (or both).
With those students in mind, go to the Educating All Learners searchable database and find an article to help you address the needs of a student with that disability/those disabilities. As you explore the resources, consider:
In what ways can distance learning be a positive change for these students?
What resources might a student with these learning differences need to be successful in an online environment?
What strengths do some students with this disability bring to the online learning environment?
After you have considered these questions, read Kareem Neal's article about creating a positive learning community in spite of the challenges of moving to online learn.
Write a brief reflection below about what you learned from the experience of investigating the database and reading the article.
Planning with English Learners in Mind
Another group who may need more individualized planning is bilingual emergent students, often called English Learners. Please read Chapter 2 from Teaching English Language Learners.
Once you have finished the chapter, think back to the tools and resources that you chose in the last module. How could you use these resources to enhance the learning of English Learners in your online space? Use the checklist at the end of the chapter. Do your virtual tools allow you to meet any of those criteria?
Planning with All Students in Mind
Finally, as you plan for the semester and juggle the needs of all of your students, don't forget the importance of engagement. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has countless resources to help you reach your goals. This article, for example, gives 7 suggestions for making your online course engaging, and they are closely related to Universal Design for Learning. ISTE also has technology standards for both students and teachers, and these are a great place to reflect on your current and planned online teaching practices.
Congratulations! You have complete the educational technology course. I hope you found the information helpful and that you have taken away some valuable tools for the upcoming semester. Please do not hesitate to reach out through email with any feedback on this module. Also, if you have a few spare moments, please fill out the feedback form so that I can continuously improve the course.
You can also find additional resources related to educational technology on my resource page.
Thank you for your commitment to improving outcomes for all students. I hope you have a wonderful school year!