Friday 25 July 2014

Block 1: Social and Emotional Learning - Chapter 3 of U.D.L

 To help us work towards our school goal of purposefully implementing the Universal Design for Learning approach to our formal planning (sometimes referred to as "Backwards by Design", "Understanding by Design", or "Planning With The End in Mind), my principal has provided our staff with a copy of Dr. Jennifer Katz's book, Teaching to Diversity: The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning. As I make my way through the book, I will be summarizing my learning as a means of organizing my thoughts and getting clarification on particular ideas.

Teaching to diversity, the universal design for learning, teaching to diversity book synopsis
Teaching to Diversity Cover. (Accessed 2014). Uploaded to Amazon; Portage& Main Press. 
Available online at:

Link between Emotion and Academic Achievement
- Students need to feel comfortable and safe in the classroom environment
  in order to be socially and emotionally prepared to learn
- A child that is stressed, or uncomfortable/threatened, will not be able to
  effectively concentrate an absorb/apply new information
- Teaching to the Heart and Mind
     - Gifted students may experience higher levels of anxiety while at school
       do to the high amount of connections their brain makes when looking at
     - Recognize that social and emotional learning is not necessarily linked
       to economic status, home situations, peer groups, etc
     * Case Study - Micheal (chains)
- Multiple Intelligences and Social and Emotional Learning
     - Do not stereotype or label children based off of prior knowledge alone
     - Children need to know that their life has meaning, they are valued, and
        that they have something to contribute to the world
     - Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences factors in two social and
        emotional areas: Interpersonal and Intrapersonal
          - Inter: social awareness and respect for others
          - Intra: self-awareness and self-respect

The Respecting Diversity Program
- Program implemented into schools that increases self-respect and respect
  for others
- Help students recognize their individual strengths
- Introducing Multiple Intelligences to Students
     - Demystify the idea of multiple intelligences and educate students so that
       they have a platform and understanding of vocabulary and concepts in
       order to understand 
     - Specific time is set aside to discuss and explore this idea so that each
       student understands where they fit in this idea
- Script for Respecting Diversity Program
     - Includes 9 lessons to introduce multiple intelligences to students

     * Case Study - Derrick (sports impulses)

Extending the Program across the Curriculum
- Use multiple intelligence language in other curricula activities to reinforce
  concepts and diversity
     1 ) Language Arts/English
          - Theatre (bodily/kinesthetic)
          - Write songs (musical)
          - Book clubs (interpersonal)
          - etc
     2 ) Math
          - Provide manipulatives (bodily/kinesthetic)
          - Word problems (linguistic)
          - Create visual examples (visual spatial)
          - etc
     3 ) Science/Social Studies
          - Build models (bodily/kinesthetic)
          - Create experiments (logical, intra-personal)
          - Environmental studies (naturalist)
          - etc
- Include social curriculum into your regular class, as well as academic
     - hold weekly meetings
     - talk about goal setting
     - have students reflect on their learning
- RD Program Outcomes
     - Students were interviewed and shared that they felt more self-aware
       and confident about who they were as learners
     - Students felt that they understood their peers better and found it easier
       to put themselves in their shoes when someone was experiencing
     - Reduction in teasing
     - Strengthened sense of community
* Case Study - Jay (dyslexia)
- Spirit Buddies
     - Some students start the day having no connections with peers, adults,
       etc and are left with no positive interactions and a sense of isolation
     - Set aside time each morning for students, in small groups, to meet,
        share, and use active listening 

Creating Democratic Classrooms
- Involve students and provide them with choice
- Five Characteristics of a Democratic Classroom
     1 ) Teachers & students work collaboratively to ensure students'
          learning contributes positively to the community
          - Service projects
     2 ) Students demonstrate learning outside of the classroom &
          receive public feedback
          - Presentations to others, parents, etc
     3 ) Students are provided with choice (individual and group)
          - Scheduling, format, representation, etc
     4 ) Students are presented with a problem-solving approach
          to learning
     5 ) Students are held to a high degree of excellence
- Seven Principles of a Democratic Classroom
     1 ) Social is as important as academic
     2 ) How you learn is as important as what you learn
     3 ) Cognitive growth occurs with social interaction
     4 ) Children require a set of social skills in order to be successful
          - Cooperation, self-control, responsibility, etc
     5 ) Knowing our students as individuals is as important as what
          we teach them
     6 ) Knowing our students' families is vital
     7 ) How a school staff functions together is as important as
          individual competence 
- Six Teaching Strategies in Democratic Classrooms
     1 ) Class Meetings
     2 ) Rules & Logical Consequences
     3 ) Guided Discovery
     4 ) Academic Choice
     5 ) Classroom Organization
     6 ) Family Communication Strategies
* Case Study - Melissa (rock throwing)
- Class Meetings
     - Should be weekly but students can call a meeting when needed
     - Strengthens community and ensures that students know the
        classroom is a safe place where issues are solved together for
        the good of everyone
     * Case Study - Jason (my name)


