Friday, June 28, 2013

UDL Movie Review - Monsters University

I stole this idea from my good friend Chris Bugaj (@attipscast) of the A.T.TIPSCast.  He posted several interesting movie reviews, where he talked about the use of Assistive Technology tools and ideas in the movie.  They are very thought provoking, and I would suggest you check them all out on his blog - Assistive Technology Movie Reviews.  I saw Monsters University recently and I had an idea about how it showed us some interesting things about UDL.  So here's my UDL Movie Review for Monsters University.

Monsters University was released by Pixar recently, and it features the Mike and Sully as they head to college and get to know each other.  That being said, they are not the friends that we know and love from Monsters, Inc.  In fact, they start off as rivals, who have to work together.  They are both students in the School of Scaring, and are attempting to become scarers.

The first thing I noticed is diversity.  In the monster universe there are no two monsters alike.  They are unique and throughout the universe adaptations are made.  Silly little things like 2 sets of push bars on the doors, for big and little monsters.  Or the fact that just about any vehicle is specifically built for it's user.  Or it is considered normal for a monster to just fly around and there are places for them to land or get into buildings.  All these little things add up to a place that is accepting of differences and even celebrates them.

During the movie we meet the frat of Oozma Kappa.  All of the the members of Oozma Kappa are unique.  It isn't until they realize and embrace their uniqueness that things start to turn around for them.  In the same way we need to be looking for our students strengths and capitalize on them.  We need to provide unique challenges and unique solutions so they can master what we are teaching.

Team work was another essential message of the movie.  Just as they couldn't accomplish their goals without each Monsters' unique ability, they also could not have accomplished them individually.  Just as we need to support each other to help students meet goals.  OK, so it's a little cheesy, but it is something we have to remember.  Each of us individually don't have all the answers.  There is always another teacher, staff member, secretary, parent, or really anyone who might have another way to look at a student and/or their unique needs.  We need to remind ourselves it is OK to ask for help and use our teams to our advantage.

Lastly, I was struck by how much motivation factored into the movie.  Early on in the movie, we realize the our friend Mike Wazowski is not the scariest monster in the Monster universe.  This will not come as a surprise to anyone who has seen him.  But with the right motivation, Mike makes huge gains.   We too have to look at students motivations and how to engage them in a meaningful way.  We have amazing tools at our disposal and we need to think about how they can be used with all students.

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