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Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age

by David H. Rose, Anne Meyer, Nicole Strangman and Gabrielle Rappolt

Table of Contents

An ASCD Study Guide for Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning

This Study Guide is designed to enhance your understanding of Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning, an ASCD book written by David H. Rose and Anne Meyer and published in April 2002. Use this study guide as you read. The questions provided are not meant to cover all aspects of the book; rather, they are intended to address selected ideas we believe warrant further reflection.

Most of the questions are ones you can think about on your own. But you might also consider pairing with another colleague or forming a group of people who have read (or are reading) Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. You might also consider modifying the questions for use in professional development courses or workshops on various topics, including differentiated instruction, technology in the classroom, and the brain and learning.

Chapter 1: Education in the Digital Age

  1. As you read this chapter, compare your school's teaching goals, tools, and approaches to assessment with those described for the Concord (NH) schools. Which parts of each model seem helpful or promising as a means for reaching diverse learners?
  2. Our understanding of intelligence has changed in recent years. We now know that students do not have one global learning capacity, but many multifaceted learning capacities, and that a disability or challenge in one area may be countered by extraordinary ability in another. Think about your own experience as a learner. Rate your strengths and weaknesses in different areas. What do the results tell you about intelligence?
  3. In this chapter, we highlight some educational approaches that feature learners actively constructing meaning and teachers participating and supporting learning rather than imparting knowledge. What lines of educational thought have had the most influence on your practice as a teacher?

Chapter 2: What Brain Research Tells Us About Learner Differences

  1. Before you begin the chapter, think of an intriguing difference you've observed in the ways individual students take in information. How do your students behave when you ask them to take in new information? What variations do you notice, for example, when different students read a textbook chapter or listen to a story or lecture?
  2. Choose a task such as following directions to a destination, returning phone calls, or cooking dinner for friends. What roles does each of the brain networks play in this task?
  3. Choose an aspect of recognition and describe a few individual differences among students that you have observed. Think about the various students you have had and how they have performed when confronted with various recognition tasks. Identify different strengths and weaknesses.
  4. Strategic learning includes planning, organizing, executing, and self-monitoring while learning a process or skill. Does this section of Chapter 2 help you understand some difference between your students in a new way?
  5. What kind of learner are you? Do you prefer to learn a new skill by watching someone else do it first? Or do you learn by doing and getting help when you need it? Recall how you learned to cook, drive, use your computer, or navigate the Internet. How did you approach learning these skills, and what brought the most progress for you? What kind of help and support was most effective?
  6. Do you believe that students' emotional responses to learning are an important consideration for teachers? Why or why not? Think of a situation in which you were very excited about what you were learning. Think of a situation in which you felt very discouraged about what you were learning. How do you think emotions affect someone's ability to stick with something challenging?

Chapter 3: Why We Need Flexible Instructional Media

  1. Before you begin the chapter, consider the instructional media that you use in your classroom. Do you rely heavily on printed text, speech, and images? Do you use digitized text, images, and sound? Which media must students in your classroom be able to use if they are to succeed in learning key content and skills?
  2. Has the rigidity of traditional media ever been a problem in your classroom? For whom? Why?
  3. Read the section called "Qualities of Text." When you learn new information, do text's advantages help you? Do its limitations hinder you? Compare your own abilities to receive information through text to those of a student who struggles with that medium.
  4. The section called "Qualities of Images" highlights some of the advantages of images. Can you think of something you taught recently that could have been captured well through an image such as a diagram, concept map, photograph or drawing? Would the image have helped some struggling students to grasp the concept?
  5. Have traditional instructional materials limited some of your students' ability to grasp information, express themselves effectively, or stay interested? If so, what digital media or tools might offer opportunities for overcoming the problem?

Chapter 4: What Is Universal Design for Learning?

