Maker Experiment #2 (ME#1 Revisited UDL style)

This week in CEP811, we were asked to revisit Maker Experiment #1 looking at aspects of Universal Design for Learning that were either present in the plan or could be added to enhance the plan. I have included UDL Guideline references in green for aspects I felt already employed UDL. Likewise, I used red for additions to enhance the universality of the plan’s learning design. (Note: All UDL Guideline reference numbers are clickable links to specific guideline explanations.)

My guiding question for this activity is: how can students use technology to explore randomness vs. pattern in abstract art production? (4.2)

Activity (Grade level: 4-5)

1.) In an art class where students have been exploring the creation of abstract art and how various artists achieved their results, focus a discussion on the topic of randomness vs. pattern starting with what students think the words mean and progressing through dictionary and practical definitions of each. (2.1)

2.) Display several images of abstract art via a large format (TV, overhead, doc cam, etc.) as well as in books and on posters (1.1) Some suggestions include paintings by Jackson Pollock, Wassily Kandinsky, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian and Robert Delaunay as well as Native American and Tibetan Sand Painting. Have the students identify randomness and pattern in them. Elicit from students suggestions of art they may know with either pattern or randomness, have them search for images on the internet and display same. (3.1)

3.) Lead a discussion about techniques that were (or could have been) used to achieve the randomness or the pattern. (3.2)

4.) Play the first 3:55 from the YouTube video “Robot Art: Harvey Moon’s Drawing Machines.” Activate closed captioning while playing. Offer SAP for ESL students. (1.2, 2.4)

5.) Have students identify and discuss Harvey Moon’s techniques for creating randomness and pattern as seen in the video.

6.) Introduce the littleBits to the class. Allow approximately 15 minutes for pure introductory experimentation.

7.) Challenge the students to combine the littleBits with available artists’ supplies (pencils, pens, markers, crayons, pastels, charcoal, paints, ink, styrofoam, sponges, toothbrushes, paintbrushes and various other objects that might be used as brushes) to create an “artbot” capable of creating either randomness or pattern on their canvases. An extra challenge is to build an “artbot” that can do both. (8.2)

8.) Bring the class back together to share their creations with one another and discuss the challenges (and their solutions) of working with the littleBits as well as working with the artists’ tools to create both randomness and pattern. (6.2, 6.4, 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4) Contrast the difficulty of creating randomness vs difficulty of creating pattern; compare with the time and effort Harvey Moon puts in. (6.1)

9.) Offer an opportunity for students to display their work in a public space. (7.1, 7.2)

By viewing my lesson plan through UDL glasses as it were, I was able to recognize several places where my plan already anticipated a universal design. For example, Step 8 allows students to show and explain their work (6.2), provides formative feedback via peer discussion (6.4), and provides several options for sustaining effort (8.1-8.4). Similarly, the discussion in Step 3 is important for highlighting critical features (3.2) of pattern and randomness in the identification of how each comes about. But the UDL feature I like most about this lesson is the entire lesson itself. By creating artbots, students who might otherwise perceive themselves as “bad at art” because they may not have the dexterity to draw or paint like some others, may come to recognize that they are artists, that they are creators. It is as though the entire lesson is a kind of assistive technology for these students. (4.2) And I would hope it might inspire them to continue to create.

I did add quite a few features to enhance the UDL of this lesson as well, though space constraints prevent me from detailing them all. But I would have to say my favorite is Step 9. By adding an option for public display of their creations, student choice and autonomy are enhanced (7.1) and the lesson takes on an added relevance in the real world. (7.2) By making the product of this lesson authentic, the lesson becomes better for everyone. And I believe that is the goal of Universal Design for Learning.


Burgam, K. J. (2013). Maker experiment #1. Retrieved October 18, 2013, from

UDL guidelines examples. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2013, from

Wakefield, M. A. (2011) Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Retrieved October 15, 2013, from


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