Does UDL play well with others?
This episode of UDL in 15 Minutes is a wonderful representation of the layers that are present in a UDL-driven lesson. Gina shares a fabulous example of UDL implementation via a lesson she taught during the height of the pandemic when students were learning via distance learning and their social-emotional needs were growing. Gina used resources within her district and her own digital connections to devise an experience where all of her students thrived academically and social-emotionally. We know that none of this happens magically. I’m going to focus on one of the pillars of her success.
Gina’s students entered the pandemic with digital skills that went beyond how to use different digital tools. The students understood how the tools empowered them to learn and show what they had learned. This was because Gina learned about and chose to work with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Student Standards (https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students). If you’re not familiar with ISTE, it is an organization that “promotes the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education” (https://www.iste.org/about/about-iste).
Within their website, you can find standards for students, educators, education leaders, coaches, and computational thinking (computer science). As Gina noted during our conversations, the ISTE Student Standards are distinctly influenced by the UDL guidelines. The ISTE standards were designed to help students shift from being consumers to being innovators and from being passive to active participants in their use of technology.
The standards address the following 7 areas:
Here’s what I like about these standards (and why I appreciate the UDL guidelines so much). If you look at these standards and the sub-standards, you gain a sense of why you want to use technology in your classroom. These standards move us away from “it’s here, so I should use it,” and “the students really enjoy it when I use technology.” Instead, your “why” blossoms which means the opportunities for your learners blossom, too.
I’m not naïve enough to believe that some won’t look at these standards and become overwhelmed. I can hear someone saying, “Now I have to do this, too?” I get it. I do. So, before you go there (or if you’re already have), take a breath (5 counts in and 5 counts out) and start over.
Read through the seven standards again and see which one resonates with you. Maybe it’s something you’re already doing. For example, maybe you have efforts around digital citizenry going on in your building, so you click on that one. You notice that standard 1.2d talks about students learning to manage their own digital data and understanding digital security as well as data-collection technology and it hits you. Fahrenheit 451 is on the list of options for your students to read in one of your spring units. You can use that standard along with your state standards to construct that lesson. Students can reflect on the issues of digital data through the lens of that book. Or, you don’t teach English literature, but you overheard the English lit teacher say that she’s including Fahrenheit 451 on her list this year, so you ask about creating some cross-subject lessons. You teach Ethics. Using Fahrenheit 451 and this digital sub-standard create an awesome base for one of your units. Again, this sub-standard becomes one of the standards you’re going to address in your unit.
The ISTE Student Standards create an organized set of broad-scope touch points and can guide your use of technology in your classroom. And just as Gina experienced, you can have that wonderful experience of watching your students make decisions about their own learning and how they want to use tool to be their best selves and to be those expert learners.