You are on page 1of 11

Inclusive Education Assignment 2

Mitchell Cavens

John Smith is a year 12 Music student who is seventeen years old. He has been diagnosed

with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). AS is a cognitive disability widely recognised under the

branch of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) but is unique to Autism in the way that it might

be seen in learners by their unusual posture, eye contact irregularities and unusual facial

expressions (Konza, 2005). AS may also affect a learners’ social capability. Often, learners

with AS have difficulty in understanding the body language of others and personal space,

which can present significant social challenges for secondary learners with AS (Konza,

2005).. John Smith often struggled to interpret verbal input from myself and other students,

and often interpreted questions and statements very literally and specifically; actions which

are typical of learners with AS (Church, Alisanski & Amanullah, 2000). However, students

with AS often exhibit specific strengths, such as average to superior vocabulary skill as well

as the possession of average to above average intelligence (Attwood, 2003). Also, students

with AS often have no difficulty in understanding and completing basic tasks (Attwood,

2003; Myles et. al., 2004).

It is important that teachers consider these aspects of the strengths and challenges of students

with AS in their lesson planning so that they may effectively involve and include their

student in a way that he/she might become a valuable member of the classroom. John exhibits

many of these strengths in the classroom. He was able to aurally analyse music and

determine what instruments were playing and when, generally in a superior manner than all

of his classmates. However, consistent with the common factors of AS, John was also met
with challenges. Often, he would take more time to answer a direct question, as in the subject

of music, often answers are quite subjective, so John would take more time to process the

question and answer it concretely/literally. John also did not often provide the teacher with

eye-contact, even when asked a direct question. John was still engaged with the question, but

he did not adhere to basic social expectations, which negatively influenced the way in which

he operated in group work. It was also clear that John could not understand sarcasm, aligning

with the symptoms of AS, which influenced the way in which he socially interacted with the

class and the teacher.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a scientifically informed framework for educational

practice which aims to provide quality education for all students regardless of ability or

disability (National Centre on Universal Design for Learning, 2014). It aims to provide

flexibility in the way in which content is presented, expressed and received. In the pursuit of

quality education for all students, UDL also aims to remove instructional barriers and provide

appropriate support and accommodations, whilst maintaining high expectations for students

(National Centre on Universal Design for Learning, 2014). This framework has been seen to

positively affect learners with a disability (Johnson-Harris & Mundschenk, 2014), as well as

leaners without a cognitive or behavioural disability (Vitelli, 2015). This framework requires

the teacher to provide the flexibility for quality learning to be assured, rather than the belief

that the student must adapt to the way in which a particular teacher presents content

(Kortering, McClannon & Braziel, 2008). There are three underlying principles within the

make-up of the UDL framework; the first is the provision of multiple means of

representation; the second is the provision of multiple means of action and expression, and

the third is the provision of multiple means of expression. These three principles aim to
address the ‘what’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of learning (National Centre on Universal Design for

Learning, 2014).

The first principle of UDL; the provision of multiple means of representation refers to ways

in which content is delivered from the teacher. This first principle recognises that students

with differing disabilities, social contexts, cultural backgrounds and language backgrounds

all primarily learn through different means of representation. For example, a child with

dyslexia might learn best through kinetic means, whereas a child with autism may learn best

through audible representation (National Centre on Universal Design for Learning, 2014). In

a classroom where all students come from different learning environments, a teacher who

delivers his/her content through only one means of representation is automatically hindering

some students from learning in the best way that they can. Therefore, this principle of UDL

aims to include all students in the learning process in the way in which is most beneficial for

all students in understanding the classroom content, through teaching content through

multiple means of representation (National Centre on Universal Design for Learning, 2014;

Rao & Torres, 2016). Furthermore, teachers that deliver their content through multiple means

of representation allows for the opportunity for each student to build on their knowledge of

the content through the use of their own learning methods which they have gained from their

contextual backgrounds (Johnson-Harris & Mundschenk, 2014).

Consistent with the symptoms of AS, John Smith can often struggle to understand content

delivery where there is a heavy focus on a new topic, as the teacher will tend to explain the

content using only their verbal description (Konza, 2005). John responds far better to learning

from an aural and visual source, where the new information can be processed without the

barriers surrounding how AS affects his interpretation of the body language involved in
verbal communication (Church, Alisanski & Amanullah, 2000). Due to this, the lesson plan

included below demonstrates changes made to how the teacher presents the information

about the musical topic of ‘texture’. A change is made to the review section of the lesson

plan, where the students will be given a visual aid to help them be reminded of what they

previously learnt, and further in the lesson, aural examples will be played as well as verbal

explanation to help all students understand the difference between thick and thin texture.

