Antiracism and UDL

Posted on October 27, 2020


I’m putting questions together for tomorrow’s discussion of Chapter 5: Engagement as a license to learn.

I’m reminded that in 2018, CAST revised their Universal Design for LEarning Guidelines. The handy chart had looked something like this:

and the more active “checklist,” like the above…

The new guidelines are radically different at several levels.

… One of the more striking changes is the shift of “engagement” from third to first, and  an even stronger emphasis on users deciding what works for them even with these guidelines 🙂  I chose the “version without numbers — and filled out the form to join the community that will be doing revisions.

It’s much more learner-focused (including using the word “learner” instead of “student”).  There is also an even more extensive document with specific activities for gradually transitioning towards Universal Design. 

On page 66, Fitzgerald notes:   “Engagement is so much more than recruiting student interest.”  The UDL guidelines include in “interest recruitment”:   optimize individual choice and autonomy, optimize relevance value and authenticity, and minimize threats and distraction.  

Fitzgerald’s analogy and description of a student in survival mode are vivid.  

  1.  How are our classrooms and systems set up to put students in this mode?
  2. How can we discern when this is happening, since disguising vulnerability is something many students are skilled at? 
  3. What are examples we can apply from the list of ways to increase the “TERA” quotient by building community, having clear expectations, and giving students rank and autonomy in the interactions? 

Engagement in our Black and Brown Communities
On page 74, Fitzgerald takes engagement into an entirely new dimension:   we are to engage in our learners’ communities, to “imagine the power of learning the history, the challenges and the victories from various perspectives” (p. 75)

  1.   What are some of the perspectives that tend to dominate?  How can we learn about the challenges and victories that slip by unnoticed? 
  2. What are challenges and barriers to getting to know the community?   What are some ideas for anticipating and actively overcoming those challenges and barriers? 

The Power of Getting Out of the Way

       This part of the chapter applies those principles for building community and autonomy to independent learning — and not the “getting your homework done by yourself” that we’re prone to reducing that to. 

  1. What are some of the dangers of “getting out of the way” because of how our systems are designed or our mindsets?   
  2. How can we hold ourselves accountable, and enable students to do the same?   What are ways to “document the story every step of the way” (p.82)?   

Are there any reflection questions that especially resonated with you?  


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