Universal Design For Learning Implementation

Universal Design For Learning Implementation

Jumpstarting Today!
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Beginning your journey into Universal Design for Learning can be both exciting and daunting. While Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is not a checklist, but rather both a framework and a philosophy for designing learning environments, there are a few strategies that you can begin immediately. Simple changes incorporated into your learning environment can begin to add layers of scaffolding and support while simultaneously moving students into more active participants in the learning process.

Here are 4 suggestions to jump start your journey:

1) Posting the Goal

Students need the opportunity to understand why they are doing what they are doing. Posting the goal not only allows students to understand the "why" but also brings them explicitly into the learning process rather than implicitly. It is also very important to note that when students know and understand the goal they are "are more likely to stay focused, monitor themselves successfully, and derive satisfaction from their progress" (Rose & Meyer p. 88).

2) Closed Captioning

Closed captioning is a simple strategy you can literally add to your learning environment with a click of a button. Closed captioning attends to guidelines one (options to see, hear, and perceive information) and two (options to decode language...). "These supports can help boost foundational reading skills, such as phonics, word recognition, and fluency, for a number of students. Given the wide (and inexpensive) availability of captioned and subtitled media on broadcast television, on DVDs, and online, it can be a valuable addition to your teaching of diverse learners" (Brann 2011).

3) Visual Timers

Whether students are working independently, with partners, or in small groups, students need much scaffolding and support to aide in executive functioning. Timers provide students a very concrete and explicit support to assist with both task completion and transitioning. There is a multitude of visual timer options you can certainly purchase and many online timer options available for free as well with literally a click of a button.

4) Text to Speech

The benefits of text to speech should ironically "go without saying". However, much like closed captioning, it is very easy and often readily available but not often brought into the learning environment as a whole. We tend to offer to certain students rather than incorporating as an optional choice. This great tool should not be reserved for individual student devices either. Utilizing these great tools with LCD projection and audio support during large group instruction should be considered as well.


Remember also that technology is a support and enhancement but not the "be all" to implementing UDL. We certainly live in a tech-rich society and our students are digital natives. However, you can build in supports regardless of your readily available resources and tech "knowledgey". If you are using a video without a closed captioning option, a printed script can be a great support. If you do not have access to text to speech, you can simply provide a recording of yourself or a fellow student.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Theodore Roosevelt


Brann, Alise. (2011). "Captioning to Support Literacy." Powerup What Works: Reading Rockets. Retrieved from: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/captioning-s...

Rose, H. D., Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age Universal Design for Learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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I Asked A Frat Preisdent What's Great About The Fraternity Life, And He Gave 11 Me Reasons

If you're involved with a Greek organization, you can relate to this.

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I met with Jimmy Frey, President of the WVU's Mu Mu Chapter of Sigma Chi for an inside look at Greek/fraternity life. Here are the 11 reasons he loves Greek life!

1. You become a better man

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy told me that being in the fraternity makes you grow up and motivates you to become a better version of yourself! In his words, "If someone tells you that you can't, you can!"

2. Networking

Jimmy Frey

This is important for anyone who will need a job one day: Networking! Jimmy explained that there are thousands of alumni and brothers, so if you are in need of a job, post on the Facebook page (for the fraternity) and a brother will help you out!

3. Better grades

Jimmy Frey

When joining Greek life, the most common concern is how this experience will impact their grades. Jimmy told me that since he joined his fraternity, Sigma Chi, his grades have been better than before! He explained how he and his brothers will go to the library together, take the same classes, and motivate each other do well! In doing so, his fraternity had higher grades than the male average—Jimmy even had the best grades of his academic career!

4. Brotherhood

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy explained to me that his brothers always motivate each other. Besides going to the library, they go to the gym, church, and just hang out with each other. This creates a healthy and positive lifestyle.

5. Giving back to the community

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy told me that his fraternity's philanthropy is "Derby Days". It is to raise money for children battling cancer. His fraternity also raised money for Colton Hodges—a local Phi Sigma member who tragically passed away—and "Stop The Hunger". All of his brothers went to a local church and bagged over 10,000 meals for this cause! Jimmy was most proud of this, as he should be!

6. Not the stereotype

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy was keen on the fact that he and his brothers are not the stereotypical fraternity men you see on T.V. and in movies. He explained that they're very respectful of women, peers, authorities, alumni, and anyone they interact with! Besides that, they're generally just friendly and outgoing!

7. Alumni are important

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy said that his chapter's alumni are very active in the brothers' lives. The Morgantown alumni chapter meets once a month and comes up with ways to better the house, ways to donate, and makes connections with the brothers!

8. Living in the house

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy said it best: "If you don't live in the house, you are missing out on the full experience! We all go to class together, eat lunch and dinner together, and yell down the hallway if we want to hang out with each other!"

9. Bigs and littles

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy told me about his big, and that every big should take a little! His big always had his back, helped him with school, and looked out for him! Because he enjoyed having that experience, he took a little and explained how it made him feel like a better person by doing the same!

10. Sorority relations

Jimmy Frey

Jimmy said that participating in different philanthropy events, fundraisers, and socials helps him to meet others! He explained how everyone in Greek life already has one thing in common, which is Greek life itself—it helps start a conversation!

11. Advice to anyone thinking about rushing

Jimmy Frey

"Don't be nervous. Go see the campus, see the world, talk to everyone! Make connections! The more you put in, the more you get out!"

After speaking to Jimmy (and being a sorority woman myself), he represents Greek life and fraternity life in the best way possible! I hope that anyone reading this feels motivated to go Greek or has a new understanding of Greek life!

As Jimmy says, "God bless!" and "Happy Freyday!"

Cover Image Credit:

Jimmy Frey

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