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2012-2013 Lisa Haig: Universal Learning Environment for All: Studio Approach

Research Question: Does the studio approach allow for a universal learning environment to happen in math and science?

A Universal Learning Environment for All: Studio Approach

What we propose is not an approach that sees all tools to be available to all at all times. Rather we propose that a truly universal environment has, coupled with a variety of targeted instructional strategies, a purposeful variety of technologies. The necessary tools for all learners at crucial times are what is needed. That is a universal learning environment. A variety of technologies (Macbooks, Ipads, Ipods, speech and text recognition software, speech and visual recording software and hardware) is the key to providing an environment where not only those with specialized needs can thrive as the playing field is leveled for varying abilities, but all learners will benefit from this approach.

Please consider the following scenarios:

Student A: Struggles with regular modes of instructions (i.e. verbal or written). The studio approach allows him/her to access instruction when he/she needs it at the pace that he/she needs it at. Students have the ability to go back to previous lessons to close missing gaps, because of the consistent ability to access technology that will make this possible. Recording of lessons will take place and those lessons will be “parked” on the teacher website so that access for students is as ubiquitous as possible.

Student B: Is able to access the lesson for repeated and slowed down instruction when needed. Again, the recording and storing of lessons will support student learning for those students who need continuous access to instruction.
Student C: Is able to access a larger circle of resources that allow further in depth and/or accelerated learning.

“Technology is more pervasive today than it ever has been. A whole array of tools, techniques and processes is enhancing and altering human activity. Technologies are enabling us to live, work and think in ways that most of us never dreamed possible. - AB Education, ICT Program of Studies, Galileo Educational Network.

The approach that we are proposing is creating a flexible universal learning environment for a diverse student body. Instilling flexibility for students allows all students to be successful regardless of learning disabilities or not. (Teaching every student in the Digital Age, 2009) Student use of this technology will become the norm, not the “wheeled - in, limited access” that current mobile labs provide. Further, the technology will allow the opportunity to assess students in a variety of ways regardless of abilities. Formative assessment will be available for many of the students who are to some degree self-directed. Other sites (Khan academy for example) can serve as a first stop (pre-learning activities) for students to explore new concepts before seeking detailed and specific instruction from the classroom teacher.

The characteristics of the 21st century learner that are enhanced with this approach are:
Self-directed learner - Student profile C is able to work beyond the traditional work that is given to him/her. They take responsibility for their own learning, which allows them to achieve higher state of engagement. (RVS)
Problem solver - Regardless of the students that were described above students are able to understand what they need in order to be successful in the classroom.
Critical thinker - Student profile A, B, or C can utilize their critical thinking skills to explain learning outcomes in Science for labs and projects. As well during math when students are problem solving and doing their work.
Collaborator - Students will work in groups and decide the technology that is appropriate for the task that is given to them and work from there. This allows students of all abilities to work together and learn from each other.
Innovator - Students will be able to create learning products that allow for maximum creativity and innovation, both in thought and product.

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Ecole Manachaban Middle School – Innovative Technologies Grant Proposal

In conjunction with Rocky View’s Professional Learning Model, the studio approach as described above meets the requirements of RVS’ Professional Learning Model on a number of bases. Knowledge, Skills and Attributes generated will be shared and accessible to any teacher in our school (and our system) as this is a truly job embedded learning environment. I will collaborate with other staff members who expressed interest (currently Grade 8 and 6 teachers). The professional learning plan states that, professional learning is personalized, generative and focused on the actualization of exemplary practice in the learning environment. This is what I will be doing in my classroom.

Our SEP states that we need to further focus on the development of instructional strategies. In detail we need to focus on continued development of the inquiry and project-based approach to instruction. The connection created here between the SEP and this project is evident. The integration of technology allows pathways to be broadened and instruction becomes much more centred on the student and the 21st century skills to be developed and away from the delivery of measured and time bound

learning. Students will have multiple access points to their learning.

Students will use the technology of choice to be able to better explain labs in science. For example, those students that may struggle with writing could record themselves explaining what they did during the lab for their lab report. This would benefit the students and wouldn’t put them at a disadvantage because they may struggle with writing. Another example would be for math. I would record myself during the lesson and then post it on my Plone site so students were able to access it during class and at home. We can also have a recorded version of their quizzes and tests that they can access during class. This would assist students who may struggle with reading comprehension. I would utilize the speech and visual recording software for students.

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