A student holds his head in his hands while listening to class on his laptop.

Lesson Planning in an Introduction to Special Education Classroom

Author: Samantha Goldman; info@ciddl.org

This semester, I have taken to redesigning the Introduction to Special Education class. As a first-time instructor, this was a lofty goal. But, with support and encouragement from other faculty, we have adapted the course to further align with the principles of UDL. In previous blog posts, you can read more about how we have done this. 

The Lesson Plan Assignment

One of the required assignments in the course is to create a lesson plan that applies the principles of Universal Design for Learning. One challenge in past semesters is that students come in with different knowledge of lesson planning, including the overall structure and content knowledge. This activity aimed for our students to show they can apply the framework in designing a lesson. So, how can I support them with this goal and remove the barriers of the traditional lesson plan?

Ludia

In a post-ChatGPT era, turning to an AI to support the UDL lesson planning was the obvious thing to do. Ludia is “your AI-powered UDL partner.” Users provide Ludia with information about a lesson, classroom, goals, objectives, etc., and the AI suggests aligning it with the UDL guidelines. 

Once you ask a question, the AI prompts questions such as “Tell me more” or “Can you provide more examples of UDL strategies?”. Teachers and pre-service educators can further personalize the suggestions by sharing information about student areas of strength and need. 

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For our lesson plan, students were given a case study student to use for their imaginary classroom. They picked their lesson topic, grade level, and objective. Once they had learned about their student and identified the information about their lesson, they wrote an anticipatory set. 

For example: “We will be reading the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.  During this novel study, we will talk about a few literary devices.  Literary devices are the structures (like architecture) writers use to get their ideas across to readers.  There are many literary devices, and authors don’t use all of them in every novel.  We are just going to learn about a few today that will help us understand To Kill a Mockingbird a little better.  When you know what these literary devices are, you can start looking for examples of them as you are reading.”

Next, they plugged all of the above information (objective, grade level, topic, information about their student, and the anticipatory set) into Ludia. Their goal was to identify strategies to support all students (specifically their case study student, but we talked about identifying strategies to help all learners) in achieving the learning objective. To do this, we discussed how to prompt Ludia to provide suggestions aligning with their lesson goal, students’ needs, and the UDL Framework. They were given a spreadsheet to fill in with the information they received from Ludia. 

Once they developed the spreadsheet, they returned to Ludia and asked for a cohesive lesson plan. Again, we discussed the importance of using good prompts and the need to ask questions multiple times in multiple ways. Simply asking Ludia to write a lesson plan works but does not provide the necessary level of detail and description of activities. We discussed how they could write stronger prompts, which I modeled, and how they could use ideas from their worksheet, resources shared in our class and others, and ideas they had to create a cohesive, complete lesson plan that addressed the needs of all learners and aligned to the framework. We also discussed that they didn’t have to use all of Ludia’s suggestions. Some did not align to their learning goal, while others didn’t align to their grade level. 

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The Benefits of Using the AI

Since the start of the semester, I have shared with my students that AI is a tool that will benefit both them and their students. AI cannot do the work for them, but it should not be ignored as a support. With that said, it is my job to model for them how to use tools, like AI, responsibly and in a manner that will support them in their future classroom jobs. 

Join the Conversation

While several AIs support lesson planning, I chose Ludia for its alignment with UDL. What other AIs have you used to support lesson planning? How have you had the conversation about AI with your pre-service teachers? Share with us in the CIDDL community!