Universal design enacting accessible discussions

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One of three slides sets from a workshop on Universal Design for Learning. Other slidesets focus on creating presentation slides and a syllabus to support learning.

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  • OUTCOME: CONSIDER HIGH IMPACT, LOW STAKES WAYS OF CREATING ENGAGED DISCUSSIONS THAT DEVELOP STUDENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS IN PREPARATION FOR CLASS AS WELL AS IN CLASS.Discussions are not just an activity to get students to demonstrate that they’ve read the course material; rather, discussions are an integral to learning in at least 3 ways: connecting students to each other as peer-learners/teachers, establishing a constructivist social dimension for meaning making, and leveraging collaborative/communicative dimensions of student learning outcomes. As with other aspects of course design, teaching and learning activities must achieve some planned outcome, and this may well start with making use of discussions early in a course so that students get to know each other as collaborators, co-learners, sources in information early in the term. Linking interdependence and communication outcomes, discussion outcomes can be identified and, if desired, assessed. The outcome of an early discussion exercise could simply be, create conditions for further learning.However, it can be a difficult task to engage all learners in a discussion as there may be barriers to open and engaging discourse that are rooted in a variety of factors. These could include gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, age, veteran status or disability. Or, these may include visual and auditory processing variations and challenges, or students’ relative strengths with visual and auditory processing. An accessibility goal, then, is to strive to identify impacts so as to better project which teaching and learning adjustment or accommodation may mitigate these impacts. Such considerations help frame the ways in which the classroom is a complex environment that can impact how we design and assign an exercise. So, rather than setting up a “basic” or “standard” discussion based on question posing related to a central text passage or diagram or image, and then allowing students to “Discuss.”, the reality is that the heterogeneity of the classroom may not allow this particular basic approach. We’ll present some alternatives during the discussion today.Resources:Discussion as a Way of Teaching – both a PDF and a Powerpoint version of Stephen Brookfield’s public presentations based on his book of the same name can be found at http://www.stephenbrookfield.com/Dr._Stephen_D._Brookfield/Workshop_Materials.html.Videos frequently used in Preparing Future Faculty courses to showcase two approaches to leading discussions are stored under Class 7 on this MyU page: http://z.umn.edu/ida8101; access only to those with UMinn x.500 login.This statement addresses inclusive teaching practices in order to “expand what is taught, and attend to who is in the classroom and be transparent about why this matters.” http://z.umn.edu/multicultural.
  • Stephen Brookfield – from “Discussion as a Way of Teaching” pdf at http://www.stephenbrookfield.comCONVERSATION – exchange of thoughts & feeling where genial cooperation prevailsDIALOGUE – intersubjective understanding: placing yourself in others’ shoes to see the world as they see it MUTUALITY – deepening and changing understanding based on what we learn from othersDISCUSSION – disciplined & focused exploration of mutual concerns but with no end point predetermined in advanceAims to… develop critical, informed understanding / enhance self-critique / foster appreciation for diverse viewshelp people take informed actionFails when… unrealistic expectations / un(der)prepared students / no ground rules reward systems askew / unclear purpose, task, audience / singular model or model for discussion Image Descriptions:Top image: Image of three students working together at a table in a classroom; two female and one male. Laptops and papers are spread across the table. There is a white board with writing in the background. Image by http://flickr.com/ilenedawnBottom Image: Students sitting in a stadium style classroom. They are reviewing printed materials. Image fromhttp://physiology.med.umn.edu/fun/Visscher2010/index.htmlChávez, Alicia Fedelina. “Islands of Empowerment: Facilitating Multicultural Learning Communities in College.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 19.3 (2007): 274-88. Last assessed June 2012: http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/pdf/IJTLHE261.pdf.Multiculturally congruent classroom learning environments have remained elusive in United States higher education as colleges strive to recruit, retain, and educate an increasingly diverse population. Frustrations run high amongst domestic and international students of color who find collegiate classrooms in the United States difficult to negotiate and often pedagogically incongruent with their own ways of learning and interacting. This article offers findings from a qualitative research study of four professors identified as multiculturally empowering by minority and international students in their college. Results are derived from three qualitative methods of data collection including faculty interviews, student interviews, and classroom observations. Findings suggest six elemental dynamics necessary for college professors to develop and facilitate empowering multicultural learning communities:(a) climate of safety, (b) spirit of risk taking, (c) congruence, (d) reciprocal relationships and roles,(e) multiplicity, and (f) reciprocity.
  • Multicultural Literature Course – Students in this course are expected to write passages based on their interpretation of various forms of art - all art pieces are created by people from diverse cultural backgrounds. A blind student in the course has no immediate means to ‘see’ the artwork and is left out of the process of learning. A simple change, the addition of a discussion element, allows the blind student to ‘visualize’ the art through oral interpretation by other students in the class. Students provide verbal descriptions of what they see, each adds a personal dimension to the description, and ultimately all students benefit from this extra discussion element which fosters deep connections to course content.Other benefits include: Students develop an increased skill set related to interpretation of art Students may increase their public speaking confidence in a low threat environment – interpretations are not assessed.An inclusive learning environment is formed where all students achieve a baseline of understanding of the piece of artThis activity lessens the impact on students whose vision, processing, prior knowledge, or cultural understanding limits full engagement.Allows students to incorporate their individual differences as part of their interpretation or explanation of the image. For example, what might seem like a piano lesson to one student may be seen as representation of a an ideal parent-child relationship to another.The Piano Lesson: Play, August Wilson. Painting, Romare Bearden. Image: http://www.nga.gov/education/classroom/bearden/coda1.shtm. Image Description: A painting of a young African American woman who is receiving a piano lesson. The young woman sits before an upright piano, hands on the keys. Another African American woman stands behind her, leaning over the seated woman’s shoulder, she is pointing to a sheet of music as if instructing the seated woman. The image is simply drawn and while objects are clear and distinct, the image is not intended to convey realism…Biochemistry – A typical biochemistry course contains a significant amount of lecture. Due to the nature of this scientific field of study, small group discussions may not always appear to be a learning activity of choice. However, connecting students to essential elements of instruction is still a vital learning outcome and the inclusion of discussion is a tool to achieve this. The use of models, which can be assembled in groups or used in small group discussions, adds a tangible tool to the reinforcement of learning. Two dimensional models, typically on paper or projected, are very typical and are the most efficient means to present information regarding molecular structures.Three dimensional drawings, with color, can improve the comprehension and understandingHowever, three dimensional models provide tactile and kinesthetic reinforcement and add a dimension of discovery learning as the structure can be seen, felt, manipulated, and discussed in a manner that allows diverse learners to connect with the material.Students with various impacts to learning can achieve a higher level of engagement with course material – molecular models benefit students with processing deficits, visual impairments, tactile and kinesthetic learning strengths, as well as those whose learning is reinforced by multiple modes of engagement. http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Biological_Chemistry/Biochemical_Energy/ATP%2F%2FADPImage Description: A black and white wire diagram of the adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) molecule. The adenine ring is at the top, connected to a ribose sugar, which is connected to the phosphate groups. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molecular_modelImage Description: A photograph if a molecular model configured in the shape of the adenosine-5'-triphosphate (ATP) molecule. The adenine ring is at the top, connected to a ribose sugar, which is connected to the phosphate groups
  • Before, during and after classFor self with later reflectionFor teacher with comments on the wholeFor peers with time to compare / build ideasFor checking in on learning and learning climate: Critical Incidents / Insights QuestionnaireAt what moment in class today did you feel most engaged with what was happening?At what moment in class today did you feel most distanced from what was happening?What action that anyone (teacher or student) took in class today did you find most affirming and helpful?What action that anyone (teacher or student) took in class today did you find most puzzling or confusing?What about this class surprised you the most? (This could be something about your own reactions to what went on, or something that someone did, or anything else that occurs to you.)What, typically, is happening in a team session when you feel most engaged?If you have felt distanced from what was happening during a team session, what was happening that contributed to that distancing/disengagement?What action has anyone (teacher, team member while working on project; other students in the classroom while you’ve been presenting team work) taken in a team session that felt affirming and helpful with regard to your work or the team’s work?What action has anyone (teacher, team member while working on project; other students in the classroom while you’ve been presenting team work) taken in class sessions that felt puzzling or confusing with regard to your work or the team’s work??What about your team dynamic has, overall, surprised you the most? Please use back of sheet to record your response to this item.
  • Image: Of a Welsh Knot – the center holds a three-pointed disc within a circle with a tangle of lines weaving together to shape a know in each of the four corners of the photo. The knot image functions as an analogy for the work of pulling a discussion together: a multi-part central idea or question comes into focus within the weaving of ideas and insights through a pattern established for discussion. Image from http://ritaroberts.wordpress.com/my-welsh-leek-sauce-recipe/Discussions need guiding policies – ground rules; how tensions will be addressed; planned knowledge check; plans for end points / conclusion linked to outcomes set for a given session in light of overall course outcomes.As time for discussion comes to a close:Unless consensus on a set of points is the objective of the activity, do not stipulate consensus as a way of knowing when a discussion has culminated Summarize key points identified during the discussion, these may include areas of agreement and disagreementIdentify what these key points mean in relation to the learning outcomes identified for the activityHighlight unanswered questions that may have arisen which could relate to future/follow on discussions – to extend learning in new directionsListen to hear – what’s been said but not attended to, include divergent perspectives Prepare to report out – either an oral discussion to the larger group, or a written document from the group or each individualGive meaning to the discussion, why was it important.
  • Universal design enacting accessible discussions

