Monday, September 12, 2016

Universal Design

Keeping in mind the tenets of Universal Design, the 2 strategies listed below would benefit a lot of different students, but I'm sharing them as examples that could be used in an online classroom with a particular student. Perhaps you've had a student with similar challenges. This is a student who I taught recently; ultimately, he did not receive his credit for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the reasons why he requires extra supports:

- He’s often absent or late to class (2 days a week on average), due to a variety of reasons, including “needing to get more sleep” and trying to avoid the classroom (most of his friends are in higher grades - he is a Gr. 11 student in a Gr. 10 classroom)

- He does not use class time well to complete assignments

- He spends a lot of class time on his phone

- Because of the age difference, he’s a bit out of place in a Gr. 10 classroom

- He procrastinates, but submits some assignments, when working independently

- He does not work well in a group/team setting; he distracts others

Part of why working with this student was so frustrating was because he was bright and could be a good independent worker when he put his mind to it. What he struggled with (besides what’s listed above) was getting started with certain assignments. Once he had specific direction, he could complete tasks. As such, here are a few strategies that I think could work for him, if he were to take an online course:

Strategy #1
Provide story starters – for example, if the task is to write a short story, I’d give him 3-4 opening paragraphs to choose from that he could use verbatim, and then he could finish the story from there. Or perhaps I could give him 3-4 character profiles, upon which he could base his story. With this specific direction, I believe he could complete the task.

Strategy #2
Allow him to write about his interests (student choice) – He loved dirtbiking, or racing of any kind, really. A few of the assignments that he did complete were racing-related, like when I asked the students to share a funny story from their past. When I was able to engage him about the things in which he was interested, he had more success, so assignments in his online class that are more flexible or have an element of student choice would be recommended.


  1. Hi Andrew,
    I know "this" student far too well. You provide great strategies to support these types of struggling learners.
    Would these be options for everyone? It might be beneficial for everyone to have that extra push if they need it and choose to, and this student might feel singled out, unless it is a direct modification of the curriculum based on the IEP.

    1. Absolutely. These options would be available to the whole class.