Who remembers the classic mix-tape? Originating in the ’80s, the mix-tape was a compilation of music usually recorded on a cassette tape. An essential for lovers and road-trips, the mix-tape provided variety, keeping listeners engaged! Taking the mix-tape approach and applying it to learning is the theme of this week’s post. We focus on Checkpoint 8 in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Framework. It is about engaging and supporting learners to keep motivated. The strategy is to vary learning demands and resources to optimise challenge.
CAST explains that learners vary in their skills and abilities as well as the kinds of challenges that motivate them to do their best work. All learners need to be challenged, but not always in the same way. They need varied levels and types of demands. Learners also need to have the right kinds of resources to successfully complete the task. Creativity allows for many versions on a theme, too. Here are two practical strategies to get started.
A choice menu is a suitable strategy for learners at any school level or in higher education. A choice menu, also termed a learning menu or choice board, offers a range of options. Learners can choose an option to demonstrate their knowledge of skill. Learner preferences should be included to support learner variability and optimise choice. The requirements of the task can be varied, and so too, the format in which it is completed.
A strengths-based strategy approach supports learners to play to their strengths by selecting a format and medium that will best represent their skill or knowledge. Variety can also be offered in the complexity of the class. Using the idea of ‘menu’ means we can think in terms of simpler bite-size options, meatier main course options, and dessert for extending the learning or assessment.
Flipped classrooms, alternatively referred to as an inverted classroom or blended learning, involves the learner exploring content independently, prior to the lesson with the teacher. The strategy enables students to access a variety of content at their own pace. Less time is required on acquiring knowledge so there is more time to apply the knowledge and skills in meaningful ways. The increased opportunity for interaction heightens engagement and student interest.
This strategy is often undertaken in university study, especially when taken online. Particularly relevant to schools now, too, with the increase in online distance learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Find further strategies on recruiting interest in learning and promoting student engagement on the CUDA’s UDL page.