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Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

Inclusive Education Case Study

Student Profile

Name: Megan
Age: 14
Year Group: 8
Learning Need: Dyslexia

Megan is a highly social and outgoing student who is well liked by her peers and
teachers. She has strong verbal and listening skills, and is confident in
contributing to class discussions. She is also highly imaginative and creative, and
is able to think abstractly. She has a particular passion for the creative arts and is
an extremely talented drawer. As a result of her dyslexia, Megan has issues with
reading; she reads slowly, experiences frequent decoding errors and struggles
with comprehension. She also struggles to put her thoughts down into coherent
and sustained pieces of writing. In class she often gets overwhelmed by her work
and struggles to stay organised and complete assignments on time. Megan
displays anxiety about reading and writing in the classroom, which manifests in
some disruptive behaviour, such as frequent talking in class and asking
irrelevant questions of the teacher.

Current educational policy dictates that the Australian schooling system be one

where all students, regardless of different learning needs, disabilities or

backgrounds, be able to flourish and thrive (Ministerial Council on Education,

Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, 2008). The onus is on Australian

teachers to create increasingly inclusive classrooms that allow all students to

participate and achieve in learning. In this paper, Universal Design for Learning

(UDL) will be explored as a framework that can be used by teachers to design

lessons in which all students can engage. UDL is built upon the idea that

increasing the flexibility and accessibility of curriculum in the classroom benefits

not only those with specific learning needs, but also all students (Kalabate,

2011). This paper will outline the key principles of UDL as a framework and

explore how it can be applied to increase the accessibility of a Year 8 English

lesson plan. There will be a particular focus on how a UDL framework can be
Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

used to assist students with dyslexia, through concentrating on the particular

learning needs of Megan in the above case study. However, it will be emphasized

that all UDL adjustments aim to increase the accessibility of content and learning

activities for not only the specific learning needs of one student in the

classrooms, but rather for all students.

As a framework for designing curriculum and learning activities, UDL is useful

for teachers striving to create more inclusive classroom environments. The idea

of universal design originates from a movement in architecture in the 1970s that

aimed to design physical spaces that were accessible for all (Chodock & Dolinger,

2009). The key tenants of universal design are that accessibility should be built

into design, and that design changes aimed at increasing accessibility for a

particular group of people will benefit many more people. In the 1980s

educators adopted these key tenants to develop UDL (Chodock & Dolinger,

2009). UDL aims to evaluate and then eliminate learning barriers by increasing

the flexibility of all parts of the curriculum. This begins by establishing clear

goals for learning that do not include the means by which the goal needs to be

reached (Meo, 2008). The methods and materials used by learners to reach the

defined goal must then be varied and diverse enough to allow access for all

learners. Similarly assessment must be flexible enough to accurately evaluate the

knowledge of all learners (Meo, 2008). To ensure this takes place a UDL

curriculum must provide students with multiple means of representation,

multiple means of expression and multiple means of engagement (Loreman,

Deppeler & Harvey, 2011). Providing students with multiple means of

representation involves presenting informing in a variety of different formats


Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

that allows students multiple ways of accessing the information. Multiple means

of expression comprises allowing students a variety of ways of demonstrating

their knowledge, including non-traditional assessment techniques, while

multiple means of engagement involves taking into account different strengths

and interests of students and allowing them opportunities to use these unique

strengths in their learning (Loreman et al., 2011).

Fourteen-year-old Megan displays many of the challenges associated with

dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty characterized by difficulty with reading.

Like many students diagnosed with dyslexia, Megan displays a wide disparity

between her listening comprehension skills and her reading comprehension

skills (Chodock & Dolinger, 2008). She reads slowly and often experiences

decoding errors. Although there is little known about the causes of dyslexia, it is

thought that it is related to a difference in the way information is processed and

particularly a difficulty with the simultaneous use of learning skills involved in

reading (Reid, Strnadova & Cumming, 2013). As is characteristic for students

with dyslexia, Megan also has difficulty with writing and organization skills (Reid

et al, 2013). As students with dyslexia often have difficulty with visual scanning,

that is moving their attention quickly from what is happening at the front of the

classroom to the work that is in front of them, it is understandable that Megan

often finds it difficult to stay on track with her work (Chodock & Dolinger, 2008).

For Megan, this has manifested in some minor behavioural issues, including low

levels of disruptive behaviours in class that seem to function as a way of avoiding

work. However, Megans strengths are also typical of students with dyslexia.

