Our first story comes from Elison Baird, 10 grade World Literature Teacher at Sanger High School. Elison and the rest for her World Literature crew were in our first year of UDL pilot teams. This team specializes in making challenging content clear, exciting and accessible for their students by giving options for how students can take in a story and being explicit with all the relevant themes students love that show up in historical literature. Here is her story!
"How can I make an ancient Greek text interesting to sophomores?"
Answer: UDL Engagement Guideline 7.1 Optimize individual choice and autonomy. There are three ways I use choice and autonomy to recruit student interest in a seemingly irrelevant text. First, I examine the standards and goals that are most important in relation to the text, in this case, Euripides’ Medea, written in 431 B.C. Once, I’ve selected the most salient goals, I create contexts and experiences for students to discover their learning. Typically, I create stations where students can choose how they will interact with the content.
Next, I challenge students by asking them to demonstrate their developing understanding of the content in an authentic and relevant way. Here, I invite students to make connections to their own experiences, other texts, and the world around them. We use essential questions to ensure our learning is rooted back into the core text. This is a great place for me to catch students who may start to lose interest by providing new access points; I may bring in videos, pop culture references, or modern examples.
Finally, I translate my goals/standards into a comprehensive rubric that outlines my high expectations and leaves room for student creativity. Students use the rubric to demonstrate their mastery of the content. Although students have the choice to demonstrate their learning in a way that sustains their interest, the rubric holds them accountable to the goals and standards I initially outlined. Here, students let their creativity and autonomy thrive; I don’t have to hear, “This is boring,” or “Why am I doing this?” at every turn. Students produce higher quality work and the goals and expectations have not been compromised. Before I know it, students and I have worked together to make an ancient text meaningful and relevant.
Sanger unified school district
Curriculum & Instruction department