Also, an activity is included where the student must perform an instrument to demonstrate

textural density. In this way, the lesson content is demonstrated not only aurally but through

the students’ kinetic experience of the activity. Through multiple means of representation

(Verbally, aurally, kinetically and visually), this lesson plan ensures the inclusion of John and

all students, as each student is given the opportunity to learn the content in a way which is

familiar to them in regard to their social context or cognitive condition (Johnson-Harris &

Mundschenk, 2014).

The second principle of UDL; the provision of multiple means of action and expression refers

to the way in which a student might demonstrate that he/she understands the content

(National Centre on Universal Design for Learning, 2014). For example, a student with

cerebral palsy will differ in the way in which they may express that they understand the

content in comparison to a student with autism or different language barriers. A teacher that

restricts the students to providing the means of expression of understanding the content in

only one way (E.g. question and answer – verbal expression) is inherently placing students

who are challenged in expression in that area at a disadvantage. Therefore, this UDL

principle aims to direct teachers to allow for students to demonstrate their understanding of

the content through multiple means of action and expression (National Centre on Universal

Design for Learning, 2014). This allows for students with different cognitive learning
disabilities, and students who come from different social and cultural contexts to be able to

express the way in which they understand the content in a way that they are already familiar

with and practiced in. Multiple means of expression also minimises the stress on executive

functioning, allowing for a learning environment in which students who are challenged in

that area may better express their understanding (Rao & Torres, 2016).

Due to cognitive challenges that arise from AS, John struggles to demonstrate his

understanding of the content through verbal means. It often takes John more time to answer a

direct question than other students, but this is not representative of his understanding of the

topic, as he often demonstrates that his understanding of the content is superior to his

classmates through practical assessment tasks, which is not uncommon for students with AS

(Attwood, 2003). In order to better include John and all students in the classroom learning

environment, changes to the lesson plan have been included which aim to provide students

with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the content through a variety of

means. The main change in regard to expression was made to the body of the lesson plan

which is designed to allow the students the opportunity to express their knowledge of the

content through their choice of either verbal means, or visual/physical means. The students

are given the opportunity to answer an HSC style question on aural analysis of texture using

either words or drawing diagrams (a format which is allowable in the HSC). Students are also

able to integrate ICT into the task which will be suitable for some students. This

change/addition will enhance the learning environment, as all students are encouraged to

express their understanding of the content through a means which is familiar to them.

The third principle of UDL, the provision of multiple means of engagement refers to the way

in which a student is best engaged in the classroom environment (National Centre on


Universal Design for Learning, 2014). Dependant on the students’ social context, cultural

context, cognitive strengths/challenges, neurology and background knowledge is a student’s

ability or willingness to engage with the classroom content. A teacher who actively commits

to a single learning strategy in the classroom will inevitably restrict other learners who may

find difficulty in operating in that specific way. For example, a student with autism would

struggle to engage with the content if the teacher often uses group work strategies in their

pedagogy, as it relies heavily on communication and social skill, which many students with

autism as well as other cognitive disabilities may lack. Therefore, by the teacher providing

the class with multiple means of engagement through a variety of pedagogical methods (E.g.

the option to work with peers/alone/in groups), they best allow for all students to engage with

the content, as well as minimise classroom disruption which may arise from disengagement,

as they may learn in a way that is congruent with their learning strengths (Johnson-Harris &

Mundschenk, 2014).

John struggles to engage with the class content when the teacher organises the class to

complete small or large group work. Due to AS, John has not yet developed the social

understanding needed in order to function effectively as a group, but can work efficiently in

solitude (Church, Alisanski & Amanullah, 2000). Though John does not become disruptive to

other students, he demonstrates his disengagement by drawing in his book and not paying

attention to the teacher. Other students in the class often struggle to engage in certain tasks

due to their background or condition. Therefore, in this lesson plan, changes have been added

which aim to provide all students with multiple means by which they may be engaged with

the content. A change to the introduction to the lesson allows students the choice to work in

groups, as a class, or individually to address what was learnt in the previous lesson. This is

designed to allow students of different social/cognitive backgrounds the opportunity to


engage with the class content without learning barriers which are connected to their context

or condition. A simple musical performance task has also been added with the aim to provide

another means of representation and opportunity of expression, but also to provide the

students with another potential way of engaging with the topic of musical texture. Providing

these opportunities for engagement should result in a more constructive learning

environment, with students less likely to become disengaged.

