Everybody loves watching a nicely executed circus act—one which surprises, delights and briefly suspends us in awe. It’s the sort of efficiency that makes an impression as a result of its success depends not upon magic or deceit however dedication and practiced ability. Take, as an illustration, the precarious act of spinning plates on poles, seemingly defying the legal guidelines of gravity.
Suppose plate spinners are a factor of the previous? Properly, step proper up, girls and gents, and watch Regina Meeks carry out her scholastic plate-spinning act!
The Academically Intellectually Gifted (AIG) Licensed and Expertise Growth (TD) Catalyst instructor works with teams of gifted and superior learners throughout the Charlotte-Mecklenburg faculty district in North Carolina. She travels between two completely different faculty websites all through the week. She plans instruction for 4 separate grade ranges—second by way of fifth—and two completely different topic areas—math and ELA—whereas additionally deciding which classroom expertise is greatest suited to every day’s lesson. And on prime of all that, she’s a mentor and coach to new lecturers.
How does she do it? Properly, as you would possibly count on, she’s a gifted and devoted educator. However she’s additionally acquired the proper instruments for the job. Propping up her vigorous routine are the poles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the right mix of schooling expertise, making certain that all the things retains spinning alongside on the proper tempo and momentum.
Meeks was launched to us after taking part within the UDL Product Certification listening classes, a challenge sponsored by the Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA), a coalition of organizations devoted to supporting college students with disabilities and studying variations. Just lately, she sat down with EdSurge to clarify precisely how she manages to maintain her many plates from crashing to the bottom.
EdSurge: How do you deliver the ideas of UDL into your classroom—with or with out the assistance of expertise?
Meeks: There’s one basic query that I ask myself, and it is at all times, “How do I create a content material lesson in order that it’s partaking for all learners?” So, after I take into consideration UDL, that is the query I am in search of: How am I going to interact all learners? As a result of we all know, as educators, one measurement doesn’t match all.
So, I begin considering, “Okay, how can I make it interactive? How can I make it enjoyable? What are the instruments that the scholars might have for independence and autonomy?” That is at all times been my considering. I am a tech particular person by nature; I like techy sort stuff. I am at all times experimenting and discovering completely different edtech instruments.
For instance, utilizing Google Slides, I body my lesson in order that college students can see what I am instructing—that means they’ve a sort of visible script—as a result of some college students study greatest by seeing it, and a few could do higher with listening to it. My Google Classroom is sort of a shell, a container. So, on this container, I take into consideration which edtech instruments are going to assist me maximize the lesson. If I am in search of a bunch dialogue, I’ll publish a Padlet in Google Classroom. Then, as I am instructing from my Google Slides, their response goes to be on Padlet. This can be a wonderful means for me to get suggestions and have college students take part within the dialogue with out elevating their hand.
After I take into consideration UDL, I would like my college students to have independence and autonomy.
Which different instruments assist you to promote independence and autonomy or personalize content material in your learners?
I like to make use of Edpuzzle, the place I can embed a video and layer it with comprehension questions or stopping factors to find out mastery. College students can return and watch it as many instances as they want. My purpose is to ensure they’ve the chance to maximise studying at their very own tempo.
However I attempt to rotate the instruments so issues don’t get stagnant. I at all times return to, “Okay, what content material lesson am I going to pair with my edtech software in order that it is partaking? Which one’s going to maximise this lesson and provides me probably the most bang for my buck?” I take advantage of Padlet, Edpuzzle, Flipgrid, Quizlet Dwell, Kahoot!, and my favourite that I take advantage of for gamifying is Deck.Toys.
Oh my goodness, in case you are in a classroom, you need to use Deck.Toys! You have got a instructor mode and a play mode. After constructing the lesson, you may current in instructor mode, and college students will solely see what you’re instructing. When you flip off instructor mode, they will play the gamified actions utilizing content material from the lesson. You’ll be able to put in vocabulary, content material, movies, important questions—all the things that you simply want. College students find it irresistible as a result of it is gamified. We all know they love expertise, so, as soon as once more, I am making an attempt to maximise curiosity and engagement however nonetheless responsibly train my content material and construct in differentiation.
And I am at all times occupied with constructing within the alternative to collaborate, paired with unbiased examine. I feel so much about personalised studying. We’ve got to seek out methods to provide college students selection and voice, utilizing various kinds of expertise to provide them an opportunity to work independently as a result of they must take possession of their studying.
Digging extra into the “common” facet of UDL, how does accessibility issue into the choice of edtech instruments that you simply use together with your college students?
For starters, I feel there is a better want for illustration of accessibility points within the office. I feel if I needed to establish a niche, it will be within the hiring of people which have accessibility wants. Who higher to offer detailed details about utilizing a product and realizing what’s missing?
However just lately, I’ve seen an enormous enchancment with edtech instruments, together with speech-to-text. One of many instruments that sort of began it off for me was Learn&Write for Google Chrome. And I used to be actually excited when Flipgrid began utilizing closed captions! I work in Title I colleges, and we nonetheless have numerous college students beneath grade stage for studying. So, having Microsoft Immersive Reader and Learn&Write for Google Chrome has been a sport changer.
Is there a specific success story associated to accessibility considerations within the classroom that you would be able to share?
Completely. I labored with Digital Promise within the Verizon Revolutionary Studying Colleges program, and the scholars acquired their very own iPad to take dwelling and use in the course of the faculty yr. We had fairly a big inhabitants of ESL college students. And we had been capable of present them, with accessibility settings, learn how to change their language. That was enormous! The scholars had been capable of perceive the language within the doc and the language of the gadget. And the identical is true with Canvas, our LMS. Now, we’ve got the choice, beneath accessibility settings, to vary the language for all of our ESL college students.
So, it is a success story for me—the ‘aha’ or ‘yahoo!’ Sure, they can get it now. That was a sport changer. And in addition, it put a software within the palms of the lecturers in order that they may very well be actively concerned in making a classroom that was inclusive.