A bowl of gumbo.

Chef Tara Mason: Gumbo and UDL & AT as an Approach to Assessing Learning Needs

Author: Jenee Vickersinfo@ciddl.org

Tara Mason is an assistant professor of inclusive education at Western Colorado University. She uses a strengths-based student learning framework to investigate Universal Design for Learning (UDL), technology, and accessibility. She kicked off CIDDL Cizzles Season 3 with her family gumbo recipe! She discussed proactive teaching, UDL, and progress monitoring in this week’s Cizzle.

The Usual Ingredients = Good Teaching

Preparation is key for effective instruction. Having a base recipe of usual “ingredients” is necessary when planning to meet the needs of diverse learners. These usual instructional ingredients create the foundation of a good lesson before teachers need to individualize and accommodate specific students. Using the UDL framework, effective instruction means planning to have the necessary instructional materials. Teachers must use proactive strategies to plan for learner engagement and emotional connection in their lessons. 

Progress Monitoring to Optimize Instruction

Although the usual ingredients of good teaching optimize instruction, careful progress monitoring is essential. This means considering learner variability and attending to each individual’s progress in lessons.  Importantly, teachers can rely on their usual instructional ingredients, but they should be willing and able to innovate to meet learner needs. Progress monitoring and support remain important when students make the often-quick transition from guided to independent practice. Dr. Mason suggested planning ahead for independent practice. For example, teachers might prepare a checklist for students to refer to during independent practice. Adult learning strategies, like turn-and-talks, “parking lots” for questions, and self-monitoring methods can facilitate student learning and make independent practice more feasible for teachers supporting large, heterogeneous groups of learners.  

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Watch Tara’s full CIDDL Cizzles and learn more about proactive teaching, UDL, and progress monitoring. Go to the CIDDL Events webpage to learn about other chefs and their technology and pick up a few new recipes. Check out the CIDDL website for more resources related to the innovative uses of technology in special education and related services personnel preparation programs.