Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has been around for awhile, but it is an emerging framework in many education systems, which leaves teachers with a lot of questions, such as...
- How will I find the time to plan lessons that follow the principles of UDL?
- It seems like a big change, how can I possibly pull it off?
- How can I make learning more accessible while maintaining high expectations for my students?
- My current methods/practices already work for me. Why should I change?
- Do I need to have a lot of technology in my classroom to pull it off?
... just to name a few. I have heard the above questions, among many others over from colleagues since UDL was first rolled out in our province. I'm not a UDL expert... that's for sure. I am just a UDL enthusiast - I've researched, written, and presented on the topic, and I have been gradually phasing UDL principles into my teaching. I'd like to share some tips that have helped me along the journey of becoming a teacher who "does" UDL.
UDL Tips for Implementation
- It may help to follow a UDL lesson plan template if you are new to planning universally designed lessons. There are plenty online (and here on theudlproject.com), and hopefully you can find one that works for you!
- Check out the CAST UDL guidelines - it can be used as a checklist to make sure your lesson includes multiple means of representation, multiple means of action/expression, and multiple means of engagement.
- Think about the outcomes. Remove other barriers to instruction that are unrelated to the outcomes being learned. For example, if students are expected to correctly identify the provinces and territories of Canada, instead of writing them on a map, instead they could be given a list of the provinces and territories to cut out and glue onto the map. This change makes the activity more accessible to students who struggle with fine motor skills or spelling, but still allows them to demonstrate their knowledge of Canadian geography.
- While technology can help facilitate the implementation of UDL, there are plenty of low-tech ways to do UDL, such as: supporting text with pictures, larger text, teaching to the multiple intelligences, using Bloom's taxonomy, providing students with access to games, manipulatives and artifacts, etc.
- Embrace change. It's worth it if we can include every student in the learning process in a meaningful way.
- Start small. It can be overwhelming to try to take it all on at once. Set a reasonable goal (e.g. this month plan and execute one Math lesson). Once you have more experience 'doing UDL', hopefully momentum will build and it will become easier and easier to work it into your day-to-day practice.