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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If College Majors Were Types Of Coffee

Different coffee styles have different personalities - just like college students.
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Everyone knows college students love their coffee. Without this delicious drink of pure happiness, college students wouldn’t be able to stay up late cramming for exams, hanging out with friends, or having a late-night Netflix binge. Just like coffee, there are many different types of college students, from pre-med to English to history. Here are the different majors, described as different styles of coffee.

1. Chemistry - Macchiato

A lot has to go in to make the perfect chemistry major: just like a perfect macchiato. The double shot of espresso is needed for the all night study sessions crammed in before exams 2-3 days a week, and the small dot of foamed milk is the passion that every one of these students have for their area of expertise: whether it’s, pre-med, research, forensics, or any other type of chemistry.

2. Art – Latte

Lattes are made with espresso, steamed milk, and milk froth on top. The milk froth is usually used for a beautiful decoration on the top. Like art majors, lattes can be seen in all different shapes and styles. Creativity is key in art majors and latte’s alike!

3. Education – Frappuccino

Frappuccinos are the milkshake to the coffee world, filled with many different sugary flavors, whipped cream, and sauces. The sugar-induced rush will help you keep up with the children during the day, and the small amount of coffee will keep you up to make plenty of lesson plans!

4. Music – Café Americano

A café Americano is made with two things: espresso and hot water. Music majors are made with two things: music and practicing. The two both require simplicity yet perfection and have no time for excessive things (like milk or free time).

5. Accounting – Iced Coffee

Too much ice leaves the drink watery. Not enough ice leads to a lukewarm, unsatisfying cup of coffee. Only the perfect ratio of coffee to ice makes this drink the ideal drink for accounting majors.

6. History – Flat White

With flat white coffee, you either love it or hate it – just like history. Neither are common, but those who love history or flat whites are 100% compassionate about it.

6. Biology – Mocha

Biology majors need coffee: a lot of it. Hence, the double shot of espresso. Biology majors also need sweetness, hence the chocolate in a mocha. Biology is the perfect blend of the lab and the real world, just like a mocha coffee is the perfect blend of chocolate and coffee. Biology majors and mochas make the world go around and bring a little bit of sweetness to this bitter world.

7. Communications – Affogato

To the outside world, communication majors seem perfectly put together. However, a lot goes into being a good communication major: just like a lot goes into making the perfect affogato. From making the perfect shot of espresso to making the perfect ice cream to pair, communication majors and affogato are perfect together: just like coffee and ice cream.

8. Psychology – Decaffeinated

Psychology majors know the importance of sleep and know that caffeine messes up your sleep cycle. Decaffeinated coffee is perfect for psych majors – and for their sleep.

9. English – a shot of espresso

Most types of coffee begin with espresso. Just like espresso, most of our civilization begins with the English language. English majors and espresso alike are stable to live.

10. Business – Espresso con Panna

Espresso con Panna is a simple shot of espresso with whipped cream. Business majors are a stable, just like the espresso, but add a little pizzazz to life: the whipped cream. Business majors know how to do work and have fun, just like the con Panna.

11. Nursing – Ristretto

Ristretto is a smaller amount of liquid with a higher concentration of caffeine. Nursing students are constantly on the go and need energy without spending a lot of time drinking a load of coffee – and having to frequently use the bathroom to get rid of it. The ristretto is perfect for any and all nursing majors!

Cover Image Credit: Future Ready

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Don't Let Anybody Shame You For Being A Community College Student

Community college is not a bad thing. In the end, you will save money and will probably be much happier.
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It's your senior year of high school and all around you, your classmates are buzzing with excitement. What is the excitement about? College acceptances! Your friends, athletes, and classmates all around you are announcing the big name universities they have applied and been accepted to. In all the commotion you can't help but feel excited for them as well. But what happens when you go home and family and friends start asking you where you are going? What happens when you have known since the beginning of junior year that you are going to a community college or the "13th grade" as others call it?

I'll tell you what happens, people around you smile and change the subject. Or they ask "why?" and say that it is a terrible idea. They tell you that you are making a mistake and that if you don't go straight off to a university, you will never have a degree or a good job as other people that went straight to a university. I'm here to tell you that they are wrong.

There is no shame in going to community college for two years. In fact, if you are not quite sure what you want to major in or do when you graduate then it is the perfect time to find out. Community college gives you 2 extra years to find out what you like to learn about, what you like to do, and what you see yourself doing in the future.

Not to mention, community college gives you the chance to save up money for two years. That way when you graduate, you can go off to a big name university and not have to take as many loans out had you went straight there. The best part of going to a community college is that after your two years there you complete all your prerequisite classes, you also graduate with an associates degree.

After you can find a "big university" that accepts your college credits that you have already completed and transfer right over. You complete your junior and senior year there and graduate with a bachelors degree. The best part is no one ever has to know you went to a community college if you don't want them to.

Community college is not a bad thing. In the end, you will save money and will probably be much happier. Let's throw away the stigma. Let's start giving kids that are confused about where they should go and what they should do, the option of going to community college.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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