Finally, once students have the background knowledge they need, give them a chance to think about it before diving into reading or discussion. Check out this Pre-Discussion Activity document.
You should feel proud when you’ve found dependable sources and summed up the necessary background information for a discussion. You’ve gone the extra mile to support your students and give them the tools to succeed. But just having a good reading and a little context isn’t enough for every student. What if the reading is too complicated for some of your class? What if you have students who understand the material but don’t know how to explain their thoughts? What happens when students who aren’t interested want to tune out?
Those scenarios are going to be common and can be very stressful, but there are frameworks you can implement to address these situations. We’ll cover one in just a moment. Now, you may ask yourself, “how much work do I need to do to make this worth it?” Try not to feel overwhelmed. Remember, everything you do to support your students’ learning and growth has value, even if you don’t reach every goal you set for yourself. Then, try to challenge your thinking. Instead of thinking of your preparation as work for one activity, think of it as part of a method to improve the learning experience for everyone. When you find quality sources, review key background information, and help your students share what they know, you’re reshaping your classroom to benefit the entire class. You can improve your methods even further by applying the Universal Design for Learning in lessons.
The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a wonderful tool for planning instruction that supports deeper understanding and involvement in all students. UDL has three central components: Multiple means of representation, multiple means of expression, and multiple means of engagement.