UDL Spotlight

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UDL and Celebrating Co-Teaching

Posted by udlspotlight on August 5, 2009

A big CAST shout-out to Karen Janowski, a highly respected assistive and educational technology consultant and author of the Teaching Every Student blog, for nominating two extraordinary educators Lisa Parisi and Christine Southard for the UDL Spotlight.

Lisa and Christine are co-teachers in a fifth grade inclusion classroom in Denton Avenue Elementary School, New Hyde Park, NY.  They’ve created a successful co-teaching model that works for them and for their students.  In fact, by the end of the school year in June 2009, 96% of their students, both regular and special ed, had achieved or exceeded grade level standards in both reading and math. Their teaching philosophy is based on two core beliefs that sound simple but are fundamental to their success. First, all students in their class are part of the class…the same expectations for all students. Second, they give all students what they need to meet those expectations. They differentiate instruction, provide tools, and give additional help…all within the setting of a general education classroom.

Below we highlight aspects of Lisa and Christine’s teaching practice that we find inspirational and align with the UDL Guideline principles.  If you are a teacher looking to get started with UDL, be sure to check out Lisa’s Open Letter to Jason about UDL in her blog, Lisa’s Lingo.

Listen to Lisa Parisi

Karen interviewed Lisa about her teaching practices – in particular about the shift she made from teaching content to teaching students how to learn. The full audio interview (see Learn More below) is well worth listening to as Lisa delves more deeply into the teaching philosophy and practice she shares with Christine.
Karen Janowski interviews Lisa Parisi, transcript

So Lisa and Christine make sure the goal is clear and they give their students many ways to learn the material and demonstrate their mastery. For a specific example, check out the class wiki of their award-winning collaborative writing project based on the book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg.  Be sure to scroll all the way down on the wiki to explore how the project participants use VoiceThread to reflect on their project.

Watch a video of the Harris Burdick project

Alignment 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 1.1: Provide options for perception

Assignments and supportive information are available in multiple and flexible media.

Checkpoint  3.1: Provide options that activate background knowledge

Students are provided background information to make decisions about the materials to use.

Checkpoint 5.3: Provide options in scaffolds for practice and performance

Students are encouraged to become strategic about using the tools that are the best match for their abilities. Students have many choices of medium (text, videos, podcasts, posters, etc) to demonstrate their mastery.

Checkpoint 6.3: Provide options that faciliate managing information and resources

Scaffolding is offered throughout the project. Multiple resources (individual teacher time, feedback from peers and teachers in the wiki) are available to students for support.

Checkpoint 7.1: Provide options that increase individual choice and autonomy

Students may choose the tools, materials and environment that works best for them to learn in.

Checkpoint 7.2: Provide options that enhance relevance, value, and authenticity.

The Burdick project was a long-term assignment requiring sustained attention and effort. Students were engaged by learning real world, authentic cooperation and collaboration skills working in groups both in the classroom and virtually in a global community.

We congratulate Lisa and Christine for creating a successful collaborative co-teaching model and we congratulate the principal and administration for a bold decision.  In September, all the inclusive classrooms at their school will have 2 fulltime co-teachers. They are giving it a try…can the model be replicated across the school? Lisa and Christine: keep us posted.

Learn More


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