Monday, November 26, 2012

Universal Design for Learning

How do I reach all students? Students in our heterogeneous classrooms bring many distinct challenges to learning.

One very important way to address the challenges is to consider them from the planning phase of the lesson. Rather than only relying on differentiating instruction as a response to student understanding of lessons. Universal Design for Learning is just such a process. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines 2.0 is an interactive assistant for thinking about and planning for individual student needs as we develop our lessons.The goal is the success of all students in an engaging and motivating learning climate.

In fact, the Model Curriculum Unit Project has used UDL as a lesson-planning component. Since the standards in math and ELA do not address the specifics of instruction for special populations, UDL has provided that support.

Access the guidelines document at The guidelines were developed by the Center for Applied Technology (CAST). You may wish to check out the very informative CAST site at In the meantime, the districts involved in our Southeast DSAC Leadership Network will be invited to use the tools as they plan units and lessons and to support one another through the Network as they work toward providing the means for development of resourceful and knowledgeable learners who are strategically goal-directed and purposefully motivated.

Researchers (like Nonie Lesaux of Harvard) and practitioners (like consultant, Regie Routman) are realizing and talking about how language and literacy development are connected to the development of self-regulation and executive function. UDL makes it a point to bring these two critical areas together. The Guidelines document is an indispensable reference when planning successful lessons with learners of all ages.