UDL … and changes…

Posted on September 9, 2018

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I’m doing an online “UDL and math” course through LINCS https://courses.lincs.ed.gov/1/mod/assign/view.php?id=7144     (who knows if that link will work w/o login — the site has navigation issues)…  and there’s a whole book online about UDL theory and practice.

There’s much discussion about a major shift in thinking about design and “disability.”    Instead of focusing on learners’ individual strengths and weaknesses and giving them access to things that would get them over/around/through barriers,  the focus is now more about changing the actual contexts for learning.   This makes a lot of sense given that our assorted technologies have exploded the options for presentation of stuff to/ with students, engaging in stuff and students’  expressing knowledge.   (Good grief, it wasn’t that long ago that … you had your textbook.   To make your own “stuff” was a formidable, time-consuming task.  Sharing it?   Shipping it physically…)

One idea is that shifting the learning context can radically shift how a person experiences opportunities to learn.  Example:   bright student w/ reading prblems is disabled if the information is in print… but not if it isn’t.

With math the situation is a whole lot more complex.   There’s so much “context” that matters to students but … it’s invisible and simply not talked about in the same way as things like alternatives to print.   There are people who think that students need to point their faces at print to “read” and that, somehow, an audio book isn’t “reading” … but at least it’s a debatable thing.   Presenting math in ways other than symbols and equations?   We have some talk about manipulatives and using them to get to those symbols but it’s generally relegated to elementary school.

Okay, I did have a whole course in using manipulatives in secondary school mathematics… but usually that stuff is done as a “fun intro” and then… back to the symbols, often without exploring the connection.  It’s great for the kiddos who are already fluent in the abstract — they will make those connections.

How can we teach math so that   the same way an Octavia Butler or Stephen J. Cannell can struggle with language and hten end up being gifted writers… a person who struggles w/ the symbols of math could learn and express awesome and creative ideas with math?

Next is some exploration of learning about Rubik’s Cubes, which I never even began to master… I’d definitely “have a disability” because no, I don’t have strategies for getting those things to line up… but I know the strategies are out there and I could figure them out and wouldn’t be wicked fast, but I could do it.  (I think I’ll work on other things ;0)

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