Universal Design for Learning: Creating a Learning Environment that Challenges and Engages All Students
One of the primary objectives of UDL is to challenge and engage all students. UDL stipulates that teachers present information in a variety of ways, allow students options for learning and demonstrating their knowledge, and incorporate practices that maximize student engagement. In this way, UDL enables students with a range of differences in their abilities to access the content and skills taught in the general education classroom. By using the three principles of representation, action and expression, and engagement when designing their lesson plans, teachers can reduce or eliminate barriers that may impede students’ learning or interfere with their ability to demonstrate their learning. Additionally, a teacher must know the intent of the learning goal for the lesson or unit. When this has been accomplished, he or she can allow students to access (i.e., instructional materials and methods) and demonstrate their learning (i.e., assessment) in multiple ways.
With your preferences or needs in mind, choose one of the formats below to access a summary of Universal Design for Learning as presented by David Rose and Grace Meo.
David Rose: UDL is a framework for thinking about teaching and learning. One of its most important ideas is that students are by their very nature divers, and that diversity is a good thing.
Grace Meo: Students represent such a variety of skills, background, needs, strengths, abilities, etc. Each student brings their own uniqueness to the lesson, and it’s not that someone is just generally low performing. They might have skills or interests in certain areas and, conversely a student who might be reading at or above grade level might have areas where they need some supports and scaffold. Once that is understood then one plans a lesson, not necessarily for an individual student, but you plan the lesson thinking about the greatest diversity of students. The lesson itself will be applicable or accessible for a broad range of students, knowing that some of your students will have limited experiences with the concept you are talking about or will have background knowledge unique to their own culture. So one has to build in the supports and scaffolds from the beginning to think about that great diversity.
David Rose: UDL reminds us to look at three things, primarily, in order to understand the differences in our students. What does the student know already? Secondly, what does the student know how to do? What are the skills and strategies they have? Thirdly, a teacher needs to know what kinds of things will engage and motivate the student. So the point in UDL is making sure you know all three of those things, because that will allow you to design a good lesson.
Revisiting Initial Thoughts
Think back to your initial responses to the following questions. After working through the resources in this module, do you agree with your Initial Thoughts? If not, what aspects of your answers would you change?
How can teachers at Sycamore Middle School meet the educational needs of all of their students?
To meet the needs of the widest range of students, what should teachers consider when planning their instruction?
When you are ready, proceed to the Assessment section.