Westglen School, K-6: Universal Design for Learning

Uploaded by edpublicschools on 21.09.2012

(Teacher) Four out of four for floating,
four out of four for load, four out of four for stability,
four out of four and done.
♪ ♪
(Student) Then water started leaking and it sunk.
(Jody Lundell) If we're a community school, we're a school
for all of the children who live in the community whether you're
quote- regular or whether you have diverse learning needs.
And how do you say that some kids can come to the community
school and others can't?
I think we're moving to a more strength based approach where we
look at diversity as a strength and something to be proud of.
When you have classes of diverse learners, and every class in
Edmonton, in Alberta, North America, is comprised of diverse
learners these days, we need to really focus on instruction
and high quality instruction for every kid.
And Universal Design gives us a way of doing that.
That, I think is improving instruction across the board.
But I just found cups and it might work exactly the same.
When I came here four years ago, I think Westglen was
in the same place that many, most of our district schools
were, in that if kids were struggling or had challenges we
had a tendency to asses them, code them and send them off to
district centred programs where we believed their needs would be
better met or that they were better equipped to teach kids
with special education needs.
(Teacher) Things that don't seem to help it develop...
(Jody) We had a group of parents who were very committed to
keeping their kids in the community school and
we began our journey into inclusion.
(Parent)...become more independent.
And I just like to help, help her along if I can.
♪ ♪
(Jody) We always say "Community school is our alternative
program." Parents like the idea of the community school, they
want their kids to be able to walk to school, to have play
dates with kids who lived in the neighborhood and to have that
sense of community where when you're walking down the street,
you're out in the playground, you're at the grocery store,
you see people that you know.
Parents here are also very involved in the school and um,
that's also helped to develop that sense of community.
We came to Westglen halfway through kindergarten and met
with Mrs. Lundell and explained the situation.
At that point in time Cameron was going through
tremendous amount of testing. He hadn't been
diagnosed but we knew a diagnosis was forthcoming.
She had suggested to us that we transfer him in the middle of
kindergarten so that they have some opportunity to see him, to
see what sort of supports he needed to have put in place and
uh, set him up for success basically for grade one.
(Jody) Children with complex needs have to have specialized
supports. Sometimes that might look like E.A. support.
Sometimes it might be specialized equipment or
technology. At Westglen we've really focused and
really emphasised Universal Supports for all children.
(Teacher) Because of the nature of his learning,
the style of his learning, he's a strong visual learner,
we should start pictorially.
(Jody) So we look at how can we remove barriers for kids who are
in the margins or for kids who might struggle with reading,
with writing, with socializing, with attention and provide
supports that will enable all children to learn.
(Teacher) To demonstrate the meaning of equality and
inequality concretely and pictorially.
(Jody) It really is the beginning of a journey, teachers
have different levels of skill, of openness, varying levels of
comfort with technology. And so we're working together
as a staff to implement a Universal Design for learning
approach across classrooms. And it does look different
in different classrooms at this point in time.
<i> (singing)</i>
<i> (clapping)</i>
(Student) Fire crackled in John Fleming's house.
(Jody) We decided to start in one classroom and that was how
we began our journey with Universal Design for learning.
Teachers start to see kids who have struggled in the past,
kids for whom reading or writing have been tremendous
barriers making huge gains, developing confidence,
becoming independent learners.
(Kevin Becker) We've seen kids that, that maybe couldn't write
before all of a sudden writing things that they've never ever
done before. It's amazing to see that kind of thing.
To see the growth and to see the smiles on their faces.
To see their, the excitement of you know,
"I've written two or three paragraphs."
Are you putting on some graphics are you?
(Jody) What started to happen is, there was a spillover effect
into other classrooms and other teachers started to say
"What's going on in that classroom, I would like to
learn more about this approach, I would like to learn more
about how technology can support all kids in their learning."
And beginning this year we have looked at whole school
professional learning and beginning to implement a
Universal Design for learning approach across all classrooms.
When I first started my career it was "Stand and Deliver"
and now we're working with computers and kids have hands-on
and it's a lot more interesting for the kids, that's for sure.
They're far more involved in their learning.
We're more involved with the kids.
It wasn't a quick change, it was an evolving kind of change.
Kids have this innate ability, uh, often they can learn on
their own, they're learning from each other. At our school
we've had pairings with the grade twos and the grade fours.
Sometimes the grade fours are learning from the grade twos.
The interesting part about that is that the computers are the
vehicle for all these guys learning together.
They become the experts in our class and then
they teach three or four other students.
It's empowered me, it's empowered the children and
I think it's leveled the playing field to some degree.
Technology is an excellent leveller.
One of the examples in here is um, one of the programs
that you can highlight text from any website or any
program and it'll read it to you.
So it just opens up a whole new world, especially in division
one with younger students who can understand language if it's
spoken to them or read to them.
So in science and social studies they can research concepts that
are far beyond their reading level. So even students who
have coding can engage in what they're interested in
even though there's not print materials made for them.
(Jody) And I really believe that in this day and age and
the 21st century with the access that we have to technology,
that a reading disability should not be a barrier to
being able to be in a regular class, to going to university,
to being able to get a great job and function in the world.
