Universal Design for Learning, Part Three
This month we conclude our series on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Originating in the world of architecture, Universal Design has plenty to tell us when it comes to optimizing learning in our classrooms by including ALL of our learners. While this series is mainly geared toward catechism instruction, UDL has applications in classrooms with adult learners as well. The author of the series is Paul Waldschmidt.

Professor Paul Waldschmidt, a 1999 graduate of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, teaches Education and Old Testament at the seminary. He previously served congregations in Normal, Illinois, and Hartford, Wisconsin. He also serves as the current editor of the Teach the Word newsletter.

They never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:42
Adult Education: Additum
More Resources

This month marks the end of our extended look at Universal Design for Learning. If your interest has been piqued and you’d like to learn more, UDL was the theme for the 2021 Kettle Moraine Lutheran Educators Conference. You can access a number of resources from that conference here. Also available are videos of Dr. Kari Muente’s keynote address and workshop from the conference. Those videos can be accessed here. Many thanks to KML for making those resources available.
Teaching Toolbox
Choice Boards

One way to provide UDL’s “flexible means” and to encourage active learning is to design a tic-tac-toe choice board for your lesson. An example is included here. This was used for in-person teaching of the Fourth Commandment in middle school catechism, but it could work well for online learning as well.

Here are a few items to note:

  1. Every student is required to complete the center square. This is the direct teaching portion of the class period. It includes the lesson goals, pertinent Bible verses with explanations, and the introduction of any unique terms the students need to know. In requiring them to watch the video first, the groundwork is laid for the other activities.
  2. It will probably take some experimentation with clock watching to see if this is a one-class or two-class project for your students.
  3. No one says you have to have nine boxes’ worth of activities! The point is not to hit a number but to provide choice and flexible means to reach your learning goals.
  4. This example is tech-oriented, but your choice boards don’t have to be. Don’t be afraid to include “old school” paper and colored pencil projects too. One advantage of using tech, if you’re able, is the ease of organization and feedback that tech affords.
  5. A choice board like this provides formative assessment. After the projects are done and turned in, both teacher and student have an idea where the student is with regard to the learning goals. Pay attention to just enough that you can accurately determine the student’s status. You sure don’t have to go through every single project, grade, and offer individual feedback on each one.

Here’s a link to educator Katie Bell’s Shake Up Learning website that contains more information and templates for your choice board.
For further thought…would a choice board be a valuable tool for adult Bible study? Why or why not? What kinds of activities would a choice board for adult learners contain?
Curriculum Connection

The lead article discusses learner variability and flexible teaching methods. Put those tips into practice with the Grand Themes and Key Words Bible study! This 19-minute Bible study explores important words and imagery from the Old and New Testaments. Participants will learn how the Bible uses themes and symbols to point to Christ as our Savior. This Bible study provides plenty of opportunities to use visual aids, simple summaries, and longer discussions to meet the needs of your learners.

See a sample of Grand Themes and Key Words

Learn more and order Grand Themes and Key Words CD kit or download
Teaching Tip
Why Make Them Guess?

If information is important, provide it for your learners. Why make them guess? Instead, ask them open questions about the information you give them so they can make personal meaning of it. Why spend valuable time undoing guesses when learners could be doing something more meaningful?
-Dr. Joye Norris
from her book "Telling to Teaching: A Dialogue Approach to Adult Learning"
 Teach the Word is a collaboration of Northwestern Publishing House,
Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, and WELS Discipleship.