Although it is not known why, students with dyslexia are often highly creative,
Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

like Megan, and will often show an affinity for visual arts, as well as more

kinesthetic styles of learning (The Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity, 2017).

In a classroom adopting a UDL framework, the curriculum and learning activities

will be designed to eliminate the learning barriers caused by Megans dyslexia,

and also allow her to use her unique strengths in her learning.

In order to increase the accessibility of the Year 8 English lesson plan on oral

storytelling an introductory activity was added. The introductory activity

involves students considering how oral storytelling is relevant to their own lives

and families. The activity was added to allow multiple means by which the

students can engage with the concept of oral storytelling. Brainstorming

activities at the beginning of lessons that activate prior knowledge for students

has been shown to have a positive impact on student learning (Meo, 2008). In

terms of multiple means of engagement, research has demonstrated that

students understanding of conceptual ideas is increased if they are given

opportunities to apply the concept to different contexts, especially contexts to

which they are personally engaged (Hall, Meyer & D, 2012). Allowing the

students to consider oral storytelling in terms of them personally would

therefore be effective. This activity would be well suited to Megans strengths as

she has strong verbal skills and is confident in participating in class discussions,

so beginning the class in this way would be effective in initially engaging her in

learning.

The next two activities in the original lesson plan were altered to provide

students with multiple means of representation. The PowerPoint presentation


Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

was retained or adjusted to include visuals that have been shown to be

particularly effective in assisting students with dyslexia, although all students

would also benefit (Reid et al. 2013). The initial lesson plan required students to

take notes during this activity, a task that would have been extremely

problematic for Megan as she struggles with visual scanning and fast writing.

Instead, students now complete a concept map as a whole class. Highlighting

main ideas through graphic organisers, like concept maps, has been shown to be

effective in the learning of students with dyslexia (Ralabate, 2011). In the

reading activity that follows, the lesson plan was also adjusted to require the

teacher to upload digital versions of the texts to the online classroom so students

could access them on their own devices. This would allow a student like Megan

to use a text-to-speech application that has been shown to assist students with

dyslexia with their comprehension (Reid et al, 2011). Students with low version,

or other additional learning needs, would also benefit, as they could change the

brightness or size of the text to suit their needs (Chodock & Dolinger, 2008). The

PowerPoint presentation and concept map from the previous activity would also

be uploaded for similar benefits for all students.

The additional of a story map to scaffold the answering of questions in the jigsaw

activity also provides students with both multiple means of representation and

expression. Research has shown that story mapping in English classrooms is a

highly effective visual strategy for enhancing comprehension for students with

reading comprehension difficulties, like Megan (Narkon & Wells, 2013). This is

because it provides a scaffold for metacognitive reading strategies, that students

with dyslexia often find it difficult to employ organically. Allowing students to


Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

either complete the map visually or in a written form may eliminate some of the

anxiety that Megan would normally experience when presented with this kind of

comprehension activity. This is because she is able to use her artistic strengths to

demonstrate her knowledge. This kind of scaffolding and choice in the means of

expression would also benefit not only Megan, but all students, in enhancing

their understanding and increasing engagement.

In order to assess students learning, the final task in the initial lesson plan has

been adjusted to allow for multiple means of expression. While the initial lesson

only allowed students to present their work in a written form, the final task now

allows students to choose in which way they demonstrate their knowledge, for

example orally or in a multi-media presentation. While some students may still

choose to write their responses, Megan is more likely to choose to present her

understanding orally or using technology in a multi-media presentation. She may

also choose to use a speech-to-text application to assist her in writing, which

would also be acceptable here. Allowing these multiple means of expression can

more accurately be used to evaluate student knowledge, without creating

learning barriers by insisting on one form of expression (Loreman et al., 2011). It

would also diminish Megans anxiety and make it less likely that she would

engage in her disruptive behaviours because she would not feel the need to

avoid work.

Creating an inclusive classroom in which all students are able to engage with

learning, regardless of difference, is a challenge for Australian teachers. This

paper has outlined how UDL can be adopted as a framework to assist teachers in
Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

designing inclusive learning environments and activities. The paper has

demonstrated how a Year 8 English lesson can be adjusted to better adopt the

principles of UDL in order to assist Megan, as a student with dyslexia, as well as

all students.
Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

Year 8 English Lesson


Oral Storytelling Traditions

Time Teaching and learning actions Resources

UDL adjustment: An introductory brainstorming activity is added to the


5 mins beginning of the lesson. Teachers ask students to think of any stories their
parents or families like to tell about them growing up. Students share these
stories with the class. Teacher asks the following question;
Why are these stories important to your family?
After the discussion, teacher introduces the idea of oral storytelling.

