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Reflections on Implementing UDL in Low and High Stakes Activities

The Spring I high-stakes activity I created grew directly out of the Fall’s low-stakes activity, which was designed as a scaffolded assignment, and foundation, to assist students with their in-class mid-term essay. While the low-stakes activity was extremely effective in allowing students to locate, interpret, and analyze relevant direct quotations and paraphrases from the course text, the high-stakes assignment proved to be more challenging and time-consuming.

The high-stakes assignment required students to continue utilizing the comparison and contrast format, within their research essay assignments, to specify the major similarities and differences between the respective legacies of female civil rights activists, Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer, and the more widely-known civil rights icons, Malcolm X and Dr. King. All of the students readily identified sexism and gender discrimination as the principal obstacle to the afore-mentioned women’s notoriety; however, only one third of the students fully addressed more complex issues, such as differing philosophies of grassroots organization and intersectional approaches to encouraging mass political mobilization among women, people of color, and the working classes.

As it currently stands the research assignment is on Ella Baker and Fannie Lou Hamer. In the near future, I plan to revise this research assignment so that it will include a preliminary low-stakes assignment on how these women’s organizing strategies included proto-intersectional objectives that foregrounded the need for unity among all people, regardless of race, sex, and class.

Revising the research assignment by including this low-stakes component will introduce students to critical race theory, as it relates to intersectionality, while also allowing them to begin their own analyses before drafting their high-stakes research essays.


Reflective Post 3/30

I plan to implement my UDL activity in my ENG101 class. Currently, my timetable is as follows:

This semester: reformulate my low-stakes activity

Fall I: reintroduce my low-stakes activity in September/October; use this assignment as a scaffold for the high-stakes assignment that, will naturally, build on it. At present, I am working on the same research question; however, this spring and summer I will do more research to asses whether or not best practices in composition pedagogy have been updated and or revised, in order to continually address UDL inclusive teaching practices.

My colleagues on the DfA team are already providing invaluable support and creative inspiration. In truth, I couldn’t ask for a more generous and dedicated group of colleagues to work with. All we need to do is continue encouraging and motivating each other. The end result will be establishing more transformative pedagogical practices at LAGCC, which will continually raise our students’ levels of academic engagement.

From Low-stakes to High-stakes: Scaffolding Assignments for a Mid-term Exam

I designed a low-stakes, in-class exercise, structured on finding appropriate direct quotations and formulating paraphrases, for my students’ ENG101 mid-term exam. Because the mid-term is a two-hour in-class essay, I thought it best to design this particular exercise, as it eliminates a few steps in the writing process and allows students to focus their full attention on drafting and revising during the actual exam.

Since my research question involves identifying best practices for composition classes, this type of scaffolded assignment provides a seamless combination of efficiency and self-directed measures that are encouraged to assist students in becoming more comfortable with the drafting, revising, and editing steps in composition best-practices pedagogy.

All of the students were able to find direct quotations and/or develop appropriate paraphrases that related to the following themes from the narrative essay, “The Back of the Bus,” by Mary Mebane and The Autobiography of Malcolm X: institutional racism, segregation, anti-black violence, dehumanization, internalized racism, white supremacy, and Black nationalism. This portion of the exercise went very well; however, the challenges that followed were related to properly citing the source and formulating proper analyses.

The pedagogical strategies/ideas that were sparked during my conversations with students were the following: 1) I need to create another low-stakes exercise on how to develop strong analyses of sources; 2) I should have students work in pairs on this analysis exercise, since some students were particularly gifted in generating strong analyses while others needed more mentoring; and 3) I learned that these types of low-stakes exercises should be done at least once a week, since ENG101 meets twice a week. Incorporating these changes would allow for continuity, reinforcement, and eventual student mastery of these necessary steps in the writing process.

For my spring activity, I will definitely implement the exercise on developing strong analyses of sources. From past experience, when I have directed students to work together on different types of peer-critique exercises, I have learned that this type of partner-based activity is one that benefits both student mentor and mentee. The added bonus of these partner-based activities is that the students actually enjoy learning from each other. This exchange really creates a welcoming and engaging culture of learning in the classroom.

Low Stakes Assignment


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