In Many education circles, “Universal Design for Learning” or “UDL” is receiving greater attention. You may wonder what UDL is. I found this succinct summary written by Kim Marshall in his weekly memo. A link to the original report is included at the end of the article.
From the Marshall Memo...
In this Educational Leadership article, Spencer Salend and Catharine Whittaker (State University of New York/New Paltz) deconstruct Universal Design for Learning. UDL makes instruction accessible to all students in the same way that a ramp makes a sidewalk accessible to wheelchairs, strollers, bicycles, skateboards, and delivery carts. When UDL is executed skillfully, it meets the needs of a wide range of students by providing multiple means of:
- Representation – content is presented in a variety of ways;
- Action and expression – students can respond and show their learning in several modes;
- Engagement – teachers use a range of practices to boost student motivation.
Salend and Whittaker suggest seven steps for optimal implementation of UDL:
• Understand students’ learning differences. Before designing a unit and its component lessons, teachers need to get a handle on students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds and their academic, behavioral, and social interests, strengths, preferences, and challenges.
• Conduct an ecological assessment. This includes curriculum expectations, assessments, technology, class size, classroom layout, support personnel, collaboration with colleagues, and how students are accustomed to working with each other.
• Customize learning goals and objectives. “Learning objectives may vary,” say Salend and Whittaker, “in the amount of content to be learned, the level of difficulty of that content, the pace at which students are expected to learn, and the ways in which students are expected to demonstrate their learning.”
• Identify possible barriers to student success. Certain ways of presenting content may cause problems; there might be limits on how students are allowed to respond; and certain approaches might not motivate students.
• Select UDL solutions. Taking into account the barriers, teachers need to find the best ways to present material, engage all students, and get them responding. For example, a teacher might use color, graphic organizers, and enlarged type size to highlight important information; incorporate animals to spur interest in particular students; use manipulatives; and get students working in small groups.
• Ensure that UDL solutions are well implemented. This means monitoring timing, materials, technology, groupings, and implementation.
• Assess results. The bottom line: how did the UDL plan affect student learning, behavior, and socialization? Artifacts might include tests, performance tasks, student work, teacher observations, interviews, and self-reflection.
“UDL: A Blueprint for Learning Success” by Spencer Salend and Catharine Whittaker in Educational Leadership, April 2017 (Vol. 74, #7, p. 59-63), available for purchase at http://bit.ly/2oSlYK8;