Return to Headlines

Designing Learning for All Students

Disney Elementary 5th-grade students and teachers are taking learning to the next level.

Principal Aaron Sutherland explained recently to the Board of Education that the 5th-grade team is leveraging a universal design for learning where all students can feel safe to make, learn and reflect. He said they’re doing this through three ways:

• Creating a ready-to-learn environment in the classroom

• Extending rigor and high-level thinking (adding reflection corner to eureka dialogue session of core lesson)

• Design to the edges.

Teachers introduced highs and lows time, where students share a high point from the last day and a low point. It can be about anything in their lives.

“You’re setting the tone for learning in your classroom. You’re creating a relaxed state,” Mr. Sutherland said. "If the students have something on their mind, you want them to get that out so they can focus on the lesson.”

During math time, teachers are taking the Eureka Math discussion to the next level with a literal reflection corner in the classroom. In this corner, students discuss the day’s key concept and share their thinking with the class.

Students also add to the ongoing math dialogue with table discussions, partner talk and, via their iPads, in the Padlet app, which allows students to submit anonymous comments, which are projected on the Smart Panel to the class.

“The students are excited about our Math Reflection Corner and daily discussions,” said Mrs. Nina Gumm, one of the 5th-grade teachers. “This has become a process that students look forward to at the end of each math lesson!”

The anonymous aspect of Padlet allows even introverted students to participate in the discussion.

“It’s a way to allow kids to safely discuss learning and cement those concepts,” Mr. Sutherland said.

Disney teachers are also designing to the edges, which means they are reaching every student at their level. This year they’re leveraging Newsela, which delivers the same content to students that is customized to their reading and learning level. Students take quizzes, which helps the platform gauge their understanding and deliver appropriate content in the future. Teachers can also make adjustments for individual students to increase the rigor.