What is the lesson I’m revising?
I am improving on a lesson plan I use to teach Spanish 1 students the verb “ser” (to be). This is done during the fourth or fifth week of school. I want to expose students to this verb early because it is a complicated verb since all of its conjugations are irregular. This is an inquiry based lesson, where students have to read a short story in Spanish to see patterns in the verb conjugations. They will use their prior knowledge of conjugations, subject pronouns, and cognates to help them highlight these patterns. Since my school is one-to-one with computers, students will open the story in a Google Doc. Then, they will highlight, underline, bold, or color code the patterns they see between the subject pronouns and the conjugations. They will also write a few comments off to the side of the document to show their thinking process in making these patterns and conclusions. Finally, they will share the Google Doc with me, so I have a better idea of their thinking process. After they have had sufficient time to make educated guesses about the conjugations of “ser,” we will take formal notes as a class. To wrap up and practice using these conjugations, students will engage with an online questions/response tool: http://www.socrative.com. On this website, I have uploaded pictures of celebrities. Students will have to type individually on their computers a sentence or two to describe these celebrities using the very “ser” (to be). All their responses will pop up anonymously onto the board from the projector. From there, I can do a quick formative assessment of how the class is understanding these conjugations. I will discuss the responses further with the class and see any common errors or misconceptions. At the end of the day, I can download a report that has each student’s name and responses so I can check in with a student who seems to be struggling with these conjugations.
So, how can I improve on this lesson?
“Students in today’s classrooms present a wide mix of abilities and learning needs, e.g. differing degrees of readiness and background knowledge, varied educational and cultural experiences, differing rates of skill acquisition (either gifted or special needs), and broad diversity in the ability to maximize learning through traditional educational methods and materials” (CAST, 2009). Knowing that there are many different types of learners in the classroom, I need to change my lesson plan to accommodate all types of learning. Specifically, I am looking to improve my lesson to help ADHD students engage with the material and stay on task. “Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity,” and I need to find a way to grab these students’ attention and focus their hyperactivity on learning (Harlacher, Roberts, & Merrell, 2006, p. 6). I have read about the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines to help me reflect on my lesson and see areas where I can improve. As Rose & Gravel (2011) suggest, “The UDL Guidelines, an articulation of the UDL framework, can assist anyone who plans lessons/units of study or develops curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) to reduce barriers, as well as optimize levels of challenge and support, to meet the needs of all learners from the start.” I will focus on the three main guidelines of the UDL structure: Provide multiple means of representation, Provide multiple means for action and expression, and Provide multiple means for engagement.
Provide Multiple Means of Representation:
First, I started looking at my directions of the lesson. This is an easy spot where I can add in an auditory piece to offer alternatives for auditory and visual learners. On the learning management website my school uses, I can put the directions in text as well as record my voice reading the directions aloud. This will help students who have trouble focusing on the written material. CAST (2011) explains, “Learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because it allows students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts.” Furthermore, in the directions, I can provide options for language help by clarifying vocabulary so students can transfer prior knowledge between the two. Since “conjugations” is not a word or concept we think about a lot in English, I can provide a link right in my directions to a document that reminds students what a conjugation is and how we write a conjugation chart in Spanish. Similarly, I can clarify syntax and structure by reminding students of sentence structure in English and how they can positively transfer this idea to Spanish. By clarifying the directions and adding helpful hints, students with ADHD know exactly what I am expecting and narrow their attention to those tasks rather than looking through their notes or getting distracted because they do not know the definition of “conjugation.” Finally, my lesson plan already has the suggestion to highlight patterns, critical ideas, and relationships as the UDL guidelines suggest. Students need to highlight or color code on their own, and they have the choice of what method they want to use to show these relationships. For students with ADHD, I could model this process for them and suggest using different colors to represent different patterns. Colors “attract attention, categories, distinguishes objects, and help organization” (Fowler, 2010, p. 50). That way, students can self-monitor their patterns and learn to do this on other assignments as well.
