Michelina Miedema

Spring Trimester 2020 

EDU 580: Inquiry to Practice

Synthesis - Lesson Study Cycle 3


Michelina Miedema

Spring Trimester

EDU 580: Inquiry to Practice


Literature Synthesis - Lesson Study Cycle 3


During this lesson study our team’s goal was to develop a lesson that uses Universal Design For Learning (UDL) strategies to engage students and bolster intrinsic motivation in a TK/ Kindergarten classroom. UDL strategies give educators a guideline to support all types of learners (Kieran & Anderson, 2019). UDL strategies range in variety and work to support specific student needs, while simultaneously supporting the entire class.  Our hope was that if we discover and provide the necessary scaffolds and tools,  students would be able to self-guide their learning, resulting in a self-sustaining, supportive community of learners.  This took a slight shift when all schools began distance learning due to Covid-19 outbreak. Our focus moved towards supporting student independence in a homeschool/distance learning setting. Our host teacher, Sandy, taught 7 Tk students and 14 Kindergarten students in a Montessori classroom, and now teaches them online, from her home.  My research for this lesson study can be synthesized into three main areas: 1. Incorporating UDL practices into a classroom 2. Developing student intrinsic motivation 3. Discovering engagement strategies through student interest. 


1. Incorporating UDL practices into a classroom.


Our research began as we delve into the world of UDL strategies. According to Kieran & Anderson (2019), UDL has three main principles : 1. Provide multiple means of representation 2. Provide multiple means of action and expression 3. Provide multiple means of engagement (Kieran & Anderson, 2019, p. 1202). As the description shows, UDL has a strong focus on providing multiple means in all aspects of instruction. To us, this meant being able to develop practices and actions that support all types of learners. Additionally, in order for teachers to support their students, they need to be aware of their skills and background knowledge. Sandy selected three fous students and conducted empathy interviews so that she could better get to know her students, then shared the knowledge with our team. Through research, we began to funnel our thoughts and ideate as a team. Initially we began noting specific UDL strategies that could support student’s intrinsic motivation and build on their interests within the classroom, until school came to a jarring halt due to Covid-19. 


Our plans shifted, and new dilemmas regarding distance learning arose. Each of the team members shared that supporting student’s independence had now become increasingly more challenging with distance. With students now learning from home under the wing of their families, it felt as if they had taken a step back in their roles and independence,  and parents began to take over many responsibilities that students once held. Of course to some degree, this is completely necessary considering distance learning is brand new to all, and young people rely heavily on their family members at this stage of life. However, we noted that in the classroom, parents are not there to hold their child’s hands. As a team, we know how capable our students are when it comes to being independent in the classroom. Our research remained significant to the development of our lesson. We decided that it would be even more important now than ever to develop a series of lessons set to build student intrinsic motivation, allowing them to feel responsible and proud of their learning from home. 


2. Developing student intrinsic motivation.


Intrinsic motivation (IM) can be defined as a source of natural reinforcers that work to motivate behaviors towards reaching a goal (Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000,). Developing a student’s IM is no simple task, especially when it comes to motivating young people. Young people who are in a naturally egocentric phase of development, are often asked to act a certain way or complete tasks without understanding the why behind it. Historically, rewards are an extremely easy way to control behaviors and actions of people. (Sansone & Harackiewicz, 2000) When thinking about rewards in regards to young people, they can certainly be persuaded to complete work or control behavior if a reward such as a sticker or prize is involved, however this system of rewards can be detrimental to developing IM (Kohn,1994) .  Additionally, Lemos (2014) crafted a study comparing IM to extrinsic motivators (EM) in students.  IM is when the student applies themselves for the learning that occurs, while EM is when students perform for the grade or teacher approval (Lemos, 2014, p. 929).  Lemos’ (2014) study showed that IM and EM can both exist without interfering with each other. However over time, IM provides students with a better outlook on learning, “IM was steadily associated with better achievement, a negative relationship emerged between EM and student’s achievement by the end of elementary school” (Lemos, 2014, p. 930). 

As a team, we considered the research to create a series of lessons that could develop intrinsic motivation in a time of distance learning. We began to think about the power of ownership and the struggle to re-implement the independence that student’s once held in the classroom, into their home learning . We wanted to provide meaningful tasks for students that include a purpose that directly expresses the why behind the task in a developmentally appropriate way. 


3. Discovering engagement strategies through student interest. 


We knew that it was our intent to bring pride and ownership to our students through multiple means of representation, but lastly we needed to consider our students’ needs and interests in order to engage them. According to Jablon, (2006) “engagement is active” ( p.13). Meaning that students are listening and absorbing information. They are interested in completing the task and find some “inherent value”(p.13) in what they are working on. An engaged student does not just do the work to have it finished, they do it with “enthusiasm and diligence” ( p.13) Engagement in the classroom can be looked at as both psychological and behavior characteristics. Psychologically engaged learners look like “intrinsically motivated by curiosity, interest, and enjoyment and are likely to want to achieve their own intellectual or personal goals” ( p. 12). We began to think about the tasks that are most enjoyable and engaging to students in Sandy’s class. They are incredible creators who love to have choice and freedom to express themselves. As we continued to research engagement I came across a study by Kearney & Joanne (2018)  that explains the power of visual schedules for elementary school students. According to Kearney & Joanne, a visual schedule can allow a child to know where they are supposed to be and when they are supposed to be there( p.13). It also establishes a predictable environment where a child can feel safe and supported.  Most importantly, a visual schedule can provide motivation by guiding a child to be aware of expectations and activities ( p.33.)


This concept encompaased all of the areas we had hoped to hit during this lesson study! Asking the students to create their own weekly schedule for home learning finally felt like we had found the perfect task. It incorporates UDL strategies as their visual pictures and multiple ways for students to represent their thinking! They could cut and paste, they could draw, or they could write; the possibilities are endless. Creating a schedule encourages intrinsic motivation, it allows for students to feel in control of their day/week and understand the importance and why behind each task. They are developing pride and ownership by holding the power to decide when and how they would complete their own work, in an order that they independently choose. Finally, the task is high-interest and engaging based off of the interests of students in Sandy’s class. There is plenty of room for creativity and self expression in this task as well.  As a team, we are so proud of the research and development that has culminated into our final lesson study. 


Results & Conclusion:


On the day of the lesson study, we observed Sandy and her class in a Zoom meeting. Each of the three focus students shared their schedules live, and a follow up survey was sent out to their parents:

FS1 is generally shy speaking to the group, sharing her self made weekly schedule with pride and enthusiasm. According to a message from her parent, “The schedule worked out good and she liked being able to make her own schedule by herself and make it colorful the way she likes it. She said she felt proud of making something for herself. She wants to do it again for this week.”

 FS2 is generally excited to share and  has some speech challenges . She was eager to share her schedule as she held up her paper a few times while FS1 was sharing. She did however, verbally wait her turn to share! When it was her turn, she eagerly dissected her schedule and shared her reasoning behind her choices. 

FS3 is generally moving his body and touching objects, by the time it was his turn to share, he held up his work but did not have very much information to share about it. His body language showed that he might have been tired. However, his parent shared that creating the schedule “felt good” and they were able to be flexible and move pieces around as needed. 


Each of our three focus students completed the series of lessons. As a team we feel proud of their accomplishments that were made possible by our lesson study. We created an activity where students could make choices and feel in control of their learning. According to student and parent feedback, we feel that our lesson was successful! This activity provided students with the tools to create their own schedule for the rest of distance learning, propelling them towards independence and growth in intrinsic motivation. 




Jablon, J., & Wilkinson, M. (2006). Using Engagement Strategies to Facilitate Children's Learning and Success. YC Young Children, 61(2), 12-16.


Kearney, S., & Jasmine, Joanne. (2018). Using Visual Activity Schedules to Follow Multi-Step Directions to Reduce Off-task Behaviors and Prompt Dependence of Preschool Children, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.


Kieran, L., & Anderson, C. (2019). Connecting Universal Design for Learning With Culturally Responsive Teaching. Education and Urban Society, 51(9), 1202-1216.


Kohn, A. (1994,December). The Risk of Rewards .Retrieved from https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/risks-rewards.


Lemos, M., & Veríssimo, L. (2014). The Relationships between Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation, and Achievement, Along Elementary School. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112(C), 930-938.


Sansone, C., & Harackiewicz, J. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation: The search for optimal motivation and performance (Educational psychology). San Diego: Academic Press.