Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to teaching aimed at meeting the needs of every student in a classroom. It can be helpful for all kids, including kids with learning and thinking differences. But UDL takes careful planning by teachers. Here are just a few examples of how UDL can work in a classroom.
1. Posted lesson goals
Having goals helps students know what they’re working to achieve. That’s why goals are always made apparent in a UDL classroom. One example of this is posting goals for specific lessons in the classroom. Students might also write down or insert lesson goals in their notebooks. The teacher refers to lesson goals during the lesson itself.
2. Assignment options
In a traditional classroom, there may be only one way for a student to complete an assignment. This might be an essay or a worksheet. With UDL, there are multiple options. For instance, students may be able to create a podcast or a video to show what they know. They may even be allowed to draw a comic strip. There are tons of possibilities for completing assignments, as long as students meet the lesson goals.
3. Flexible work spaces
UDL promotes flexibility in the learning environment. That’s why in a UDL classroom, there are flexible work spaces for students. This includes spaces for quiet individual work, small and large group work, and group instruction. If students need to tune out noise, they can choose to wear earbuds or headphones during independent work.
4. Regular feedback
With UDL, students get feedback — often every day — on how they’re doing. At the end of a lesson, teachers may talk with individual students about lesson goals. Students are encouraged to reflect on the choices they made in class and whether they met the goals. If they didn’t meet the goals, they’re encouraged to think about what might have helped them do so.
5. Digital and audio text
UDL recognizes that if students can’t access information, they can’t learn it. So in a UDL classroom, materials are accessible for all types of learners. Students have many options for reading, including print, digital, text-to-speech and audiobooks. For digital text, there are also options for text enlargement, along with choices for screen color and contrast. Videos have captions, and there are transcripts for audio.
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About the author
CAST, Understood Founding Partner develops innovative approaches to education based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).