Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) | William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning | Michigan Technological University

In Morgan’s blog post last week, the formative assessment resource addressed the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Additionally, the assigned “Show Me!” article discussed using a UDL approach. Criterion 6 of the Virginia Quality Criteria Review Tool for Performance Assessments is “Accessibility” and also references the UDL. Specifically, criterion 6B states “The performance assessment is accessible and allows for differentiating the ways that students demonstrate their knowledge such as through the application of principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).” The rubric then provides a link to the Center for Applied Special Technology.

Since in this week’s assignment (and in our future teaching careers), we will be looking for assessments that meet the UDL, I figured we should review the website and its associated resources. The UDL website provides a helpful graphic organizer emphasizing ways the teacher can ensure accessibility and provide differentiation. According to UDL, the teacher should provide multiple means of engagement, representation, and action/expression. Each of the three categories then has sub-categories below. You can click each link to read further information. I find this resource helpful for designing lessons and choosing assessments.

What did you find helpful about this resource? Did you find anything new? Anything you will keep in mind while going over this week’s assessment assignment? Any differentiation or accessibility strategy you had not considered and plan to implement?

5 thoughts on “Universal Design for Learning

  1. Bethany, I found the website you shared to be quite interesting and a wealth of information. When I read about “providing alternatives” under the heading, “Vary the Methods for Response and Navigation”, I was reminded about how lucky we are to have access to so much assistive technology. In the not too distant past, I attended a Recreation Therapy Conference highlighting assistive technology for people with disabilities and the information presented sounded completely farfetched. There was no way students were going to learn how to use the complex and specific tools. There was no way families were going to be able to afford the amazing technologies the presenter was showcasing. You could have heard a pin drop in the audience when we were shown…… a light that would turn on and off merely by means of voice activation! We were mesmerized to watch a computer type as someone spoke into it. Today, most, if not all, of us use assistive technology in our everyday routine by means of our smart devices. Imagine what that means for someone with a disability? Applying that same knowledge into the classroom has not completely equaled the playing field but it sure has taken away the stigma attached to needing assistive devices.

    This website is just one highlighting the use of Assistive Technology in the classroom. Whether we, as educators, decide to work within a Special Education classroom or not, each of us should become familiar with all the great ways assistive technology can benefit all of our students. Whether we use assistive technology to help a particular student or allow for differentiation for those who need it, each of us should become familiar with what’s available in the evolving assistive technology landscape. -Erika

  2. What a great post, Bethany! Thanks for these resources. One of the main reasons I applied for a MT program is to learn more about the process of differentiation and how to design for and teach diverse learners. I have plenty of experience teaching adults, but my previous program provided zero training as far as learning difference or accessibility goes. It’s not something that was addressed or even acknowledged.

    The UDL Guidelines graphic organizer is a great way to visualize UDL targets and objectives (engagement/representation/action & expression). It really helped me clarify the aims of UDL more generally. That organizer is, of course, very heavy on text (and links through to webpages filled with even more text). I think we’ve seen some great examples of UDL so far this semester, but I’d love to see even more everyday instances of UDL in classrooms.


  3. Bethany,
    I love love love this resource and this topic. Differentiation and working to meet the different needs of students is a passion of mine. I went into the field of teaching to teach special education. I decided, knowing and having experienced how challenging SPED can be, to start with teaching in a non-SPED classroom and tackling that area before moving towards something I knew to be a bigger challenge. This is what has landed me in an elementary education program. I am in teaching solely for the students, to help them, champion them, and be one of the few adults in their lives who are truly for them.
    I really love this resource because I love having visuals. The graphic organizer in the website is really easy to understand and look over. It is so important to take into account all areas in which we need to differentiate content, assessments and activities so we are carefully meeting the diverse needs of our students. There are so many things we can do, by just going the extra mile, that will ensure our student’s success in the classroom.
    Thank you for reiterating this UDL resource and sharing your findings, Bethany!

  4. Bethany,

    Thank you for sharing such a helpful website; I love how hands-on, organized, and clear it is. It is incredibly helpful how almost every sentence hyperlinks to a more detailed explanation of its meaning including examples. While I already knew the different titles/big pictures from class discussions and hand-outs I found the flow chart aspect (access, build, internalize, goal) a great way to plan out how to utilize UDL. From the website, I would like to implement some of the self-regulation tools many of my students struggle with working effectively when asked to be independent or during group work. I think in part it is due to a shorter attention span but also a lack of self-confidence/coping skills when finding issues with their work. Thanks again Bethany for sharing.

  5. Hi Bethany,

    I really liked this post. I found the website to be super helpful. It is super interactive and there is so much information for us to go through which is awesome. The part that I liked the most was the section about self-regulation. With subbing, I have run into many many students who struggle with this, and a lot of it comes from the effects of the pandemic. Having these options and guidelines to help with that is something that I am really looking forward to using.


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