When you're planning your lessons, it's important to think about how you can make them accessible and engaging for all learners. The UDL framework can be a helpful tool for doing this.
- Start by identifying the goals and objectives of the lesson. What do you want them to learn? How will they be assessed?
- Then, think about what barriers might prevent them from achieving these goals. What needs to be in place in order for all learners to succeed?
- Finally, consider how you can engage everyone in the lesson. What methods and materials will you use? How can you encourage learner agency?
By following these steps, you can make sure that your lessons are designed to meet the needs of all learners.
Create barrier-free goals and objectives
One of the first steps in planning a UDL lesson is to create goals and objectives that are free from barriers. This means making sure that they are clear, achievable, and relevant to all learners.
To do this, you'll need to think about what you want them to learn, and how you can make sure that the goals are accessible to all. For example, if you're teaching a history lesson, you might want to create a goal that is relevant to all learners, such as "To understand the causes of the First World War."
Identify and anticipate the barriers, develop solutions for every learner
Once you've identified the goals of the lesson, it's time to think about what barriers might prevent the learner from achieving them. This includes anything that could make it difficult for them to engage with the material, or to express what they have learned.
Barriers can show up in many ways including, but not limited to:
- Learning environment itself
- Inaccessible materials and tools we use in classrooms
- Ways we ask the learner to express themselves
- A learner’s disposition or academic esteem (ex. I’m not a good reader OR I’ve never been very good at math)
- Lack of prior knowledge
- Language and academic language
- Internal barriers to the affective network (ex. being bullied at school; being hungry, tired, cold/hot; feeling depressed or disconnected; feeling upset by something that may have happened either in or outside of the learning environment)
Identifying barriers in the English or ELA classroom
Design solutions to these barriers through both choice and scaffolding. Download the practical classroom example of the thinking and design process teachers must go through in order to universally design for their learners.
Identifying barriers in the math classroom
The math classroom can be a daunting place for any learner. With the UDL framework, you can find proactive ways to design your instruction to overcome any barriers in the learning environment and make math even more accessible to all learners.
Use a variety of methods and materials
When you're planning your lesson, it's important to use a variety of methods and materials. This will ensure that all learners are able to engage with the material in a way that suits them best. Some ideas for doing this include:
- using pictures and diagrams to support visual learners;
- using audio recordings to support auditory learners;
- using hands-on activities to support kinesthetic learners; and
- using technology to provide alternative ways of accessing information.
Creating self-directed learners
Another important aspect of UDL is encouraging everyone to take an active role in their own learning. This means giving them the opportunity to direct their own learning, and to make choices about how they want to engage with the material.
There are many ways that you can encourage student agency and help create self-directed learners. Some ideas include:
- setting up collaborative learning groups;
- allowing the learner to choose their own topics for research projects;
- giving the learner the opportunity to share their work with the class; and
- providing feedback that is tailored to individual needs.
Webinar: 5 ideas for your K-12 classrooms
Register for this on-demand session presented by Paula Kluth, Author, Advocate & Keynote Speaker.
Recorded during as part of our UDL Touchdown Series this session explores five ways to integrate the principles of UDL into lessons and learning spaces immediately. Featured hacks include showing “this and that” adding “built-in” breaks, and offering assistive technology to all. These strategies are appropriate for both school age students and post-secondary learners
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has an enormous potential to positively impact the learning experience of all learners. Learn more about building the case for applying universal design for learning at your institution.
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