Quite often the curriculum combined with standards resembles the beginning of the children’s book, Going Places (Reynolds, 2014). In this story, when presented with the school go-cart competition, all students build and wire their own go-carts. The school delivers several kits to the student body. To be fair, every student received individual boxes of exactly the same materials and exactly the same instructions.
Most students followed the directions and completed their go-cart for the following race day. Current curricula, often with the one-kit-fits-all mentality, needs significant accommodations and modifications to meet the needs of diverse populations in elementary schools. Being fair, offering exactly the same presentation, the same inflexible assessments, and the same expectations or lowering expectations actually disables the opportunity to explore creativity and uniqueness.However, flexible teachers encouraged by students’ strengths, weaknesses, and needs address the discrepancies and allow for differentiated learning. Peter and Paul Reynolds address differentiation with the self motivation inspired by a bluebird’s flight (2014). Two students created something much more unique than the model contained in the kit. Without specific directions from the teacher, these characters transformed a simple plan into a magnificent flying machine.
This accomplishment resembles the three principles of UDL, engagement, expression, and representation. Unfortunately, in our schools, many students miss the opportunity to excel because the scaffolding and the support adapt the curricula for the few regardless of the many. Yes, I agree that legislation, standards, and high-stakes testing have taken their toll on optimal learning experiences.
Fortunately, today teachers can access technological advances that address many concerns including differentiating in our schools. Readability options, video options, and audio options support students and the process of learning information. Knowing that students engage in communication with friends via texting, email, snapchat, and other social networking, teachers provide blogging exercises creating a social experience with academic goals. The audio systems allow clear sounds and braille systems address vision and hearing issues, while comprehension grows with other apps. Apps that address language with visual clues encourage early language and English language learners vocabulary growth.
UDL considers the whole child and the strategies for learning, mathematics, and comprehension. Its components require a shift of teaching and learning processes that ultimately will improve the curricula for all students. Perhaps, as implementation of UDL’s components, principles, and theories allures more teachers and administrators through advocacy, education reform may take off and be Going Places (Reynolds, 2014).
Going Places Book Trailer. (2014, March 14). Retrieved June 5, 2014, from https://youtu.be/0uxq6d7Ql80
Reynolds, P., & Reynolds, P. A. (2014). Going places. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.