Original Lesson Plan

Lesson Timing Teaching Strategies

15 minutes - Directs the class on a quick pitch revision

- Directs the class on structure revision (aural example: Under

Control, Calvin Harris up to 1’04”).

5 minutes - Explains texture with reference to pre-prepared PowerPoint

slide, focusing on density, layers, and type.

35 minutes - Directs students to aurally analyse (in respect to texture)

o Good times (Chic, up to 1:13)

o September (Earth, wind and fire, up to 1:17)

o Shoot to thrill (AC/DC, up to 1:10)

o Moth into the flame (Metallica, 0’17” to 1’34”)

- Teacher may choose more songs if necessary.

5 minutes - Directs class to pack away.


UDL altered lesson plan

Key:

Changes made to demonstrate ‘Representation’

Changes made to demonstrate ‘Expression’

Changes made to demonstrate ‘Engagement’

Lesson Timing Teaching Strategies

15 minutes - Directs the class to talk to the student next to them or group

around them to discuss what was learnt in the last lesson in

regard to pitch, so that they may report their learnings to the

teacher (The students may individually remind themselves of

what they learnt).

- To help the students remember what they learnt previously,

keep the previous ‘pitch’ PowerPoint slide on the smartboard.

- Directs the class on structure revision (aural example: Under

Control, Calvin Harris up to 1’04”).

15 minutes - Quickly explains texture with reference to pre-prepared

PowerPoint slide, focusing on density, layers, and type.

- Provide different aural examples to display the difference

between thick and thin texture.

- Provide each student with a percussion instrument.


- Direct one student to perform their instrument, and then

consistently add students to the ‘performance’, demonstrating

the increase in textural density

25 minutes - Direct students to the whiteboard and smartboard, show

diagrams of possible ways in which you might visually

represent textural density changes (Line diagram: may be

handwritten or through computer applications).

- From this directs students to aurally analyse these songs using

any shown method (in respect to texture)

o Good times (Chic, up to 1:13)

o September (Earth, wind and fire, up to 1:17)

o Shoot to thrill (AC/DC, up to 1:10)

o Moth into the flame (Metallica, 0’17” to 1’34”)

- Teacher may choose more songs if necessary.

5 minutes - Directs class to pack away.

References

Asperger, H. (1991). Autistic psychopathy in childhood. In U. Frith (Ed.), Autism and

Asperger Syndrome (pp. 37-92). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press

Attwood, T. (2003). Navigating social and emotional pathways of autism. Sydney: Southern

Sydney Therapy Centre.


Church, C., Alisanski, S., & Amanullah, S. (2000). The social, behavioural, and academic

experiences of children with Asperger Syndrome. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental

Disabilities, 15, 12-20.

National Centre on Universal Design for Learning. (2014). Three principles of UDL.

Retrieved from http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl/3principles

Johnson-Harris, K. M. & Mundschenk, N. A. (2014). Working effectively with students with

BD in a general education classroom: The case for Universal Design for Learning. Issues and

Ideas, 87(4), 168-174. doi: 10.1080/00098655.2014.897927

Konza, D. M. (2005). Secondary school success for students with Asperger's Syndrome.

Australasian Journal of Special Education, 29 (2), 128-139. Copyright the Australian

Association of Special Education.

Kortering, L. J., McClannon, T. W. & Braziel, P. M. (2008). Universal Design for Learning:

A look at what algebra and biology students with and without high incidence conditions are

saying. Remedial and Special Education, 29(6), 352- 363. doi: 10.1177/0741932507314020

Myles, B. S., Troutman, M. L., & Schelven, R. L. (2004). The hidden curriculum. Shawnee

Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.

Rao, K. & Torres, C. (2016). Supporting academic and affective learning processes for

English language learners with Universal Design for Learning. Tesol Quarterly, 0(0), 1-13.

doi: 10.1002/tesq.342
Vitelli, E. M. (2015). Universal Design for Learning: Are we teaching it to preservice general

education teachers? Journal of Special Education Technology, 30(3), 166-178. doi:

10.1177/0162643415618931