♪ ♪
(Barb) People always think of UVL as computer and high tech.
But really a lot of it is low tech because they need to learn
how to use these things and decide which one works for them.
So it takes us a long time to decide which ones are doing.
But if you come in and watch a math class, you will see some
children with rec and rec, some children counting the number
line on their desk, and some children using their fingers to
figure out the answers to questions. And so you have to
teach them all of these different techniques that you
have or all of these different strategies of how to do things
and then they choose the ones that work best for them.
Often with children what you're doing is asking them
"How did you learn that? How did you figure that out?"
Because you want them to understand who they are as
learners. You want them to know what strategies or what
things you have available they need to use in order
to be the best that they can be.
♪ ♪
(Kelly) In terms of inclusive practices, Universal Design for
Learning ensures that the learning environment is there
for all students. So regardless of what abilities or
disabilities they're coming in with, whether that's physical,
psychological, emotional, the classroom environment is
set up so that all children are welcomed and embraced.
And one of the things that I love about UVL is that every
child has access to the materials whether they have a
disability or whether they don't.
Those children that do have disabilities or barriers or
learning difficulties feel honored in the classroom.
They're not singled out, they're not pointed out, they look like
everybody else because has access to every tool.
So whether you choose to use the tool or not is based on your
preferences and your choices, not based on whether or not
you're coded or not coded or different or normal.
Every child in here is a learner and they come in with
certain preferences or certain strengths and
certain difficulties or barriers and it doesn't matter
what their background is.
They can find those tools that will help them succeed.
To meet the needs of all our diverse learners, we have a
lot of tools and strategies in place throughout the classroom,
some that people might notice, some that are subtle.
Large amount of movement to stay focused.
The fidgets are meant to maintain focus during teacher
directed activities. Some students need a wiggle cushion.
A bungee cord that they can hook their feet in and provide
some gross motor support.
We call it "On the Go."
So from the FM to having a dock cam, to show anything live up on
the Smart Board, having a wireless keyboard where students
can take it to their desk and type and it'll show up for their
classmates to see. From the visual schedule to buckets
with manipulatives. Extra supplies for that student who
will have a panic attack when they can't find their pencil.
All these supports are in place in the classroom and the
students know how to find what they need to meet their needs
and the teachers have access to multiple means to represent what
they're trying to teach their students so that we're removing
those barriers to learning and all children are able to learn
and express what they know. This is a way for the students
to prioritize the activities that they have to turn in.
So they know to do the first activity. They can come,
they can check their name to see if they're done.
Once they finish the activity they put their name in,
they turn their page in and they can move down and check
if they're done the next.
There's a spot for early finishers that has the
activities that are acceptable that they can that
they can work on and they can select from this list.
So they've got choice in their engagement.
So there's a teacher sequence of what's expected and
then there's an amount of student choice as well.
So if you need a walking break in the hallway, feel free to
grab the blue or the red bone put it on your place marker, ok.
So you can still take your walking breaks and your
washroom breaks, water breaks.
And we were going to bring our headphones because often in here
it gets really loud especially kids who are working by the
testing station, if it's too loud for you, grab your red
headphones off your hook, you can wear them around your neck
or you can wear them on your ears.
You can take them on and off as needed.
If I give the bump bump de bump bump....
(kids) bump, bump
and somebody has their headphones on and their head
down, tap them on the shoulder.
(Teacher) The first thing that we need to do when we're working
with Universal Design for Learning is identify some of the
learner profiles and barriers that students have.
(Kelly) I found with UDL planning, at the beginning of
the year it's slightly more front loaded because you need
to think of your strategies and plans. So the first few
weeks of the year can be a little bit more hectic.
Even just having him draw the blocks would be useful I think.
Thumbs up if you've done this step?
You're filed it in your boat building book.
Step two, what's the first thing you're going to
do once you build your boat?
(Student) Does it float?
(Teacher) Does it float.
♪ ♪
(Interviewer) Why are you building these boats?
Well it's just an experiment and stuff.
(Interview) And what's an experiment?
Um, where you like, do stuff and you see if it works
or if it floats or sinks and if it's stable.
(Interviewer) So do you think yours is going to be stable?
Yeah, I hope so.
(Kelly) But once those pieces are put in place, you have your
learner profile, you know your students, you have your physical
set up and the students know where things are.
The lesson planning from there flows so quickly because you do
it during the lessons with the kids based on where their
lessons are going, based on their questions, based on their
interests. So a lot of my lesson planning becomes with the
students and then a quick amount at the end of the day just
to check in where they're at or look at some of their samples
and make sure we're heading in the right direction.
But I find a lot of my planning becomes natural authentic
learning inquiry based in front of the student together.
But really the lesson evolves with the students' engagement.
So it actually takes the pre-planning out of the lessons
and puts it into the hands of the kids during the learning.
♪ ♪
I work to support wellness in the students, in their parents
and in staff. It's helping staff understand that
they can manage their own emotions by using self talk.
And so when they've got difficult kids in their
classrooms, it doesn't have to end up that they're frustrated
and angry about it, they can manage that in a different way.
It helps with burn out and compassion fatigue.
Brains can only learn if they're in a state of calm attention,
that's the only time brains can learn.
Breathe only as fast as the breathing ball tells you.
(Mardi) So in order the kids to be involved in a learning
environment they have to be able to calm their own brain.
Blow out all the candles.
<i> (exhale)</i>
That's sometimes what we call engagement, they have to be able
to get their body ready and their mind ready to be able to
learn and then to be able to attend to the teacher.
So sometimes I think about emotional regulation as being
the foundation or one of the foundations for UDL.
(Mardi) Cameron's a little boy in grade one.
He came to us part way through kindergarten and he
has multiple diagnoses including Tourrette's disorder.
We have lots of supports in place for Cameron so that he can
be successful in a regular grade one classroom.
There are universal supports, school wide, including,
for example, the emotional self regulation work.
And there are more targeted and specialized supports
provided to Cameron in the classroom.
(Mardi) If you think you know what the feeling is,
put your hand up silently.
Some people don't understand it.
Sometimes I need to itch all over.
Sometimes even on my body.
Even I do this sometimes.
It's so hard to stop it.
(Barb) He also had auditory issues like sensory issues, so
if things don't feel right to him he'll often sit on his
feet because his chair is cold. So if we put a cloth
over his chair then he can sit properly to read and write.
Like it's a kind itch that when you itch the first one
it gets another one in your body and I can't
really stop it all the time.
Sometimes this.
Yeah. It's very hard to stop it.
(Barb) Cameron doesn't have any learning issues so we're lucky
on that level because Cameron is very bright, very engaged
student. It's not hard to engage him in what you're doing.
He really likes to learn. And so that part of it is easy.
A lot of his problems have really diminished as the
year has gone on. And the children have learned too.
One of the first things we did was work on how do you ignore
the ticking? Like how do you ignore those noises
because the rest of the class really has to learn
to ignore them and not start doing the same thing.
Because in grade one someone makes a noise, 'oh that's
a cool noise' and then you get 20 of them. So teaching
the children to ignore that noise and not copy it.
So we spent quite a lot of time early in the year
setting that up so the children know that it's
not acceptable for them and that he can't help it.
If I didn't have Cameron, we would still work on ignoring at
the beginning of the year, work on ignoring the person behind
you who sings under their breath because it takes a while for
children to stop doing those kinds of things because we've
been on holidays all summer, they can sing and dance whenever
they feel like it. Ignore the person who is trying to
talk to you, give them the hand, tell them you can't talk right
now you're busy, you know, give them signals that they know.
And I use sign languages with the kids, so if somebody's doing
something they can tell them to stop without having to say
anything. And I teach them, you know, please stop
if they're having trouble getting the person to stop.
And I try and teach them signs that they can use
so that they don't have to disrupt each other.
Sometimes I knock down chairs.
Chairs are knocked down other big kids or people.
And it's very hard for me to stop.
(Barb) Coming in at the beginning of the year he was
very focused on things.
So if he saw a ball rolling across the gym, he got focussed
on the ball and he mowed down anyone who was in his way.
So we had to take him slowly a few kids at a time into the gym
and teach him how to watch out for the children
so that he wasn't running into them.
And now he goes into the gym and he rarely bumps into, you know,
he's no different than any other one of the kids that
occasionally would bump into something. And it's really
important that you do things in small steps to get him going.
Sometimes I get a little bit of action or a yell out
or a call out and it will distract other people.
It's good that I have quiet space.
(Interviewer) What does that mean?
It means I need, that means where I rest for a little bit.
(Barb) I am very fortunate I have an awesome Aide who
notices things. Between us we notice most of things that
are going on with him and it really helps.
And she has been very good about cueing him when she sees him
starting to get anxious or starting to ramp,
what we call ramping up. He calls it a brain storm.
And as the year has gone it changes.
So the ticks don't stay the same all the time.
And I always feel every day we're going to see what,
we'll see what happens. Today we had to tie his eraser to
his desk because he couldn't keep it on his desk.
So it was easier to tie it on his desk then to sort of,
it's better for him if we just tie it there where he can
always find it and if it flops off it's easy to get back.
I think the most important thing with any child that
has extra needs is communication. And
communication in a style that works for particular family.
And we're the experts in our children,
they're the experts in education.
And the two have to come together and work together.
(Interviewer) Does he have friends?
No close friends. We've never had a play date.
Which is really hard, really hard.
I'm hoping that's going to change.
I think one of the, one of the problems is um, they don't have
very good social skills, a lot of children with TS.
And uh, that's something they're working on in the school,
actually they're working on it with all children.
I can't speak kindly enough about Westglen, to be honest, I
don't know what we'd have done if we just stayed where we were.
Westglen's given us the support that we've needed, it's given
Cameron the support we've needed. And as a family we've
just grown. Where we are today compared to where we were a
year ago is like night and day.
(Cameron) And, but when I grow up I'm going to be an
archeologist and I'm going to study rocks because I'm very
smart. I actually started studying rocks already.
♪ ♪
(Barb) I think that most teachers with enough support and
professional learning can teach in an inclusive setting.
♪ ♪