Provide Multiple Means for Action and Expression:
Students are using Google Docs for a large part of this lesson. I give students the option to work with their seat partner or alone to find these patterns in the language and the conjugations of “ser.” I also asked students to add comments on the document so I can see their thought process. Students with ADHD, might find writing these comments distracting or difficult to switch from reading to writing. Therefore, I am changing my lesson plan to give students the option to use a speech-to-text tool (many computers have this as a built-in feature now or they can use http://www.talktyper.com). “Instructional choice is associated with increased academic engagement and decreased behavioral problems” (Harlacher, Roberts, & Merrell, 2006, p. 9). Having the option of writing out the comments or talking through their thought process using a speech-to-text tool, students with ADHD may be more focused and engaged with the activity of finding the patterns and the conjugations of “ser.” Additionally, I can help ADHD students set goals for themselves and monitor their progress. Executive functions are capabilities that “allow humans to overcome impulsive, short-term reactions to their environment and instead to set long-term goals, plan effective strategies for reaching those goals, monitor their progress, and modify strategies as needed” (CAST, 2011). Looking at my lesson plan, this is a strategy I can implement to help all of my students. In the directions, I can have students set a goal for themselves for how they will look for patterns and then how well they will be able to write sentences using the conjugations of “ser”. At the end of the activity, I will have all students see if they reached their goal and have them comment on how well their patterns and strategies worked. This may help ADHD students focus and realize what strategies to use in the future. Similarly, I will suggest that ADHD students use a resource like www.rescuetime.com, where students can see how they budget their time. This website will tell users how much time they spend doing work, looking at email, playing games, etc. This may help students visualize how they use their time and what changes they can make to be a better student. Fowler (2010) also suggests using self monitoring strategies such as tracking time and using timers to help improve students’ performance.
Provide Multiple Means of Engagement:
“There is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts; providing multiple options for engagement is essential” (CAST, 2011). Within this lesson, I have pieces for individual choice and autonomy. I allow students to choose to work alone or with a partner to foster collaboration and community. I also give students enough time to think through their patterns of “ser” and do not rush them into a conclusion. Finally, during the wrap-up activity on http://www.socrative.com, students need to interact with the website, which is fun for them. Fowler agrees that interactive lessons with games or digital media can grab and keep the attention of ADHD students (Fowler, 2010). Finally, on the Google Doc that students used to highlight patterns in the conjugations of “ser” and added comments to explain their thinking process, I can give mastery-oriented feedback. I can give positive feedback as well as suggestions to help students in the future. For students with ADHD, positive feedback can be very beneficial. “Positive feedback helps them stay on the appropriate behavioral path and serves as a key performance motivator” (Fowler, 2010, p. 48). All students can benefit from positive feedback, but making a special effort to compliment ADHD students may help them repeat these good behaviors in the future. Overall, this whole lesson gives many areas for engagement. I have broken the class period into chunks – warm-up, inquiry-based reading to find the conjugations of “ser,” a whole class discussion about these conjugations, and a practice piece by using “ser” to describe celebrities on http://www.socrative.com. Since there are many different activities in one class period, students will be engaged as we change quickly enough that they will not get too bored.
UDL Guidelines and the Whole Class:
Although I have revised this activity for students with ADHD, these revisions are helpful for all students in the classroom. Universal Design for Learning is inclusive of ALL students. Differentiation and engagement strategies will help every student in the class.
CAST UDL Online Modules. (2009). The challenge: learner diversity. Retrieved from http://udlonline.cast.org/page/module1/l134/
CAST (2011). Guidelines examples. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/udlguidelinesexamples/home/
Fowler, M. (2010). Increasing on-task performance for students with ADHD. Education Digest: Essential Readings Condensed for Quick Review, 76(2), 44-50. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.msu.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/815957396?accountid=12598
Harlacher, J. E., Roberts, N. E., & Merrell, K. W. (2006). Classwide Interventions for Students With ADHD: A Summary of Teacher Options Beneficial for the Whole Class. Teaching Exceptional Children, 39(2), 6-12.
Rose, D.H. & Gravel, J. (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines (V.2.0).Wakefield, MA: CAST.org. Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines