Welcome to Inclusive Education.


Universal Design for Learning

http://inclusive.tki.org.nz/guides/universal-design-for-learning/

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based framework that helps teachers plan learning to meet the diverse and variable needs of all students. It supports schools to realise the vision of The New Zealand Curriculum.

This guide introduces the UDL approach and illustrates the UDL Guidelines in an Aotearoa New Zealand context.

Explore how hidden barriers to learning can be identified and minimised. Identify how to ensure all your students can access learning in ways that work for them.

Download the UDL guide summary (PDF 120 KB).

Understanding UDL

The NZC principles put students at the centre of teaching and learning. UDL supports teachers to develop their curriculum in a more personalised way as they notice, recognise, and respond to the needs of all their learners and their communities.

Universal Design for Learning can help us realise the vision of The New Zealand Curriculum. It supports us to design respectful, inclusive environments where everyone is learning and achieving and diversity is seen as a source of strength.

Source: Ministry of Education

Suggestions and resources

UDL and the NZC (NZ) (video)
Supporting the vision of the NZC

This video introduces UDL and outlines how it can help us realise the vision of The New Zealand Curriculum.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

UDL and the NZC (NZ)
Supporting the inclusion principle

 

The NZC is non-sexist, non-racist, and non-discriminatory; it ensures that students’ identities, languages, abilities, and talents are recognised and affirmed and that their learning needs are addressed.

Universal Design for Learning principles recognise the variability and diversity that exist within learning environments. The three UDL principles support the design of more flexible inclusive learning environments optimised for personalisation.

Source: Ministry of Education

Supporting the inclusion principle
Learner orientated systems (NZ) (video)
Systems built around learners

Use UDL principles as your foundation for planning to meet the individual needs of all learners. This video explores flexible, inclusive spaces that are respectful of, and responsive to individual learner preferences, needs, and values.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Learner orientated systems (NZ)
UDL in an NZ classroom (NZ) (video)
Using UDL to plan for learner variability

Lindas Ojala talks about the diversity and variability of the learners in her class.

She outlines how the UDL framework helps her plan for flexibility from the outset.

 

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

UDL in an NZ classroom (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Different paths up the same mountain

This white paper explores the three principles of UDL and outlines a 5-step instructional design process for educators to apply in the classroom. Published by Goalbook.

My journey with Universal Design for Learning

In this blog post, primary school teacher Adele O'Leary shares her first steps in Universal Design for Learning. Adele describes the impact of UDL on her teaching and her learners.

Transforming inclusive education

Shelley Moore uses a bowling analogy to illustrate how adopting a UDL approach can help teachers create more effective learning environments for all students.

Myths and facts about UDL

UDL expert, Loui Lord Nelson takes on 6 stubborn myths about UDL and debunks them one by one. This infographic provides supporting facts and answers potential question those new to UDL may have.

The principle of high expectations – New Zealand Curriculum Update 22

This curriculum update supports school to explore and enact the curriculum principle of high expectations. This principle empowers all student to achieve personal excellence, regardless of their individual circumstances.

Where UDL began (video)
Fix the system not the student

Dr David Rose talks about how UDL evolved. He describes the realisation that new technologies and innovations needed to be utilised to fix learning environments rather used to help students fit in.

No captions or transcript available

Source: CAST (Canada)

Where UDL began
UDL at a glance (video)
Introduction to key ideas

An introduction to the research-based approach called Universal Design for Learning (UDL). A useful starting point to support the selection of digital tools and resources that will match and meet the diverse needs of students across the curriculum.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: CAST (Canada)

UDL at a glance
Planning for predictable variability (video)
Variability matters

In this video Todd Rose talks about why understanding and planning for the variability of learners matters.

He demonstrates how one-size-fits-all thinking can create barriers. He proposes instead "an ecosystem of learning opportunities".

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Cyber Learning

Planning for predictable variability
The value of universal approaches (image)
DSC 0664
Solutions that work for everyone

Ramps are a universal solution. Unlike steps, they are deliberately designed from the outset to be used by everyone.

UDL provides a framework to help us apply universal approaches in a planned and strategic way. It helps us think about how we can minimise barriers and build in flexibility.

Source: Stonefields school

The value of universal approaches
Benefits of UDL
  1. Teachers have a framework to create inclusive, responsive environments that value learner diversity.

