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Movie outing leads to deeper understanding of UDL

2016 August 29
by HISD Communications

School viewing of autism documentary helps staff understand needs of all students

A recent trip to the movie theater has the staff at Patterson Elementary thinking differently about how to serve all their students, particularly those with special needs.  During in-service week, Patterson Principal Juan Gonzalez took his entire faculty to see the documentary LIFE, ANIMATED. Based on the bestselling book, the film explores the life of a young man with autism and how he was able to make sense of the world through Disney characters.   

“The documentary was recommend to me by the district’s Office of Special Education while I was at a conference on Universal Design for Learning,” Gonzalez said. “After hearing more about it, I thought it could be a great vehicle for me and my staff to gain a deeper awareness and understanding of UDL as it relates to instructional practice for students with special needs.”

Teachers at Patterson enjoyed the unique professional development opportunity, and the free popcorn, but more importantly walked away with a deeper understanding of how to better serve special needs students by building upon their strengths and interests.

Kindergarten teacher Irene Zamora called the movie screening “her best professional development ever,” and thanked Gonzalez in an email that said, “It was absolutely wonderful. Thanks for giving me the chance to watch such a beautiful, inspiring, and touching movie.”

The documentary comes highly recommended by other HISD educators who’ve seen it, including a group of teachers and leadership staff from Chavez High School. The Office of Special Education is currently exploring ways to hold a districtwide screening of the film. Stay tuned for details.


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