The Universal Design for Learning: Come Again?

The Universal Design for Learning is, simply put, a guideline to design a curriculum that addresses students’ needs.  The UDL can be broken down into three principles :

  1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation
  2. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression
  3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement

These principles serve as tools for teachers and learners to overcome limitations and allows teachers to plan goals, methods, and assessments to accomodate all.  For example, the first principle explores the different ways to make learning accessible and comprehensible for all different types of learners while the second and third principles explore the different ways students can express and motivate their learning.

In exploring the UDL, I selected checkpoint 3.1 – Activate or supply background knowledge.  This technique allows learners to connect the newly acquired information with knowledge they are already familiar with and understand.  This enables them to learn faster and understand more thoroughly since they are linking it to previously acquired and mastered information. This technique is applicable to all learners since not one student has the same “baggage” of acquired information.  Each will make original and authentic connections to certain information they deem useful based off their prior knowledge.

For example, I taught myself to use the Windows Movie Maker this semester for the purpose of my Media Project.  Having no prior knowledge of the software (and of all of its limitations …), I was able to carry over most of my knowledge from Filmora (video editing software) I had acquired though high school and managed to apply it.

The Importance of Media Literacy

Being literate nowadays goes beyond the traditional understanding of how to speak, write, and use arithmetic.  Literacy opens doors to many opportunities and allows us to be free and express ourselves.  With a constant evolving world that surrounds us, we need to be able to process information faster than ever.  Literacy is embedded in everything we do.  It is the basis of human culture, knowledge and social connections.  Learners need literacy to be able to explore, learn and share their knowledge with the world.

Nonetheless, being able to speak through computer programming has become today’s literacy.  As learners and educators, media and technology is starting to creep into the education system and we need to be prepared to face this change.  From building e-portfolios, creating photo essays and video projects, the digital platform in education is omnipresent.  This media literacy ranges from music, TV, video games, magazines, etc.  Media education, as defined by the dictionary, is the process through which individuals become media literate – able to critically understand the nature, techniques and impacts of media messages and production.  The ability to read many types of media has become an invaluable asset for learners and teachers, however, careful attention must be put into critically analyzing the media source.

With the growing popularity of easy media access on social media, we need to teach students to be smart and aware of where they inform themselves.  It is our duty as educators to make our students be able to recognize bias, spin, misinformation, and lies when gaining information of the Internet.  In my opinion, media education is the way we should approach education in the 21st century since children need to be able to access media, analyse media in a critical manner and evaluate it to come to a clear and concise conclusion.

Learning Statement #2

As a teacher, I will need to be prepared to handle different behaviors and learning styles in order to bring the best out of all my students.  Each and everyone deserves to understand and excel the subject being taught to them.  Having studied the basis of multiple intelligenges, learning styles, and motivational tools in my introductory educational psychology course, I know where I stand in order to accommodate most of my students.  Writing this paper made me realize how much influence I will have on my future students’ everyday lives.  It is crazy to say but, I will be in charge of shaping the minds of tomorrow.  These young bright minds will be listening to what I say, observating my every move, but most importantly, be influenced by me.  It will be my goal to positively motivate all of my students in order for them to reach their full potential no matter the task given.

Competency #1: To act as a professional who is inheritor, critic and interpreter of knowledge or culture when teaching students.

(Here’s the link to access my response: How Teachers Can Improve Their Students Motivation)

Learning Statement #1

As a teacher, I need to be informed and  comfortable on many issues and problems facing modern day society.  For example, globalization and the effects of global warming are problems that our future generation will need to urgently address in the coming years.  In order to formulate my opinion on the matter in written words, I decided to make it the topic of my final article at Dawson College.  Inspired by Kip Andersen’s documentary Cowspiracy, I explored the issues behind our populations’ mass consumption of meat and its consequences on future generations.  This article adressed why we, as a society, fear the idea of change and the idea that humans were not anatomically designed to consume meat.

Competency 2: For my message to get accross to my audience, I had to clearly communicate using the language of instruction my opinions on the topic, linking it to information on the topic from different ressources.

Competency 4: To pilot teaching/learning situations that are appropriate to the students concerned and to the subject content with a view to developing the competencies targeted in the programs of study.

(Here is the link to access the article: Packaged at a Price)

S.M.A.R.T Goal

S – Formulate and state a clear and concise teaching philosophy 

M – Knowing who I am as a student and what I want to become as an educator

A – Weekly readings on the subject will facilitate this task

R – Formulating a clear philosophy of my teaching methods will only be beneficial for my ongoing future

T – At the end of this semester

UPDATE

With the completion of my first semester here at McGill, I have formulated my first draft of my beliefs about teaching and learning.  This draft was heavily influenced by the works of psychologists such as Albert Bandura and Lev Vygotsky, which I had the pleasure to read up on and discover over the course of this semester.  Nonetheless, I am well aware that my beliefs on the matter will continue to evolve as I continue my studies in education.  This exercise not only helped me write down in a clear and concise way who I was as a learner and what I believed in, but provided me with a starting guideline of what I aspire to be as an educator.

My Learning Network and Community

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Family:  My parents have taught me the importance of never giving up on what matters to you most.  It is because of them that the values of perseverance, independence and self-worth have shaped me in becoming the person I am today.  They showed me how important it is to be emotionally strong and simply to believe in yourself.

F.A.C.E School:  One value that this place gave me was the importance of a strong sense of family.  It is here that I met most of the people (friends, teachers) that have influenced me in becoming the person I am today including (but not limited to) William Hesselink, Rita Saad, Ella Sparling, and so many more.

Hockey Community:  Most of my best childhood memories have been on an ice rink.  It is throughout my 14 year career in hockey that I discovered the importance of teamwork and hardwork.

This network is, of course, a brief overview of all the people that have been apart of my life and have taught, influenced, and prepared me for what awaited me with valuable lessons and advice.

My Technology Baseline

My Technology Baseline

As for most people, I got acquainted with technology through video games. From Lapin-Malin on my father’s PC throughout my childhood to the various NHL games on my Xbox 360 throughout my teen years, gaming has been apart of my learning experience of technology.

I remember when my parents first put me in front of Lapin-Malin at the age of 4 years old to help me develop simple mathematical computing skills in order to better prepare for pre-kindergarten.  It is through simple platforms such as Blues Clues’ friends and Bananas in Pajamas that my basic linguistic, logical-mathematical and intrapersonal intelligences slowly started to develop.  From picture essays and video assignments in my elementary years, to PowerPoint presentations in my high school years, technology has been omnipresent throughout my education path.  In high school, the use of Smart Boards helped me understand some concept in chemistry and physics since it provided me with concrete examples with the showing of videos and active learning.

However, with all the benefits that technology may have had on me, it also came with its drawbacks.  With all the available resources on the internet, we have to be critical and intelligent more than ever of the sources we choose to reference when writing an essay or simply studying a topic.  The Internet can be a great tool if we learn how to use it.