  2. Students are offered access to learning in ways that work for them, not a one-size-fits-all approach.

  3. Teachers are supported to design learning environments sensitive to the individual needs of all learners from the outset.

  4. Barriers to learning are identified and minimised.

  5. Supports for learning are embedded in the environment and made available to everyone.

  6. Student anxiety is reduced as individual learner preferences are met.

  7. Materials, resources and learning goals are designed to be accessible by all students from the outset.

  8. Teachers have a fairer, deeper, and more accurate understanding of student learning through multiple assessment options.

Source: UDL benefits for teachers

Benefits of UDL

Resources and downloads

The origins of UDL

A succinct overview of the origins of UDL, from the Maryland State Dept of Education, US.

Education that fits: Review of international trends in the education of students with special educational needs

Overview of UDL by Dr David Mitchell, University of Canterbury. The theme of this chapter is that educational services and policies should be universally designed. Regular education should be accessible to all students in terms of pedagogy, curriculum, and resourcing, through the design of differentiated learning experiences that minimise the need for subsequent modifications for particular circumstances or individuals.

Introducing Universal Design for Learning

An overview of UDL and its links to The New Zealand Curriculum. This blog post covers the principles, guidelines, and examples of teacher practice in New Zealand classrooms.

Neuroscience and UDL (image)
3 Primary brain networks
Networks underpinning UDL principles

UDL's three principles are based on findings in neuroscience which identify that the brain learns across three interconnected networks.

Source: CAST

Neuroscience and UDL
3 principles of UDL (image)
3 principles of UDL based on the work of CAST Center of Applied Special Technologies
UDL principles

These three principles provide the underlying framework for the UDL Guidelines.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL

3 principles of UDL
UDL Guidelines (image)
UDL Guidelines theory and practice
Starting point not checklist

The UDL Guidelines are a starting point for thinking about the options and supports that can be built into the learning environment at the outset and offered to everyone.

They are not a checklist.

Source: CAST

UDL Guidelines
Using UDL Guidelines (NZ) (video)
Making sense of the guidelines

Chrissie Butler walks through the UDL guidelines and describes how teachers can make the best use of them when planning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Using UDL Guidelines (NZ)

Resources and downloads

Dig deeper into UDL

Chapter 4 of Universal Design for Learning, Theory and Practice covers the UDL framework and principles in depth. You will need to create a free account to access this resource.

Universal Design for Learning guidelines

A one-page summary of the UDL Guidelines and associated checkpoints.

Different paths up the same mountain

This white paper explores the three principles of UDL and outlines a 5-step instructional design process for educators to apply in the classroom. Published by Goalbook.

Impact of implementing UDL (NZ) (video)
In-depth strategic approach

Karori Normal School leadership team describe how a UDL approach supports inclusive teaching and learning and school-wide systems and processes.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Impact of implementing UDL (NZ)
Professional learning approach (NZ) (video)
A whole school approach

Principal, Conrad Kelly and Deputy Principal, Andrea Peetz from Karori Normal School share their vision and schoolwide approach to implementing UDL.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Professional learning approach (NZ)
Inclusive systems and processes

Consider how to use UDL to increase the flexibility, accessibility, and options for participation and engagement in the following:

  1. the school newsletter

  2. transition to and from school processes

  3. school website and student management systems

  4. reporting to parents

  5. appraisal and teacher registration processes

  6. staff and team meetings

  7. whole school events such as sports day, prize giving, school performances

  8. advertising and interviewing new staff

  9. school assemblies

  10. designing and delivering professional learning development

  11. communicating and collaborating across communities of learning.

Inclusive systems and processes
Inclusive design of physical spaces (image)
IMG 3689
Accessible spaces

Seek the diverse perspectives of your staff, students, and whānau to ensure the design flexibly meets all needs. To build further understanding explore Planning an innovative learning environment.

Source: Ministry of Education

Inclusive design of physical spaces

Resources and downloads

Universally designed leadership: Applying UDL to systems and schools

A leadership focussed guidebook including information on working with student data and using the UDL Guidelines to shape curriculum decisions. Written by US UDL advocates Katie Novak and Kristan Rodriguez.

Inclusion: Cultural capital of diversity or deficit of disability? Language for change

Timoti Harris, ex-principal of Ōtorohanga, College shares their five year journey towards becoming a more inclusive school. This sabbatical report describes action taken to create an environment truly inclusive of ability, ethnicity, culture, gender, and language.

CAST’s UDL Implementation Phases

An overview of CAST's five phases of UDL implementation for a district of schools.

Back to top

Supporting engagement in learning

The engagement principle is concerned with how we make decisions based on emotion and motivation. It guides the design of learning environments that are safe, relevant, and support students’ motivation and resilience. 

Our classroom is underpinned by a culture of care. If the students feel safe and comfortable, if they can bring their culture with them and we set the expectations high then that is a good foundation for learning. 

Wayne Robinson, Ōtorohanga College

Suggestions and resources

Understand the affective network (video)
The engagement principle

This animated video gives an overview of the affective network and how emotion and learning are inextricably linked.

It introduces the three UDL guidelines that support the engagement principle.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Understand the affective network
The “why” of learning

The brain’s affective networks drive our:

  • emotions 
  • motivations 
  • ability to persist and sustain effort
  • ability to self-regulate. 

Students who are enthusiastic, confident, and comfortable in a classroom setting are more likely to engage, focus, and persist in the face of difficulty.

Source: Ministry of Education British Columbia, Department of Diversity and Equity

The “why” of learning
Supporting the affective network

Learners differ significantly in the ways they can be engaged or motivated to learn.

Some learners are highly engaged and motivated by spontaneity and novelty, while others are disengaged, even frightened by those aspects, preferring a predictable routine.

To create environments that are safe for all learners, teachers need to:

  • develop acute sensitivity to learner differences in order to challenge and stretch learners without ridicule or demotivation
  • ensure the physical or online spaces where learning takes place contribute to student learning and wellbeing rather than creating stress
  • ensure learning experiences beyond the classroom, such as work experience and camp are designed with the students to minimise risk and stress.

To build further understanding, explore videos and supporting resources from the Alberta UDL Summer Institute 2011 relating to the principle of multiple means of engagement.

Source: Adapted from information from CAST

Supporting the affective network
Emotional triggers (image)
Emotional triggers and strategies to support
Strategies for support

The design of a learning activity can trigger an emotional response that can become a barrier to learning.

Consider building these flexible strategies and supports into your learning environment at the outset. 

 

 

Source: Ministry of Education

Emotional triggers
Summary (image)
Summary of engagement principle
Supporting engagement

Consider how you will support students’ emotional wellbeing, motivation, and ability to regulate and monitor themselves and their learning.

Ask students how you can help. Offer options and supports to all.

Source: CORE Education

Summary

Resources and downloads

Top 10 UDL tips for designing an engaging learning environment

Ten strategies to support planning for purposeful and motivated learners.

7 Budget-friendly ways to promote student engagement

Seven practical suggestions supporting student engagement in the classroom. The excerpts are from Universal Design for Learning in Action by Whitney H. Rapp.

Think big about engagement

A video illustrating the engagement principle. In Rob Olazagasti's middle school science class he enables students to: learn by creating, remember by experiencing, and show what they know by teaching.

Overview (video)
Recruit interest

This video introduces ways we can provide flexible options to support student's interest in learning.

It includes information on safe learning spaces where distractions are minimised.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Support choice and autonomy (NZ) (video)
Flexibility and options highly valued

Students from Rototuna Junior High School describe what it's like to learn in a large open, flexible environment.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Support choice and autonomy (NZ)
Increase relevance and value

Students are more likely to engage when they have the ability to make choices about:

  1. tools and resources they might use (digital and non-digital)

  2. methods to share their ideas and understanding

  3. subject content

  4. how they physically and virtually access an environment

  5. order of learning tasks

  6. when to sit assessments

  7. who they might access for help

  8. the process to finish or complete a task

  9. who they might work and collaborate with.

Increase relevance and value
Minimise threats and distractions (image)
students on laptops using headphones
Seek student perspectives

Noise, movement, and class layout affect students in different ways.

Discuss with students what supports their learning.

Make resources such as headphones or quiet areas available to everyone.

Source: Ministry of Education

Minimise threats and distractions
Reflection questions

How can I/we:

  1. provide options and flexible pathways within tasks or a lesson?

  2. involve all students in creating choices?

  3. offer options that align with learning preferences and needs?

  4. provide classroom activities and materials that students are able to personalise?

  5. provide culturally relevant classroom activities, materials, and contexts?

  6. offer multiple strategies to support problem solving?

  7. introduce ideas and concepts in ways that capture students imagination?

  8. create a safe and distraction free environment?

  9. build flexibility into lessons to allow breaks?

  10. collect ongoing student feedback in different ways to inform the design of lessons, resources, and materials?

Source: Adapted from Questions to ask – UDL considerations, Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

7 Budget-friendly ways to promote student engagement

Seven practical suggestions supporting student engagement in the classroom. The excerpts are from Universal Design for Learning in Action by Whitney H. Rapp.

5 ways to improve student voice and choice

Five practical suggestions to support student engagement in the classroom through student voice and choice.

Top ten UDL tips for designing an engaging learning environment

Ten practical suggestions to support educators when designing learning environments that support the growth and development of purposeful, motivated learners.

Overview (video)
Support ownership of learning

This video focuses on providing opportunities for students to understand their learning goals, collaborate with their peers, and respond to feedback.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Create goals and scaffold challenge

Making goals/intentions clear

  • Develop clear goals with associated criteria.
  • Discuss with students the context, goal, and purpose of learning activities.
  • Ensure students understand what the learning goal actually means.
  • Display the goal in multiple ways: on the board, a handout, a class website/blog, a poster, in their book, on a google doc, or a chart.
  • Offer a variety of exemplars where students have expressed understanding of goals in different ways.

Scaffolding challenge

  • Offer open inquiry activities with optional built-in supports.
  • Offer different degrees of complexity for learning activity.
  • Support students with just enough challenge but not too much that they shut down. Tools such as Mathletics allow students to learn new concepts with graduated levels, guided assistance, and scaffolding.

Source: Adapted from UDL Supporting diversity in BC schools

Create goals and scaffold challenge
Foster collaboration (image)
tuakana teina 2
Students supporting students

Collaboration and peer mentoring can be valuable approaches to support sustained engagement.

Discuss with students what works for them and the supports required.

Source: Adapted from Effective Learning in Classrooms, p88

Foster collaboration
Provide mastery-oriented feedback

Emphasise strategies and persistence rather than intelligence.

Give process feedback such as:

  • “I see you used the strategy we talked about.” 
  • “Your work has paid off.” 

Avoid praise feedback such as:

  • “You’re so smart!”

Ask yourself:

  • “Does my feedback support growth and persistence?” 
  • “Am I sharing examples of strategies that lead to success?”

Further information:

Source: Top 5 UDL Tips for Reducing Stereotype Threat

Provide mastery-oriented feedback
Reflection questions

In what ways do I support student motivation, effort, and concentration?

How can I provide:

  1. multiple strategies to support student motivation, effort, and concentration (for example, shared goal setting, paper or digital-based scheduling tools; prompts or scaffolds)?

  2. varying levels of challenge that motivate all students (for example, differentiate the degree of complexity or difficulty, provide alternatives in the tools or scaffolds)?

  3. flexible opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate (for example, cooperative learning groups, peer interaction)?

  4. feedback about progress in learning to learn (for example, reflecting on effort and perseverance, use of strategies)?

Source: Adapted from Questions to ask - UDL considerations

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

The power of yet | Carol S Dweck | TEDxNorrköping

Carol S Dweck talks about the importance of praising students for effort, strategy and process rather than grades. She describes the impact of this approach on students' reliance and achievement.

Top 5 UDL tips for reducing stereotype threat

Five examples of how teachers can create welcoming social and emotional climates that improve learning opportunities for every learner. Developed by CAST.

Maximize learning: Keeping students in the zone of proximal development

Dr Erica Warren talks about the importance of keeping students in the zone of proximal development. She offers an overview and practical tips to help in the classroom.

5 examples of Universal Design in the classroom

This article offers five practical examples of using UDL in the classroom.

Effective learning in classrooms

This book is about learning in classrooms, what makes learning effective, and how it may be promoted in classrooms. Chapter seven outlines collaboration and effective learning.

BES Exemplar 3 Ngā Kete Raukura – He Tauira 3: Teacher and student use of learning goals

This exemplar explains how student progress can be accelerated when teachers are supported to attend to learning goals. The exemplar illustrates the connection between the effective use of goals and effective feedback for students.

Overview (video)
Support self-regulation

This video introduces options to support students to self regulate their learning. When students know their strengths, needs, and best strategies they are more able to understand themselves as a learner.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US/Canada)

Overview
Introduce the learning pit (video)
Promote engagement with challenges

Provide students with a range of strategies they can apply when they get stuck in their learning.

Introduce them to “The Learning Pit” concept.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Kenilworth Learning (UK)

Introduce the learning pit
Tools to manage emotions

Support students to recognise how their emotional state impacts their learning. Introduce a range approaches that might support their learning and wellbeing, such as:

  • moving to a quiet calm space
  • playing with a fidget object
  • getting some fresh air
  • taking a movement or exercise break
  • listening to music
  • taking a food and water break
  • buddy time
  • access to a mentor for support
  • leaving the room
  • practising a breathing technique.
Tools to manage emotions
Options to reflect on learning

Provide a variety of options, scaffolds, and strategies to support self-assessment, such as:

  1. mini checklists

  2. task checklists

  3. frequent check-in points

  4. scheduled time for self reflection

  5. self assessment templates

  6. links to show how smaller learning goals connect from lesson to lesson to reach long-term goals

  7. peer reflection

  8. opportunities to review and revise

  9. learning journals

  10. digital portfolios

  11. access to a learning mentor

  12. active involvement in assessment using the Assessment Resource Bank.

Source: UDL Lesson considerations: Make your lessons universal

Options to reflect on learning
Reflection questions
  1. How can I help students manage themselves (self-regulate) and manage frustration (for example, self-regulatory goals, frequency of self-reflection and self-reinforcements)?

  2. In what ways do I support students' coping skills (for example, managing frustration, seeking emotional support, phobias, and providing feedback)?

  3. What different models and scaffolds for self assessment do I provide so students can collect and/or chart data to self-monitor changes? (for example, charts, templates, feedback, and displays)?

Source: Questions to ask – UDL considerations, from Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

Top 5 UDL tips for reducing stereotype threat

Five examples of how teachers can create welcoming social and emotional climates that improve learning opportunities for every learner. Developed by CAST.

James Nottingham’s The Learning Challenge

James explains the stages of The Learning Challenge model and how this supports student self-regulation. Examples and stories from schools are shared, along with downloadable PDF resources.

Maximize learning: Keeping students in the zone of proximal development

Dr Erica Warren talks about the importance of keeping students in the zone of proximal development. She offers an overview and practical tips to help in the classroom.

The learning to learn principle

New Zealand Curriculum Update 21 draws on evidence of why learning to learn is important. It describes how to foster learning to learn so that students take ownership of their own learning. It considers assessment for learning, self, and peer assessment.

Pause, breathe and smile

The Pause, Breathe, Smile programme is an eight-week course, taught in New Zealand schools by trained practitioners. This programme focuses on supporting social and emotional wellbeing, addressing self awareness, and self regulation skills.

Reflections on resilience

This infographic provides key ideas and themes around resilience. It offer practical tips and strategies to understand, develop, and increase personal resilience.

Back to top

Offering multiple representations of information

The representation principle is concerned with how we recognise and make sense of information. As learners perceive and understand information differently, it is essential information is presented in multiple ways.

Utilise digital tools to take first-hand experiences back to the classroom.

Suggestions and resources

Understand the recognition network (video)
The representation principle

This animated video gives an overview of the recognition network. It illustrates how learners perceive and make sense of information in different ways.

The video also introduces the three UDL guidelines that support the representation principle.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Understand the recognition network
The “what” of learning

Recognition networks help us gather information through our senses and make sense of it. They are responsible for the “what” of learning. 

Recognition networks enable us to recognise:

  • voices
  • faces
  • letters and words
  • complex patterns, such as an author’s style and nuance
  • abstract concepts like justice.

They also help us connect our background knowledge and prior experience to new ideas.

Source: Recognition Network/Representation

The “what” of learning
Present information in different ways (image)
Options for learners Rototuna Junior High School
Offer options

Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and understand information.

Support all learners by offering multiple ways to access, interpret, and remember information.

Source: Ministry of Education

Present information in different ways
Potential barriers

The presentation of information can impact access, participation, and engagement.

Potential barriers for students could be:

  1. decoding text

  2. information presented in one format

  3. materials that are unable to be adjusted, personalised, or customised for learner preference

  4. unfamiliar vocabulary

  5. text not in first language

  6. unfamiliar or complicated language

  7. unfamiliar symbols and new concepts

  8. little background knowledge to build upon

  9. materials are only available online

  10. low vision

  11. physically accessing materials, for example, turning pages, navigating digital content

  12. delivery method – for example whole class, small group.

Source: Design and deliver

Potential barriers
Summary (image)
Summary of representation principle
The representation principle

Present information and materials in different ways to ensure all students’ recognition networks are activated.

Ask students which approaches support their understanding and motivation. Refine as needed.

Source: CORE Education

Summary

Resources and downloads

Universal Design for Learning: Theory and practice (multimedia version)

Free multimedia information and teacher stories. User will need to login on first visit. Developed by CAST's founders Anne Meyer and David H. Rose, along with David Gordon.

Multiple Means of Representation - Professional Development Resource

A multimedia online resource introducing the UDL principle of Representation. The resource contains videos by David Rose and Grace Meo from CAST, accompanying text, and powerpoint slides. Collated by the Alberta Regional Consortia.

Overview (video)
Access and understanding

This video introduces options for supporting access to information.

Offering digital content provides opportunties for students to access and customise information in ways that suit their preferences.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Benefits of digital text

 

Digital text can be:

  • adjusted so that the style, size, and colour of fonts are the best fit for the student
  • converted to speech (using text-to-speech tools) to support students with reading and those who prefer to listen to information rather than (or in addition to) looking at it, or who use it to help with editing
  • hyperlinked to definitions and background information
  • illustrated with moving images
  • highlighted, annotated, and underlined to guide the reader’s attention
  • easily linked to and from online environments and documents
  • accessed collaboratively and edited 24/7.
Benefits of digital text
Closed captions audio alternative (image)
Screen Shot showing captions on website
Useful for everyone

Closed captions or subtitles are critical for Deaf students and those who are Hard of Hearing.

They are also useful for second language learners and support access and understanding for everyone in noisy environments.

Source: Department of Conservation

Closed captions audio alternative
Provide multiple supports (image)
Multiple ways to access information infographic
Access to information

Use these supports to provide alternatives and options for students to access the same information.

Source: Adapted from UDL Supporting diversity in BC schools

Provide multiple supports
Reflection questions

 

  1. Have I presented information that students can customise to match their own preference (for example, font size, color-contrast options)?

  2. What are my alternatives for auditory information (for example, closed captions, New Zealand Sign Language, transcripts, alt text on images)?

  3. What visual information will support understanding in this lesson (for example, tactile graphics, text-to-speech, video)?

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

Multiple means of representation

The power of three is a guide for providing students access to ideas, concepts, and themes in multiple ways.

Do’s and don’ts on designing for accessibility

A set of six posters with general guidelines for designing accessible web content. These posters are also useful considerations for general classroom planning and content design.

Free technology toolkit for UDL in all classrooms

A collection of free tools and resources, aligned to Universal Design for Learning approach, that support students in their learning.

Bach-visual

This video is a visual representation of Bach's Toccata and Fugue. It provides an example of how a representation can support understanding and enable a learner to identify patterns in the music that they may not be able to recognise solely by listening.

Overview (video)
Understanding vocabulary and symbols

This video introduces options to make written information more accessible to all learners.

It includes information on providing alternatives for words, symbols, numbers, or icons that may present as barriers to understanding.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Access to new language

 

To support understanding of new vocabulary and unfamiliar symbols:

  • provide illustrations connected to students’ experiences
  • use diagrams and visuals alongside
  • pre-teach important concepts and vocabulary
  • provide opportunities to build vocabulary together
  • encourage use of online dictionaries (for example, maths dictionaries)
  • embed glossaries or word definitions within online learning environment
  • explicitly teach vocabulary through concrete objects and demonstrations.

Source: Adapted from UDL Supporting diversity in BC schools

Access to new language
Understanding across languages (NZ) (video)
Student advice for teachers

Senior Pasifika students highlight the need for teachers to focus on the level of language they use in classrooms to communicate with Pasifika learners.

View transcript

Source: Pasifika Education Community TKI (NZ)

Understanding across languages (NZ)
Use multiple media (NZ) (video)
Offering multiple options

Felix is a Year 5 student with dyslexia.

Having the option to use video supports his understanding of new concepts.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Use multiple media (NZ)
Reflection questions

 

  1. How will I clarify important vocabulary (for example, embedded support, highlight terms)?

  2. How will I reduce the barriers for decoding of text (for example, text to speech, digital text)?

  3. How will I support second language learners?

  4. What are alternative ways to promote understanding of language (for example, dominant language, link key vocabulary, electronic tools)?

  5. How will I incorporate multiple media to support understanding of text (for example, animation, storyboard, illustrations, simulations, images, or interactive images)?

Source: Questions to ask – UDL considerations, Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

Illustrated mathematics dictionary

A online maths dictionary with easy-to-understand definitions, illustrations, and links to further reading.

Teacher tools

A New Zealand website that provides maths resources for teachers, students, and parents. Videos are available to support understanding of number strategies up to year 0-8.

Overview (video)
Options to deepen understanding

This video introduces options and supports for making connections between background knowledge and larger concepts.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Activate background knowledge (image)
K-W-L chart
Tap into prior knowledge and experiences

Use brainstorming charts to help students activate prior knowledge, engage, and make connections.

Source: Monica MeGown

Activate background knowledge
Patterns and big ideas

Offer students a variety of tools and approaches to help them highlight patterns, critical features, big ideas, and relationships between concepts.

Support understanding by offering:

  • information presented in multiple ways (including songs and chants, short skits or performances, digital media) 
  • highlighters to identify key words/phrases and text features
  • coloured paper or sticky notes as reminders or review of key concepts, or big ideas
  • graphic organisers to support organisation of new ideas
  • scaffolded activities (for example, cloze activities, word banks, sentence starters, prompts)
  • exemplar templates students can refer to
  • comparisons of familiar concepts to lead to new concepts
  • digital time management or calendar for organising assignment tasks and deadlines
  • text or visual prompts to scaffold students through tasks.

Source: Adapted from UDL Supporting diversity in BC schools

Patterns and big ideas
Options for processing and generalising (image)
mind map Barrett Discovery2
Making connections

Provide students with options to map information and make connections across contexts.

Model the use of colour, symbols, and images alongside text when using mind maps.

Source: Laurie Sullivan

Options for processing and generalising
Reflection questions

 

 

  1. How do I help students access prior knowledge and combine this with new information (for example, graphic organisers or maps, cross-curricular analogies, visual imagery)?

  2. In what ways will I help or guide students to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant or unimportant content (for example, cues and prompts, multiple examples and non-examples, emphasising key elements)?

  3. How will I ensure all learners are able to access information and ideas and create new understandings (for example, prompts for sequence, organisation options, graduated scaffolds)?

  4. How will I support all students to remember information in order to apply learning to new situations (for example, checklists, mnemonic strategies, concept maps, explicit review)?

Source: Adapted from Questions to ask – UDL considerations, Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

UDL Strategies

This online resource provides suggestions and resources aligned to the UDL framework. Each checkpoint in the guidelines has a photo and description.

Readwritethink

This online resource offers a range of graphic organisers and online interactive tools for teachers.

Long story shortz – Visuals

Animated video on the value of using visuals to support learning.

Back to top

Enabling action and expression

The action and expression principle is concerned with how we plan, organise, create, and demonstrate understanding. All students differ in the ways that they are able to navigate a learning environment and express what they know. They need access to multiple pathways and flexible supports.

A senior student describes the things teachers can do to set students up for success. He also outlines approaches that can create potential barriers to learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Suggestions and resources

Understand the strategic network (video)
Supporting action and expression

This video gives an overview of the strategic network and its link to planning and communication.

It introduces the three UDL guidelines that support the action and expression principle.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Understand the strategic network
The “how” of learning

Providing flexible opportunities for students to plan and demonstrate what they know.

The strategic networks of our brain are responsible for how we plan and perform tasks, and then how we communicate what we have learnt.

Examples of the strategic network in action include:

  • turning pages of books
  • controlling and manipulating pens and pencils
  • coordinating motor movements such as dancing, playing a sport, or learning an instrument
  • identifying goals
  • organising and making plans
  • self-monitoring and correcting actions.
The “how” of learning
Identify barriers

Ask: What might get in the way?

Some students in your class will face challenges within the following components of a task:

  • breaking down a task or goal
  • letter formation
  • following instructions
  • organising ideas
  • working with others
  • speaking in front of others
  • spelling
  • staying focussed
  • taking a test or timed assessment
  • solving problems
  • locating personal resources
  • physical access to materials and resources.

Use your knowledge of students to guide decisions about the supports and options you will make available to everyone.

