April 2018 Newsletter – Engagement: The Why of Learning

According to the CAST Universal Design for Learning Guidelines:

“…learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn.”

Individual children have unique learning styles and approaches to learning. The goal of implementing UDL is to ensure that teachers explore many different ways of engaging learners. Here are a few specific recommendations that are included in UDL that can be applied to early learning environments:

  • Provide opportunities to work in groups and independently
  • Allow children to choose the materials and the length of time they engage with those materials (within the confines of the daily routine) -in other words, do not rotate children through learning centers
  • Incorporate children’s interest into curriculum activities and themes
  • Find out how children like to be rewarded and recognized and use these unique methods of acknowledgement
  • Incorporate concepts and materials that are relevant to children’s experiences and culture
  • Provide opportunity for children to engage in hands-on exploration
  • Encourage children to reflect on content and learning
  • Gather children’s feeling about their learning experiences
  • Promote creativity and open-ended activities that do not rely on an adult model
  • Create a safe space where children can take risks and make mistakes without punishment
  • Create a predictable routine to provide a sense of security in the environment; limit unpredictability such as loud noises and unannounced contact
  • Provide time and space for children to take breaks away from the larger group
  • Allow for alternative seating in group settings
  • Help children set achievable goals and make plans to reach those goals
  • Display goals and refer to them often to track progress with children
  • Include children in the assessment process and in evaluating their work
  • Provide a variety of materials that challenge children in different ways and on different levels
  • Plan for variations to activities and work in small groups to support individual learners
  • Adapt activities for children who experience sensory aversions to materials – for example, provide the option to use a brush or sponge during finger painting activities
  • Recognize effort and improvement over final product
  • Encourage children to contribute to elements of the daily routine
  • Teach children strategies that support social interactions
  • Encourage children to offer help and ask for help
  • Engage children to create behavioral expectations for the classroom, fieldtrips, etc.
  • Plan for how you will recognize children for completing tasks on a regular basis
  • Provide specific recognition that acknowledges children’s efforts
  • Recognize children for sticking with challenging tasks, regardless of the outcome
  • Teach children coping and self-calming strategies such as deep breathing, asking for help, or taking a break (before they need to use them)

Adapted from: CAST (2018). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.2. Retrieved from http://udlguidelines.cast.org

To view the article on Representation – The What of Learning , click here.

To view the article on Action and Expression – The How of Learning, click here.

To view the article on Director’s Corner – Helping Teachers Understand and Implement UDL, click here.