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VSA arts: The UDL Guidelines in Teacher Professional Learning Communities

Posted by udlspotlight on July 2, 2009

VSA arts and its affiliate VSA arts of Massachusetts are exploring Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and inclusive arts teaching and learning by using the UDL Guidelines as key content for their professional development institutes and professional learning communities.

The UDL Guidelines give the teaching artists a common language for discussing student learning. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Don Glass, Director of Outcomes and Evaluation at VSA arts, where he discusses what drew VSA arts to Universal Design for Learning. 

Listen to what excites teachers about UDL

transcript of Don Glass interview

The VSA arts teaching artists and teachers are geographically dispersed across the United States and need a way to share concerns and exchange best practices for working with students with a range of learning, emotional, and developmental disabilities.  The VSA arts professional learning community program, the Communities of Practice,  gives them this opportunity.  Using online and teleconferencing tools, teaching artists work with a coach to exchange feedback on the curriculum, assessment tools, and student work samples.  One tool they are beginning to use is VoiceThread.

VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia album of sorts that holds images, documents and videos and allows users to leave comments in a variety of ways, via: microphone, telephone, typed text, audio file, video via webacam. 

Watch A VoiceThread from VSA’s Professional Learning Community

The VoiceThread shows segments from a lesson taught by Marsha Parilla, a VSA arts of Massachusetts Teaching Artist at the Ohrenberger School in Boston. She is using dance and movement to help students explore the main ideas in a book the students are reading.  At the end of the video you will also hear Kati Blair and Nicole Agois, Education Program Managers at VSA arts in MA, explain how Marsha and the teachers are using UDL strategies to get at their main learning goal of having the students understand the concepts in the storybook.  

Click here to watch the same video via VoiceThread and experience the  UDL-like collaborative functionality of this technology. Do you think this technology is something that could be useful for teachers to use to explore teacher practice? Let us know what you think.

How VSA arts teacher practice aligns with the UDL Guidelines

Access the complete version of the UDL Guidelines: Version 1.0

Multiple Means of Representation Multiple Means of Action and Expression
Checkpoint 2.5: Provide options that illustrate key concepts non-linguistically.

The teaching artist increases students’ access to content through the use of different sensory modalities. For example, the teacher artist reads the story aloud and uses illustrations to build comprehension.

Checkpoint 3.2: Provide options that highlight critical features, big ideas, and relationships.

In addition to the read-aloud and illustrations, the teaching artist uses guiding prompt questions to highlight the critical features of the curriculum: prediction and imagination.

Checkpoint 4.1: Provide options in the mode of physical response.

In the movement exercises, the teaching artist provides alternative options for the students to  respond to the literature.

Checkpoint 5.1: Provide options in the media for communication.

The teaching artist offeres multiple ways for the students to compose – through speech, music, movement, and dance.

Checkpoint 7.1: Provide options that increase individual choice and autonomy.

The teaching artist gives students the choice in the kinds of movements to use for their collaborative machines and cool down.

Checkpoint 8.3: Provide options that foster collaboration and communication.

The teaching artist has students work in small groups to build on each others’ movements. This requires collaboration and communication to make sure the machine parts integrate well as a whole and the meaning of the movements are aligned with the function of the machine.

Many of the UDL Guidelines resonate with arts learning opportunities by providing multi-modal options for representing and engaging with the content, and by providing options for students to express or demonstrate their knowledge and skills.  The arts are a wonderful forum to explore inclusive teaching and learning practices and CAST is looking forward to a continued rich exchange in the years ahead. Bravo VSA arts!

Learn More about VSA arts

VSA arts is an international nonprofit organization founded 35 years ago by Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith to create a society where people with disabilities learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts. VSA arts provides educators, parents, and artists with resources and the tools to support arts programming in schools and communities.  VSA arts showcases the accomplishments of artists with disabilities and promotes increased access to the arts for people with disabilities.  Each year 7 million people participate in VSA arts programs through a nationwide network of affiliates and in 54 countries around the world. VSA arts is an affiliate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

VSA arts of Massachusetts

The Contours of Inclusion: Frameworks and Tools for Evaluating Arts in Education

Arts and UDL Blog <http://artandudl.blogspot.com/>

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