Texas Assistive Technology Network Statewide Conference – June 16-18, 2010

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Transcription for Podcast Interview

Interview conducted at TATN 2010 Conference, San Antonio TX

Date:  June 17, 2010

Interviewer: Mike Marotta, Advancing Opportunities, www.assistivetechnologycenter.org , mmarotta@advopps.org

Presenter: Kelly Fonner, www.kellyfonner.com ,   kfonner@wi.rr.com

Session Title : A Universal Design for Learning Approach to RtI.

MM: Hello and welcome to this podcast. I’m Mike Marotta from the Assistive Technology Center at Advancing Opportunities and this interview was recorded during the 2010 Texas Assistive Technology Network Statewide Conference in San Antonio.

MM: Kelly Fonner, MS, is a self-employed consultant and trainer in the areas of assistive and educational technology. She speaks internationally on a wide range of AT topics.

The title of Kelly’s session is: A Universal Design for Learning Approach to RtI.  The session description reads: When curricular lessons are universally designed for the learning of all students, teachers can more easily implement the intentions and strategies of Response to Intervention core principles. This session will describe the process of implementing UDL within the classroom as a practice of providing high quality instruction and intervention matched to student need. Assistance through examples will be given of electronic supports for literacy and setting up progress monitoring. A resource list and supports through websites will be shared.

MM: Hello, we are here talking with Kelly today and we are going to talk about her morning session at the conference which was A Universal Design for Learning Approach to RtI.  Hi Kelly, how are you?

KF: Hey Mike, I am doing pretty good.

MM: Good. Could you take a minute and describe for people the principles of UDL?

KF: Sure. What we went over at this morning’s session was the Universal Design for Learning guidelines, which were expanded in April of 2008 because many people were introduced to them as Multiple Means of Representation, Expression and Engagement. CAST has been the leader in this area and CAST is the Center for Applied Special Technologies, expanded them in April of 2008. So Principle 1 is Provide Multiple Means of Representation and that breaks down into 3 guidelines. The first one is to provide options for perception. The second is provide options for language and symbols and the third is to provide options for comprehension. The second principle is to provide multiple means of action and expression. So that is newer than what a lot of people are familiar with. The guideline number 4 is to provide options for physical action. Guideline 5 is provide options for expressive skills and fluency. Guideline 6 is provide options for executive functions. Principle number 3 – provide multiple means of engagement which has guideline number 7 – provide options for recruiting interest. I really like that word recruit! We talked a lot about that in the session. Guideline 8 is provide options for sustaining effort and persistence. Guideline number 9 is provide options for self regulation.

MM: That’s nice. With that expanded guidelines, it gives people a lot more to grab onto than the original three principles.

KF: Right and in the session we looked at different low tech and high technologies and how they can be applied in each of the principles and guidelines.

MM: Can you give us an example of one low tech and one high tech for any of them? Pick one and give us one example!

KF: Sure! Well, the area of means of representation is probably the simplest because we can talk about how different types of information can be represented across accessible instructional materials. We can look at the language aspects of it – that when you universally design information it doesn’t just open up the materials for students that might have things read to them because at glance they are not reading them, they are not print processing them. But it is also for English Language Learners that we do that for. For kids whose perception that they take away from the materials might not be the original intention – from that textbook. For multiple means of action and expression, a demonstration of what you know for kids to be able to interact with materials. We talked about how some students that are demonstrating their knowledge – it might be to retell the information. To be able to create a scene about what it is they do or what it is they know. To be able to get students to recreate a story through a play and for being able to be engaged in recruiting the interest we talked about how that could be in the area of learning different states, or learning different countries or learning different islands. And how people could engage students in finding out information about those places and recruiting the interest of other students.

MM: OK. When you think about a UDL designed lesson, how does that assist a teacher when they go to implement RtI principles?

