The fourth of July festivities have passed and traditionally have signaled the time for me to start thinking about the upcoming school year. Sigh. It's cool though. Last year my team was sent for training on Universal Design for Learning or UDL, and I'm looking forward to setting up my classroom with new ideas. The best way I can think of to describe the overall concept of this framework is Differentiated Learning on steroids.
UDL encompasses all of my teaching beliefs. Many of the same strategies and techniques from my ebook, A Common Sense Approach to Differentiation, is embraced in UDL. As well as my premise of my blog name to set up a classroom balanced for all learning styles. However, UDL takes all of this even further in that is a proactive set up that allows all students choices and access to many resources to engage in lessons and show what they know.
This is post one of my series, Set Your Students up for Success. In order to model the UDL framework in your classroom, it is imperative to get to know your students' motivations and interests. That should be a priority from day one. This year I'm going to stick with tradition but step it up and begin taking notes from the first day of school. I've always had students bring in a "Me Bag" with five items inside that tell about them. I staple a tag with the directions onto a brown lunch bag and give them out at open house the night before school starts. The students share their Me Bags on the first day of school. Click the picture below to download the Me Bag Tags for free.
This year, I'm pulling out an old teaching tool I used years ago and dusting off the cobwebs. The Tab Notebook. Below is a picture and video showing how to make this using a regular college ruled notebook and scissors. While the students share their Me Bags, I'll jot down notes about them in this notebook. Each student has their own tab with pages for me to write down things throughout the year. In the past I've also kept this notebook with me during guided reading time. I've found out a lot of information about their interests during this time that was valuable. As I continue my posts in this series, you'll see why it's so important to learn what motivates and interests your students. The next post will be about setting your classroom environment up for success.