  1. This chapter is about increasing the flexibility of the curriculum in order to individualize instruction. Do you find yourself confronted with this challenge? Can you think of specific instances where you could have been more effective if you could have individualized instruction more easily?
  2. Imagine a spectrum of approaches to instruction. At one end of the range are teachers who think of their class primarily as a group; teachers at the opposite extreme consider each individual student. Where would you place yourself on that spectrum? Why?
  3. The chapter differentiates between access to information and access to learning. Can you think of an example from your teaching or learning where too much access eliminated the challenge and therefore the learning?
  4. If the principles of Universal Design for Learning were systematically applied to instructional methods and materials in your classroom, would the result be an improvement in learning for all of your students? For some of your students? Why or why not?
  5. In your view, what aspect of Universal Design for Learning holds the most promise for improving instructional practices and curriculum design? Will new tools and media be a catalyst for change? Will changes in professional development and training make the difference? What about publishing practices?
  6. Given your own experience, what aspects of Universal Design for Learning seem most difficult to implement?

Chapter 5: Using UDL to Set Clear Goals

  1. Before you begin this chapter, consider the relationship between clear learning goals and individualizing instruction. Why might it be important to have clear goals before tailoring individual learning paths? How can you define goals that work for all the diverse learners in your class?
  2. As part of their efforts to improve public education, most states have adopted "frameworks" or "standards" that specify what is to be taught and learned at various grade levels. Meanwhile, our society has placed an increasing value on diversity, appreciating cultural differences, honoring individuals with their range of abilities and disabilities, and upholding high expectations for all learners. Do you find yourself stressed by this apparent contradiction in priorities? What approaches do you use to reconcile them?
  3. Think of a time when individual students took different paths to achieve the same general goal. What examples of different paths in your teaching come to mind?
  4. Can you identify a time from your career as a learner in which you felt just the right level of challenge, and as a result, did outstanding work? What about that particular project or assignment made it a perfect match for you?

Chapter 6: Using UDL to Support Every Student's Learning

  1. Think about the variety of individuals in your classroom. How have you been approaching the challenge of helping all of these diverse learners achieve to their full potential? As you read this chapter, see if you can find some approaches or specific suggestions that might help you meet this challenge.
  2. Describe an experience when exposure to multiple examples helped you or your students learn to identify a pattern.
  3. The chapter proposes four aspects of apprenticeship ideal for supporting strategic learning. Do you agree that these techniques support students in learning skills or processes? Why or why not?
  4. Think back to a time when you had to read something long that really didn't interest you. Could the same skill or content have been learned using different material? If you had been really interested, would you have experienced the learning task differently and done a better job?

Chapter 7: Using UDL to Accurately Assess Student Progress

  1. Consider how a written exam taxes recognition, strategic, and affective networks in ways that may interfere with or confound the true intent of the assessment. Can you name one way for each of the brain networks?
  2. What's your favorite assessment medium or method? Explain why you like it. Think broadly. Consider oral presentations, essay tests, multimedia productions, multiple-choice quizzes, short-answer quizzes, debates, and whatever else you have used. Why do some of these approaches and media work better for some students than for others?
  3. Some teachers feel that it is "cheating" to provide any learning supports (such as a calculator, a talking word processor, or voice recognition software). Describe a circumstance in which you would deem it fairer or more accurate to provide support during a student's assessment. Why would the support make the assessment fairer and more accurate?

Chapter 8: Making Universal Design for Learning a Reality

  1. Before reading this chapter, take a moment to think about the challenge of bringing Universal Design for Learning to your school or district. What is the first question or concern that comes to mind? What aspects of your school or district are favorable to implementing UDL?
  2. Reflect on the predominant outlook in your school. When students have difficulty learning, do people usually look to student learning problems or to curriculum barriers to find and resolve the issue? If the focus is on student problems, what steps might you take to bring about a shift in perspective?
  3. The chapter suggests seven key components to UDL implementation: technology infrastructure and support, administrative support, teacher training and support, redefined roles for special and regular education teachers, collaborative curriculum planning, parent and community involvement, and creative funding. List these in order of descending importance for your school or community. Are there other aspects that you think would be critical for UDL implementation to succeed in your community?

Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning was written by David H. Rose and Anne Meyer. This 216-page, 8" x 10" book (Stock #101042; ISBN 0-87120-599-8) is available from ASCD for $22.95 (ASCD member) and $26.95 (nonmember). Copyright 2002 by ASCD. To order a copy, call ASCD at 1-800-933-2723 (in Virginia 1-703-578-9600) and press 2 for the Service Center. Or buy the book from ASCD's Online Store.


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