Special Education

Is the humble GPS more ‘inclusive’ than your teaching?

Ah, the Global Positioning System. Where would we be without it? Probably either not where we would like to be, or still twisting a Street Directory around.

These days most people don’t need to ask for directions, as the GPS is there to guide you with a range of different accessibility features and options. More accessibility features and options than say… nearly every educational framework has to offer? #shotsfired #burn

Sadly, I feel this is true. A GPS provides more universal-guidance than most lesson plans, unit plans or teaching strategies that I’ve come across. I’ve had my fair share in Differentiation and Inclusive Learning professional development. Most of the time, the focus is on using modified approaches or resources so that all students can engage with the same content as their peers. Sounds pretty good, but a lot of the time this approach involves so much adjustment and ongoing planning that teachers fall into the trap of reacting to students’ needs rather than addressing them in the first place. They make accommodations for students, rather than planning for it. Yet, a GPS does it every time, without fail.

Yeah, it’s a device, I get it. But the key difference between the effectiveness of a GPS and the effectiveness of Inclusive Teaching is entirely based on the design.

So: Can you provide more inclusive opportunities than a Global Positioning System? Take the following quiz to find out:

GPS vs Inclusive Teahing

If you said ‘no’ to any of the above questions, well I’m sorry, but the GPS is winning at this point.

But not to fear! Universal Design for Learning is here! Universal Design for Learning is an approach that provides a framework to enable teachers to design for every learner.

The key take-away isn’t that the GPS uses pre-assessment, or has a distinct goal in mind, bla bla blaaa… it’s that it consistently provides multiple options of determining those things. More importantly, these features are embedded in its design from the very beginning.

It’s time to do away with making accommodations for students and time to start planning for them – each and every learner.

If you’re intrigued, my next blog post will be talking more about how to actually implement this framework in your unit and lesson planning.

Also, if you’d like some homework there are some great readings from the original universal geniuses:

  • Nelson, L.L. & Basham, J.D. (2014). A blueprint for UDL: Considering the design of implementation. Lawrence, KS: UDL-IRN. Retrieved from here
  •  Home. (2016). [online] UDL-IRN. Available at: http://udl-irn.org./
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