Million Dollar Question: What Does UDL Look Like?

Million Dollar Question: What Does UDL Look Like?

What Does UDL Look Like? I really struggle when someone asks me, “What does UDL look like?” It is not because I don’t know the answer, in theory. It’s because I don’t know what it looks like for YOU. As the brilliant Dr. Liz Berquist explains in UDL: Moving from Exploration to Integration, “Because the implementation of UDL is variable and unique-in this sense it is a model of UDL itself. UDL looks different in every learning environment, just as it looks different in every school, district, and state. Although there are patterns to be found in this variability, there

Fighting the Anti-Guidelines: Bringing Your PD to the Next Level

Fighting the Anti-Guidelines: Bringing Your PD to the Next Level

Alanis Morrissette penned the song, “Isn’t it ironic?” Not to date myself, but when I was in high school, my friends and I rocked out to that song. If I could go back in time, I would tell Alanis to add a line about UDL professional development. It would go something like this, “It’s like rain, on your wedding day.  It’s a free ride, when you already paid.  It’s the sit-and-get of UDL PD. Who would have thought? It figuuuuures.” (It’s catchy, isn’t it?) Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is best practice for all students because it focuses on providing

Inclusive Education: It’s Not the Students Who Are Disabled

Inclusive Education: It’s Not the Students Who Are Disabled

The first organization to address the personalization of instruction for all students was the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST). CAST is still going strong today. Their research on increasing outcomes for students with disabilities began in 1984, when they explored benefits of using emerging technology to make traditional education more accessible for all students. Working in classrooms with students, researchers at CAST quickly observed that these technology-based learning supports not only fostered inclusion and allowed students with disabilities to be educated with their peers, but the supports benefited the other students as well. In the early 1990’s, they began

UDL Engagement: Honoring Cultural Identity

“The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades…” Oh,Timbuk3, how right you were. Today, Dr. Liz Berquist asked us to don sunglasses as a metaphorical lens to see where our learners are coming from, understand them and the culture that defines them, and value who they are as people. After hearing her message, I am confident that if all educators could see their students through the cultural lens that Liz defined, the future would be much brighter. The essential question that guided this work, “How does your cultural identify connect to how you connect to your students?” The answer may be uncomfortable, but it’s a conversation we

Becoming an Expert Learner: Wait, What?

“Wait. What?” Wait. What? Translation: Stop for a moment. My brain needs some time to take this in, build comprehension, and determine what exactly is possible and what resources I need to get there.  Wait, what? is a moment when our minds feel blown, because they are. Our neural pathways, as they are currently constructed, need to take a detour. Neuroscience calls this brain plasticity. Educators, we call this learning. Today’s keynote at the BCSC UDL Institute was given by rockstar teacher, Dr. Jon Mundorf, aka, Fundorf (check him out on Twitter). His message – becoming an resourceful, knowledgeable learner is best exemplified by

UDL, Expert Learners, and the 36 Ton Machine

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to the fabulous Loui Lord Nelson, author of Design and Deliver, discuss the characteristics of an expert learner – by sharing an analogy about the “Best. Birthday Present. Ever.” To provide some background, UDL is all about teaching students how to become expert learners. Knowledge is at our fingertips – Google, Siri, and countless other apps can provide us with knowledge that used to be reserved for only the “great students” of their day. Now, we live in a world that “knowledge” in isolation is rather meaningless. Our task, as educators, is to teach students what to

The Redesigned is SAT coming. Be prepared.

On January 15, I attended a presentation by Alan Bernstein, Senior District Director, K12 Services, at the College Board. The presentation focused on the release of redesigned SAT in spring 2016. Given what I learned, we, as educators, need to begin preparing for these transitions right away. Our current tenth graders will have a very different experience on the SAT and we owe it to them to prepare. Luckily, many of the transitions align to shifts we’ve already made with the Common Core. First, a note on organization. There will be 3 sections in the new SAT – only two

The Making of a UDL School: UDL School-Wide Implementation

Last week at the UDL Seminar hosted by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and CAST, Adam Deleidi, from Revere Public Schools, shared the process his school went through to fully implement UDL. His experience may help you to implement UDL in your own school. Step 1: Educate The first goal was to educate as many teachers as possible in the UDL framework. UDL is not an initiative and it’s not something else to do. It lives in every decision you make, and will affect your learning environments on every level. Even though many teachers already use some

Writing Your Professional Practice Goals the UDL Way

The end of one educator evaluation cycle means the beginning of a new one. As I think of my own professional practice goals (PPG) for next year, I realize that the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can positively impact the goal setting process for all of us. When setting PPG, remember that you are a learner, and that your goal should guide you to learn. Malcolm Knowles (1984) proposed six assumptions regarding the characteristics of adult learners that differentiate them from child learners and all of these impact the goal-setting process. Adults tend to see themselves as more

How to Balance Common Core Shifts and ELA Instruction

Having the Common Core Standards led me to modify instruction in a number of ways. I’ll discuss the major changes based on the instructional shifts outlined for the Common Core ELA standards: Shift 1: Balancing (how cute is that elephant?) Informational & Literary Text Shift 2: Knowledge in the Disciplines These requires students to learn about the world through many different varieties of text, rather than through teachers and literature. They are encouraged to explore the world through a rich combination of fiction and non-fiction. To accomplish this, I recommend constructing text sets that allow students to examine a different