UDL: Designing for ALL Learners

Below is a blog post I created to share with my school community on our Edtech Site/blog. I was inspired by all of the information I have learned from this class.

This is the first blog post from the Edtech Team. We want to use this blog to share some of our reflections, passions, and ideas with the PALCS community. We will be writing monthly posts. We hope you will follow along!

Our first topic is UDL. In the 1990s, there began a shift in approach to addressing the disabilities of schools rather than students. This shift was later coined universal design for learning (UDL). UDL drew upon neuroscience and education research and leveraged the flexibility of digital technology to design learning environments that from the outset offered options for diverse learner needs (Rose, Meyer, Strangman, & Rappolt, 2002).

UDL is based on the premise that instruction can be accessible to a wider range of learners when lessons are intentionally designed to include multiple means for accessing, processing, and internalizing information (Rose & Gravel, 2009). The UDL framework presents a structure for designing instructional environments and activities that take into account the varied ways in which these learning networks function for each learner. You can refer to the UDL checkpoints as you design lessons, to intentionally consider and proactively build in strategies that support academic and needs of your students

At the highest level the Guidelines are organized around the three principles of UDL:

  • Provide multiple means of engagement
  • Provide multiple means of representation
  • Provide multiple means of action and expression

We often already follow these principles as we are creating our lessons at PALCS, but we should be hitting more of these checkpoints. Many of these targets are providing digital media options. We are at an advantage being a digital school, and it is easier for us to integrate these options into our learning platform. As you look to integrate these principles, we would like to highlight some tools that will help you hit some of these targets.

  • Provide Multiple Means of Engagement
    • Provide multiple resources or options that students can choose from
      • Allowing students to choose different resources to understand a topic
        • Nearpod to engage with content
    • Give them activities that encourage autonomy
      • Using GSuite apps for Student Blogging on a topic
    • Provide feedback through such things as non- assessed quizzes to encourage reflective learning
      • Using the multimedia functionality in speedgrader to encourage a feedback loop
    • Chunking content
      • Our Lesson Package format!
  • Providing Multiple Means of Representation
    • Simple media options such as text-to-speech, animations to show processes, or images to expand on verbal ideas, are a start. Representing content in multiple ways also means making explicit some aspects of content that are often implicit, such as the structure and key information in a legal database or highlights and annotations by the author or another expert in a text. These alternatives act as maps or signposts for readers seeking meaning and help learners understand essential ideas. Teachers practicing UDL have further expanded the idea of multiple means of representation to include different lesson formats and types.
    • Canva
      • To create images to expand on verbal ideas
    • Quizlet
      • To clarify vocabulary and review with students
    • Snagit (if you haven’t downloaded it already, it is in our software catalog)
      • To highlight or make annotations by the author or another expert in a text.
    • Clips by Apple (Providing options for Perception and options for Communication)
      • Clips is an iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, graphics, and more.

Multiple Means of Action and Expression

For more resources, please view this Participate UDL Collection!

Applying the UDL principles can help us as educators to progress in our teaching. With a UDL mindset, when something isn’t working, we don’t immediately think that we as teachers or learners are deficient—lacking intelligence, attention, effort, or motivation. As we move away from a factory model of education, we embrace a dynamic model that celebrates human diversity and variability. The work we do will have different features and a better understanding of how best to teach and learn!

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