Teacher present a PowerPoint presentation introducing the idea of oral Student workbooks
10 mins storytelling and its importance both in the past and present and PowerPoint presentation
students take notes in their books.
10 mins UDL adjustment: Ensure that the PowerPoint is uploaded to the English Concept map
online classroom so students can access it on their own devices to follow Smartboard
along. Instead of having students take notes in their books, construct a Student devices required
concept map on the Smartboard as a whole class regarding the importance for the rest of the lesson
of oral storytelling. Upload the concept map to the online classroom so all
students can access it.

As a class, read an extract from the epic poem such The Illiad, the Extracts from the three
10 mins bush ballad, The Man from Snowy River, and the Aboriginal texts
Dreaming story of creation. Students could take turns reading aloud or
10 mins the teacher could read the texts aloud to the students. Extracts uploaded to
UDL adjustment: Upload the three texts extracts to the online classroom in online classroom
an electronic PDF format. If students do not want to read aloud allow that
to use speech-to-text application to read the texts.

Jigsaw Activity

Students form groups, and are assigned one of the three texts. In the Story map template
groups students reflect on the following questions; uploaded and in hard copy
15 mins What is the story about?
How does the writer/storyteller engage the reader/listener?
Why have these stories endured through time?
UDL adjustment: Upload a story map template to the online classroom.
Also, have printed paper copies for students if they prefer. Have students
fill in the story map about their text, either in a written or visual form,
depending on their preference.

Students report their findings back to the class.

Students make a summary of one story they most enjoyed and explain
10 mins how the elements of engaging storytelling are apparent in the story.
Students compose a short piece of writing to present their ideas.
5 mins UDL adjustment: Students are given a choice of how they will present their
ideas in this final piece of informal assessment. They may write a short
paragraph, make a multi-modal or PowerPoint presentation, or present
their ideas orally to the teacher. This is to be completed as homework and
handed in in the next lesson.

(Lesson Plan adapted from:


http://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/english/english-k10/programming/)
Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

References

Board of Studies Teaching & Educational Standards NSW. Programming.

Retrieved from: http://syllabus.bostes.nsw.edu.au/english/english-

k10/programming/

Chodock, T. & Dolinger, E. (2009). Applying Universal Design to information

literacy: Teaching students who learn differently at Landmark College.

Reference & User Services Quarterly 49(1), 24-32. Retrieved from

https://journals.ala.org/index.php/rusq

Hall, T., Meyer, A.R., & H.D (2012). Transforming writing instruction with

universal design for learning. Universal design for learning in the

classroom. (38-55). London: Guilford Publications.

Loreman, T., Deppeler, J. & Harvey, D. (2011). Inclusive education: Supporting

diversity in the classroom. Sydney: Allen & Urwin.

Meo, G. (2008). Curriculum planning for all learners: Applying Universal Design

for Learning (UDL) to a high school reading comprehension program.

Preventing School Failure 52(2), 21-30. Doi:10.3200/PSFL.52.2.21-30

Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs

(2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.

Retrieved from

http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/National_Declaration_

on_the_Educational_Goals_for_Young_Australians.pdf

Narkon, D.E. & Wells, J.C. (2013). Improving reading comprehension for

elementary students with learning disabilities: UDL enhanced story


Monica Sharpe 18795006 Case Study

mapping. Preventing School Failure 57(4), 231-239. Doi:

10.1080/1045988X.2012.726286.

Ralabate, P.K. (2011). Universal Design for Learning: Meeting the needs of all

students. ASHA Leader (16)10, 14-17. Retrieved from https://search-

proquest-

com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/docview/893925534?accountid=36155

Reid, G., Strnadova, I. & Cumming, T. (2013). Expanding horizons for students

with dyslexia in the 21st century: universal design and mobile technology.

Journal of Research in Special Education Needs 13(3), 175-181.

Doi:10.1111/1471-3892.12013

The Yale Centre for Dyslexia and Creativity. (2017) I have dyslexia, what does it

mean? Retrieved from http://dyslexia.yale.edu/whatisdyslexia.html