Have you used the formal Respect for Diversity program in your classroom?
I have discussed multiple intelligences with my students and had them fill out surveys and reflect on their type of intelligence, but it has never been to the extent of this program.

Please leave your thoughts below :)


  1. This is very interesting to me. I haven't read the book so I'm going to enjoy reading your summaries. The Seven Principles of a Democratic Classroom really connected with me. Principles 1, 3, 4, and 5 relate well to my teaching style. I do not rule over my class like an authoritarian teacher, but I wish to work with my students, allow them a voice, and a say in the classroom. I guess I work with them the way I would want a respectful boss or principal to work with me. As I create (and edit, and reflect, and create again) my goals for 2014-2015, they all seem to connect to the Six Teaching Strategies in Democratic Classrooms. If we begin our goals there, then we will be on track for a comfortable and safe in the classroom environment where students will be prepared to learn and we (just as important in my opinion) will enjoy teaching in.
    I look forward to your next summary.
    Jackson In The Middle

    1. Michele, thanks for commenting! I too connected with the Seven Principles; I feel like they are something that should be incorporated at a school level, not just a classroom level. Think of how well a school could function if admin, teachers, and students, worked around these principles! The book has a lot of good information, I definitely recommend that you pick it up if you can (there is a link to the amazon purchase page in my reference for the image).

      P.S. my next summary is posted now as well :)

  2. I was lucky enough to take a class with Jen this year at the U of M and hear her talk about the RD program. I, too, have had students fill out multiple intelligence surveys, etc., but have never really done anything with them. I like the idea of talking about the different ways that we are "smart" and giving those students who don't generally succeed in traditional schooling a feeling of worth. It also gives them the opportunity to be an expert in something that they do have strength in. I was teaching a K class last year, so I didn't really bring in the program (although it is doable at that age). This year I am teaching a "rough around the edges" sort of group (lots of boys and lots of big personalities) and I think that this might be a good fit to help them work more cooperatively (grade 3).

    In my uni class, we had "spirit buddies" as well. At the beginning, it seemed like a lame exercise (and there were several of my classmates who took it as a extra 15 minutes to get a coffee) but I also see the value in it. I started looking forward to that time with my buddies, and was sad when they weren't there. We actually still keep in contact even though we're no longer classmates.

    There's my two cents! Sorry if it's a little TL;DR! :)

    Apples, Owls, and Peppermint Mochas

    1. Dawn, I'm jealous that you got to take a class with Dr. Katz! She is actually offering a summer class right now that I seriously contemplated taking, but I couldn't make the logistics work with being 4 hours from the city.

      I am wanting to spend more time addressing multiple intelligences and utilizing the RD program as I have a very diverse group for 4 classes this upcoming year (I only had them for 1 class last year). They sometimes have difficulty relating to one another and there can be some bullying because of it. Maybe we can share results if you try it with your group too!

    2. I would love to collaborate on it with you! We can swap notes :)
      Jen was amazing. It was interesting to see how she could make connections between curriculum and students in a way many people would think impossible (i.e. a student working on subtraction skills while participating in a Grade 12 Pre-Calc project)! Last year MTS offered a two-day UDL seminar in October, I think they might be again this year. If you could make that work, I would totally recommend it!

      Apples, Owls, and Peppermint Mochas

    3. That would be awesome! I just checked out the MTS schedule and I see that they have two different ones with her in December: one on literacy and numeracy and one on aboriginal education. Now that I think of it, I remember my principal mentioning that I would be attending a session on UDL but I have no idea if it is one of these or something completely different; I will have to ask. I do know that our division is having her come out in the spring time to speak so that will be exciting!

      I am actually working on a post about the start of school and how to start up this year and I am going to include some RD info in it if you want to check it out. Either way, I am excited to know that I have another teacher working through this with me :)

  3. We should read these messages more often.
    London call girls


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