How does Universal Design for Learning (UDL) help maximize learning of each student? Last week, we held a parent workshop on UDL and introduced how we have been applying the concept of UDL in our classrooms.
It is often the case that, in a traditional school setting, learning is designed for an ‘average learner.’ However, there is no ‘average learner,’ and everybody learns differently. UDL helps us plan learning to ensure that every student can access the content and have appropriate challenges for their profile to extend their learning.
At Canadian Academy, we implement various approaches to make sure all the learners can access the learning content. The most visible would be the layout of the classroom, where each classroom offers flexible seating options: some children learn well when working on the floor, whilst other children learn better when sitting on a high chair. Tools such as timers, sound blockers, and partitions are also available in the classrooms if students think these tools help them concentrate more.
During the parent workshop, Mr. Shields, a Grade 5 teacher, introduced an activity he implements in his classroom. He shared a worksheet named ‘My Personalized Learner Profile,’ which had sections such as ‘My Learning Strengths,’ ‘My learning stops when —,’ and ‘Strategies to help my learning.’ While working on this worksheet, each of the students had an opportunity to reflect on their own learning experiences and consider ways to achieve their learning goals. This activity also helps the teachers differentiate in the classrooms.
The Grade 5 are currently working on their PYP Exhibition as a culmination of their PYP journey. As they continue to dig deeper in their chosen topic of interest, they share their findings from their research with the class. They were provided with multiple options in this process. Some students enjoyed creating infographics, and others preferred writing in a newspaper style. And some other students chose to write in a research paper style. This was beneficial to maximize the students’ output because they could present their learning in the way that brings the best out of them.
As an international learning community with students from diverse backgrounds, we know that some students come from countries with different curriculum standards, while others have unique learning needs. We believe that the application of UDL is one of the keys to maximize learning of every student, and we are confident that our teachers are experienced in applying the concept of UDL in the classroom. If you would like to know more about how we practice UDL at Canadian Academy, please reach out to us!