Tuesday, February 21, 2006

From, “Using Universal Design to Unlock the Potential for Academic Acheivement of At-risk Learners” by Acrey, Johnstone, and Milligan

Brenna Wade
February 21, 2006
Educ 233

From, “Using Universal Design to Unlock the Potential for Academic Acheivement of At-risk Learners” by Acrey, Johnstone, and Milligan

In reading the article on Universal Design I found it to be very interesting and learned a few things that I had never even knew about the subject. The teacher’s perspective on her class, full of primarily at-risk students, was very uplifting with the way that she said they were “growing up in a centuries-old culture” that many kids are not a part of. The fact that they were considered at-risk was due to circumstances that many of them did not have any control over.
The teacher knew that her students had the capacity to learn and with the incorporation of Universal Design they could achieve it. She said that the students did better on standardized tests when universal design was incorporated, including those students who had exceptionalities because the law states that they have to be given greater access to material that will help them. The way that this particular school in New Mexico tries to incorporate the design is by the use of study guides and classroom assessments by making it simpler, more flexible, and user friendly. They also collaborated with a professor on graphic design to make their handouts read in a way that the students could understand better.
Implementing the use of Universal Design had a very positive effect for all involved. The article states that “all 51 of the schools teachers participated an incorporated at least some type of changes in their study guides” and although the program was only in affect for a few months, there was definite positive correlations. These positive changes were not only in the child’s grades, but in their behaviors as well. The school plans on continuing their practices of Universal Design “to ensure increased access and success for all students.”
Universal Design is something that I hope to incorporate into my curriculum when I am a future teacher. I think that the whole idea has proven to be effective. Although it takes a lot more work on the teacher’s part, the positive results of the students’ progress far outweigh the efforts. The aim of all teachers is to see their students reach their highest potential and if something as easy as incorporating Universal Design can make that happen, I don’t see why every teacher isn’t already doing it. I am glad that we were given this article and these tips as well as success stories of its use.

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