The above video of Todd Rose speaking about Universal Design for Learning (UDL) really speaks to our responsibility as teachers to plan for the needs of all of our students. I really like his idea of “banning the average”, meaning there is no such thing as an average student. For me this idea, and that of designing to the edges, entirely changes how I consider lesson planning. UDL can encompass inclusion, differentiation, and Response to Intervention (RTI).
For me, designing to the edges means integrating subjects to motivate interest, using multiple modalities for expression, being creative in engaging students and always remaining flexible. It also means encouraging metacognition in the students, and allowing them to be flexible as they try to pursue their learning and figure out what works for them.
For example, when I first discovered sketch-noting I was so excited. Here is a way for students who think visually and struggle with writing to take notes that make sense to them. Here is a sample I made:
I created the above sketch note while watching a film of Cindy Blackstock giving a speech entitled Equity, Human Rights, and how we are failing Aboriginal Children. Find the video here.