Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Course Reflection

As the eight weeks draw to an end, I am happy with all I have learned and accomplished in this class. I enjoyed the collaborative network that we created to share resources through out this course. We worked well together and the ideas that my colleagues provided were very helpful. I have visited and saved many of the links that were posted and have used them in my learning and teaching. Many ideas and words of encouragement were shared that have helped me understand how Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Differentiated Instruction (DI) complement each other.

In week three I first began to understand Universal Design for Learning. Maggie McLaughlin (Laureate, 2009) discussed the responsibility of educators to raise the achievement levels of all students from the very beginning of the year. I learned that it is beneficial to be proactive in designing an educational plan that engages and reaches all students not just the disabled. The Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) UDL guide lines gave me an understanding of how providing multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement improves a teacher’s ability to reach the diverse recognition, strategic, and affective networks of learners (CAST, 2009).

Differentiated Instruction provides specific strategies for customizing teaching and assessments based on students’ readiness, interests, and learning profiles. Many of the strategies suggested in this course I have been using for years. What I have learned through this class is how technology helps me be more flexible with my assessments and making it more affective.

This class has given me hundreds of ideas. I have spent many hours researching and investigating sites and tools that I can incorporate into the classroom. At times I have been overwhelmed but I am taking the advice of many and letting my inhibitions with technology go. I invested in a smart phone. These last few weeks I have installed over fifty new applications. Students have been the biggest contributors to easing my anxieties. Technology is a tool that I should not be intimidated by but something that I see as necessary in the 21st century classroom. Technology enables teachers to increase learning and achievement for all students.