My final UDL action plan will examine the 6th grade ELA Common Core Standards for unit one. My intention is to make unit one universally designed for all learners in my 6th grade class for the 2012-2013 school year.

Next year I will be teaching this content in a full inclusion classroom with a wide range of learner variability. At least 6 of the 48 students will have significant global intellectual disabilities and approximately 10 other students will have an IEP for a more mild disability. And of course, every other student in the class, regardless of disability, will present variability on how he or she can best access the content.

The Common Core standards and curriculum maps can be accessed at: http://commoncore.org/maps/ , but you have to pay to actually see the standards (hmm, we are switching to a national curriculum, and someone is making money off of it). I can view the 6th grade maps because my school has paid for a username and password, but I can’t share the maps here. (There are, however, some examples in the following discussion).

You can learn more about the Common Core for free and in video format at:

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/common-core-standards-ela

In general, a key feature of adopting the Common Core maps is to move schools towards thematic teaching in each grade, centered around six, six week themes. Each theme has an essential question that is supported through exemplar texts for each grade level.  The common core in ELA focuses deeply on text complexity and teaching students to rigorous grade level standards.  It also integrates reading and writing through teaching content.

The first six-week curriculum map for 6th grade is titled: I Won’t Grow Up. My overarching goal is to closely examine this unit and make it aligned with UDL. The map is only a broad outline of what is expected to be covered in six weeks and I am fortunate to teach at a school that allows for instructional flexibility.

I plan to incorporate UDL guidelines and principles throughout each lesson. My personal instructional goal is to ensure that there are multiple forms of engagement for students, multiple ways to represent their learning, and multiple means of expression. Some of the Common Core standards are written as UDL goals, while other have the “means” embedded and act more as traditional teaching objectives.

For example:

L.6.1(a): Ensure that pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, possessive).

This Common Core “focused standard” is written without a means and reads like a UDL goal. A teacher could adapt this “standard” to his or her students. Students could show that their pronouns are in the proper case through discussion, written examples, peer editing, etc.

Yet many standards have the means embedded.

For example:

W.6.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

In this case students have to “write” in order to show their learning. While I do not want to alter the new national standards, I will have students in my class who cannot write. My goal is to incorporate technological supports in order to make this standard accessible to all students.

The Common Core Maps also have more specific learning objectives which incorporate limiting means for demonstrating knowledge.

For example:

Research the relationship between authors’ lives and what they write about through reading author biographies, autobiographies, letters, and interviews; present findings to the class.

My goal is to take the Common Core standards and enhance them to be more UDL aligned. I then plan to look at the objectives and ensure that if the “means” require a student to have a discreet skill that I also have supports to ensure that all students can access a specific skill. For example, using the objective stated above, I might state:

“Students will be able to research the relationship between author’s lives and what they write about by reading the aforementioned texts, reading with a peer, using assistive technology, and finding videos on the authors. Students could also present their findings to the class in a poster, song, rap, poem, letter, essay, collage, timeline, or video.”

My goal is to make sure that there are enough accessible means embedded in each objective to allow students to present their learning in a variety of meaningful ways.

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