Universal Design For Learning Implementation

Universal Design For Learning Implementation

Jumpstarting Today!

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.

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10 Steps To Committing In The New Semester

We all make the same mistakes along the way.

It seems that every semester I make roughly the same mistake: I get so excited to come back to school and see everybody, I forget about the (necessary) evil of classes. Now, I'm a girl who loves class–I enjoy what I'm registered for, and I genuinely like to learn–but the fact of the matter is, at the beginning of the semester it feels like you have a lot more free time and availability than you actually do.

As a result, you end up signed up to do just about everything under the sun, never considering the delicate balancing (or juggling) act that will no doubt ensue. Everybody goes through the same ten steps...

1. Returning to campus.

You get back to campus and it's an instant reunion–you can't wait to see everybody, they can't wait to see you. Basically, it's just a really great time.

2. Hearing about new opportunities.

Whether it's a new job, a new club, a new dance troupe or just a new friend, chances are the beginning of the semester is the time to find them. Everything achieves maximum priority at this time of year, because literally everything seems important. In other words, chances are, everything is a big deal, and, subsequently, you want to be involved in all of it, which leads to...

3. Being excited about all these newfound interests.

You just can't wait to get involved with every. single. thing.

4. Feeling ~put-together~ because of your ability to juggle so much new stuff.

You feel totally at peace. You've managed to invest yourself in everything on campus, you enjoy it all, and you're still managing somehow to make straight A's.

5. But then, all of this new stuff is like:

All of a sudden though, it's midterm season. You realize you have not yet taken the necessary time to calculate all the various ways you need to spread yourself too thin. Once you do...

6. Mass panic.

You have no idea how to put an end to the chaos you've created, but you know you need to act fast.

7. You get back on top of it all.

Turns out, the panic wasn't really necessary. You make it through, and come out the other side as a hero. Go you!

8. Cutting back a little bit.

Much as you hate to admit it, you signed up for too much. It's a tale as old as time, because you just can't do everything at once. You pick your favorite involvements and move on from there.

9. Finding the things you really enjoy.

Once you figure out what you like best on campus, you can devote yourself to that... Until next semester at least.

10. Getting excited to take on 2018 and a new semester with all your newfound interested and pals by your side.

Now that all the kinks are worked out, you're ready for this year to be your best yet.

Here's to a new semester. Let's get out there, overcommit, regroup, and make this year our best yet everybody!

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What's All The Hype About Syllabus Week For?

I've already had three professors email me their syllabi and assign work that's due for the first day of classes.

Syllabus week, or "sylly week", as some call it, is supposed to be the best week for a party in college. I've seen countless memes about syllabus week, where classes only last 10 minutes and no work is done. I have some friends that say they don't even need to go to class during syllabus week because it's pointless... Excuse me, but what the heck?! I'm not going to name names of other schools, but I can tell you for sure I've never experienced anything like this. Not even close.

I've already had three professors email me their syllabi and assign work that's due for the first day of classes. I have books I need to buy a week in advance, read and finish, before walking in the door the first day of classes.

I'm not complaining, I'm just confused. Why would a professor go through all the trouble of driving to the school, parking, and walking to class just to stay for 10 minutes, read two pieces of paper and then leave? Besides wasting their own time, they're wasting the students time and money.

If I scheduled a class from 11:00 to 12:15 then that's all I have planned to do in that time and I'm not missing anything if I sit there the whole time and learn like I planned to do. Sure a shortened class is great and now you can go back to your room and take a nap.

But unless you're a freshman and didn't make your own schedule, there's a 99% chance you already scheduled time for a nap. And if you didn't, that's your own fault.

Plus, from what I've seen, people go out on weeknights whether is syllabus week or not. So what makes syllabus week more special? Is it because it's the first week back from break? Because you haven't gone out with your friends in a month? I'm really looking for answers here.

Thus far, I've experienced three syllabus weeks, and I'm about to embark on my fourth and there's nothing I've noticed that makes it any more special than any other week in the semester.

I'd even go as far to say syllabus week is lowkey kind of stressful. If you procrastinated ordering books, you're praying Amazon Prime can get them to you before class. You need all new notebooks for professors that don't allow laptops in class. And my least favorite things, class introductions.

Sure there's the easy: Name, Hometown, and Major. If your professor really wants to amp it up, they're going to ask you to throw in a fun fact about yourself.

Fun facts are the bane of my existence because I always forget what I said last time I was asked and have to think of something new. You have to think of something quickly and hope no one else takes it before you. I have had professors make me say something new because someone else had it, or call other people out for not having "fun enough" facts.

And there's always one or two kids in every class that come prepared with things that blow everyone away.

Moral of the story: syllabus week is just like every other week to me. Who knows though, maybe one day I'll experience the greatness that is "sylly week". But until then I'll be arriving to class on the first day having read the syllabus, done the homework, and hopefully prepped with a good fun fact.

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