KF: One of the things that,  when we try to bring those two things together, is to remember that a lot of good teachers are already doing this. And that Universal Design for Learning becomes the new word for what they may be doing already! So, we talked about what are some of the in-services that people have been through together to learn information and differentiated instruction and multiple intelligences. You know, direct instruction, group learning – and to bring those kinds of in-service information into planning for Universal Design for Learning. And looking at how that approach to Response to Intervention doesn’t make it seem so hard. If I look at any individual lesson – what is the content that all the students need to learn and how does that need to be delivered in an instructionally varied way. What will be the content that most of the students will need to learn and what will be content that some of the students will also walk away with additional information. That speaks to our gifted and talented students so that they are not left out in this process. Then we take a look in that lesson at what are some of the possible barriers – what are the obvious visual barriers but what might be the less obvious auditory barriers, what are the cognitive barriers, what are the physical barriers, what are the communication barriers and what are the behavioral barriers. Then in designing, or re-designing, the lesson – what are some of the adjustments that need to be made. Those adjustments might be looked at through assistive technology but some of them are instructional adjustments that come from differentiated instruction. That come from multiple groupings of kids, how do I redesign how I get information back from kids. Not everything has to be done on a worksheet – things can be gotten from group projects.

MM: Right – and that’s nice because it reminds the teachers that they already know a lot of this stuff. Like you said – it’s not all new. It doesn’t have to involve a “thing” that comes in their room – some kind of tool – but instead it could be strategies they are already using and already have in place.

KF: Right and Universal Design for Learning – although many people were introduced to it through special education – it really is and should be a regular ed initiative from within a school system. That’s why it does pair very well with Response to Intervention because if a lesson is designed universally it opens up that curricular unit to more students. It is not about watering down the curriculum – it is about opening up the information so that more students (and you are hitting that 80% of the first tier of students that way) so that makes it an easier entry point for the next tier of students.

MM: Exactly – well said. Could you take a minute and describe for us how you would go about setting up progress monitoring.

KF: Well, we talked about today looking at what kinds of things are built in to do data collection in some of the assistive technology tools and we looked at what are some of the things in the electronic reading tools. You need to be specific about logging students in so that you know what kind of information you want to track on those students. It is not just about – did they open up a book but what kind of help are they asking for or looking for when they are using that electronic tool. So, do you need to know how many minutes they were logged into something but what kinds of definitions were they looking for assistance from. Did they use certain types of study tools? If there was something built into the electronic reading tools – like checks for comprehension – and in some of the products there might be multiple choice questions that a teacher can then print out and do the checks on them to see if they were monitoring with them. We also looked at some of the software programs that had very specific measurements – products like Classroom Suite or products like Communicate by Choice – where you create specific screens that when assigned to the student, that student gets immediate feedback on correct or incorrect information. Which is the only information that will give the student the feedback that they need to learn from. Then the teacher can go and print that out and keep that as part of an ongoing measure that they can make judgments upon where to change the instructional components for the student so they can do what they need to do which is make adjustments. This is what we are looking for in Response to Intervention – programs that not just collect data but that I do something with that data, in an instructionally sound way for that student.

MM: Now with the information that you shared today – if people have other questions the information you shared today what is the best way  for them to get in touch with you?

KF: In order to get in touch with me – I do have a website which is www.kellyfonner.com or my email address is kfonner@wi.rr.com . Or one of the great resources is the CAST website. We took a look at the materials at the CAST website – www.cast.org – where they have a Lesson Builder program. We also looked at the UDL Edition Books which give you an example of how you can bring electronic materials in and use the different principles of UDL in presenting accessible instructional materials and we looked at the Lesson Builder program. So there is some nice resources there so you can go through the process with the materials in your lessons.

MM: Excellent. Well thank you Kelly.

KF: Thanks Mike.

MM: Thanks for listening to this podcast. For more information about the Texas Assistive Technology Network, visit the website at www.texasat.net . For more information about the Assistive Technology Center at Advancing Opportunities, visit the website at www.assistivetechnologycenter.org .

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