    1. 1. UNIVERSAL COURSE DESIGN: Slideset #2: Enacting Accessible Discussions
    2. 2. Students sitting in a stadium style cl reviewing printed materials Image of three students workin table in a classroom; two fema male. Laptops and papers are the table. There is a white boa in the background. • Authentic Learning • Divergent Learning • Ground Rules • Discussion Formats • Learning as risk • Multiple engagements • Formal Teams? • Informal Trios? • Whole Class? • Small Groups?
    3. 3. A photograph if a molecular shape of the adenosine-5'-tr molecule. The adenine ring to a ribose sugar, which is c the phosphate groups A black and white w triphosphate (ATP) the top, connected connected to the ph young African American eceiving a piano lesson. man sits before an upright n the keys. Another n woman stands behind r the seated woman’s pointing to a sheet of ucting the seated mage is simply drawn and e clear and distinct, the ended to convey I Can See it Now The Piano Lesson Biochemistry
    4. 4. Just a few words WRITING TO LEARN – Twitter, Google Forms, ChimeIn, Blogs – White board, Note cards, Camera, AudioBoo DRAWING TO LEARN – Concept maps / synthesizing statements – Diagram creation / analysis with others – Photo quote / designer statement – Problematizing / process narrative
    5. 5. Wrapping Discussions
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