Universal Design for Learning

Presented by Melissa Kruger

Martha R. Smith Elementary

Jesup, GA

  • Inspiration for UDL

  • The Three Principles of Universal Design for Learning

  • Principle 1: Providing Multiple Means of Representation

  • Principle 2: Providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression

  • Principle 3: Providing Multiple Means of Engagement

  • Technology's Role in UDL

  • Brain Research and UDL

  • What Does This Mean for MSES?

  • CAST Tools

  • Resources


Inspiration for UDL

Universal Design for Learning began soon after architecture made its leap into universal accessibility.  Additions such as a cut in the curb, ramps, elevators, larger stalls, and bars along the walls are only a few modifications that were made to make buildings universal to all.  The idea soon ingrained itself into education in the form of projectors, enlarging fonts, text-to-speech programs, to name a few.

The Three Principles of Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning is based upon three principles; Providing Multiple Means of Representation, Providing Multiple Means of Action and Expression, and Providing Multiple Means of Engagement.

Providing Multiple Means of Representation

Providing multiple means of representation the learning facilitator gives learners different visuals to acquire the information that needs to be learned.

-Perception: providing options that customize the display of information.

Examples include but are not limited to, englarging or changing text fonts or changing background color.

-Language and Symbols: providing options that define vocabulary and symbols.

Examples include but are not limited to, using a paper or digital dictionary and/or thesaurus teaching vocabulary before beginning a lesson.

-Comprehension: providing options that activate prior knowledge, highlight relationships, and guide information processing.

Examples include by are not limited to, using KWL charts, cueing, highlighting explicit information, using graphic organizers, breaking down directions into small, sequential steps.

Provinding Multiple Means of Action and Expression

Physical Action: providing option for physical response, navigation, accessing tools and assistive technologies.

Examples include but are not limited to, putting learning ideas to song and dance, using joysticks, touch screens, and using keyboard commands.

Expressive Skills and Fluency: providing options for communication, composition, problem solvings, and scaffolds for practice and performance.

Examples include but are not limited to, manipulatives, calculators, word prediction tools, spell check, models, and feedback.

Executive Function: providing options that guide effective goal setting, support planning and strategy development, facilitate management of information and resources, and enhance capacity for monitoring of progress.

Examples include but are not limited to, prompts, checklists, timelines, guided notes, and student graphs for showing progress.

Providing Multiple Means of Engagement

Recruiting Interest: providing options that increase individual choice and autonomy, enhance relevance, value, and authenticity, and reduce threats and distractions.

Examples include but are not limited to rewards, student involved in planning and goal setting, providing activities that are relevant in age and are culturally appropriate, and sensory stimulation.

Sustaining Effort and Persistence: providing options that heighten salience of goals and objectives, vary level of challenge of support, foster collaboration and communication, and increase mastery oriented feedback.

Examples include, but are not limited to having students restate goals, use digital scheduling tools, differentiation, peer tutoring, cooperative learning, and offer feedback that promotes perseverance.

Self-Regulation: providing options that guide personal goal setting and expectations, scaffold coping skills and strategies, and develop self-assessment and reflection.

Examples include, but are not limited to, rubrics, self-regulation checklists, charts or other recording devices that help students monitor their behavior.

What is Technology's Role in UDL?

Many aspects of UDL do not require technology, but technology can be an essential asset to UDL. Technology can make it easier to provide multiple alternatives and customize teaching and learning.

Here are some ideas on how technology can be used in implementing UDL.

  • Projectors: allow students to see the material and hear the material
  • Text-to-Speech Software: allows students to hear as well as see the material
  • Closed Caption: allows students to read the words that they are hearing
  • Electronic textbooks
  • Word processing with word prediction

Brain Research and UDL

Brain research tells us that our students' brains work differently. It is our job, as teachers, to try to stimulate each part of the brain so that our students are able to learn and retain vital information.

UDL has been designed to target three primary brain networks; the recognition, strategic, and affective networks.

The recognition network affects how we identify and categorize what we see.  The first principle, multiple means of representation, targets this network.

The strategic network affects how we organize and express ourselves. The second principle, multiple means of action and expression, targets this network.

The affective network affects how we are engaged and motivated, how we are challenged, exited, or become interested in a topic.  The third principle, multiple means of engagement, targets this network.

What does this mean for MSES?

UDL can bring enhanced and meaningful learning to the students at Martha Smith Elementary school. Students who may not be targeted as potential 'bubble' students, but are still struggling can benefit from the assistance the tools involved in UDL.  UDL will help us provide a more meaningful learning environment for ALL.

CAST Learning Tools

CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) is a websited dedicated to expanding the learning of all students, especially those with disabilities. Below you will find three resources that I felt are extremely beneficial to teachers who are beginning to implement the UDL in their classroom.

UDL Book Builder: Help your students improve their reading skills with this tool.  Create a book that can be read to the students.  As the book is read, the words being read will be highlighted for the student to follow.  A useful 'coach' can be added to give further explanation of concepts.

UDL Self-Check: This tool will help you identify your strengths and weaknessed in UDL.  Once you complete the self-check, you will have a better idea of where improvement is needed in your teaching practices.

UDL Lesson Builder: This tool will help you design effective UDL lessons to benefit all your students.

There are many resources for UD, I found the following websites to be the most informative and resourceful. 

BC UDL Project Wiki

CAST: Center for Applied Special Technology