Identify barriers
Summary (image)
Summary of action expression principle
Plan options for action and expression

Provide students with flexible and supported options for demonstrating understanding.

This means more than giving students choices. Instead it means scaffolding options and offering flexible pathways.

Source: CORE Education

Summary

Resources and downloads

UDL Strategies

This online resource provides suggestions and resources aligned to the UDL framework. Each checkpoint in the guidelines has a photo and description.

Overview (video)
Options to support action and interaction

This video introduces ways to support physical action.

It includes information on digital technologies such as speech-to-text and word prediction options.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Support flexible pathways (NZ) (video)
Digital technologies to support learning

Teacher, Ben Britton takes a universal approach and introduces all students to text-to-speech tools.

Students can decide if and when they want to use them.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Support flexible pathways (NZ)
Impact of tools for access (NZ) (video)
Technology as an on ramp

Teva, a Year 5 student, shares how a netbook and collaborative online environments have made a difference to his learning.

The barrier of writing with pencil has been removed and writing is not seen as a chore.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Impact of tools for access (NZ)
Minimise barriers (NZ) (video)
Equitable access

A high school student describes the benefits of using technology for writing.

Using Word allows him to demonstrate his learning and keep up with his peers.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Minimise barriers (NZ)
Reflection questions

 

  • How will I reduce barriers to learning required by motor demands of a task (for example, physical manipulatives and technologies, marking with pen and pencil, mouse control, keyboard)?
  • What alternatives can I offer to support interaction with learning materials (for example, voice recognition tools, keyboards, touch screens, audio books)?
  • How will I ensure access to tools and technologies to provide support to navigate both physical space and curriculum (for example, keyboard commands for mouse action, customise overlays for touch screens)?
  • In what ways do I support speed, rate, and interaction time with materials for all my learners?

Source: Adapted from Questions to ask – UDL considerations, Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

Inclusive education guides for schools: Digital technologies

This guide suggests effective ways to integrate digital technologies into learning environments. It introduces tools and resources to support all learners

Text-to-speech – an on-ramp to literacy across the curriculum

A group of US high school students who have historically needed 1:1 support for literacy describe the difference having access to digital materials with text-to-speech has made to their independence, their confidence as learners, and to their increasing achievement.

Universal Design for Learning iPad strategies: Text-to-speech

A video introducing text-to-speech to access digital text. Developed by US educator Kit Hard.

Overview (video)
Provide alternative ways to share understanding

There are many ways to show what you know.

This video considers a range of tools that provide students with varied and responsive opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

View transcript

Source: SOOC (US)

Overview
Multimedia for communication (video)
Visual listening wall

Support communication with more than talking.

Deliberately design collaboration approaches using visuals and hands-on activities to maximise participation and understanding.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Edutopia (US)

Multimedia for communication
Offer physical and digital tools

 

Support access to a variety of tools and approaches giving students options in how they present and share their learning.

Visual tools and approaches:

  • drawings, graphics, infographics, posters, acrostics, comics
  • mural, display, timeline, collage, installation
  • board game, magazine, brochure, digital presentation
  • movie, storyboard, stop motion film, photographs, advert.

Auditory tools and approaches:

  • write and record songs, raps, slam poetry, jingles
  • voice avatar (Voki or Voicethread)
  • make a news report, podcast
  • conversation in social media (Twitter or Facebook)
  • publish a blog post, website
  • design a survey and interview, talk show, debate, lecture, questions for a trivia show
  • soundtrack to a novel, poem, time period, feeling.

Physical tools and approaches:

  • construct a model (for example, diorama), installation, sculpture
  • create a role play, skit, tableau, dance, puppet show, demonstration, costumes.

Source: Adapted from UDL Supporting diversity in BC schools

Offer physical and digital tools
Build in scaffolding (image)
Using Popplet to plan a story3
Support fluency

Offer tools such as Popplet to plan stories, document, and connect ideas.

Select tools that support students to link ideas together and organise them in different ways.

Source: Ministry of Education

Build in scaffolding
Reflection questions

 

  1. To reduce media-specific barriers to expression, how will I ensure students have alternative media for expression (for example, compose using text, speech, illustration, music)?

  2. Would alternative or digital tools (such as spell-checkers, calculators, manipulatives) increase students’ ability to express knowledge?

  3. What will I do to ensure learners have access to  different ways of communicating ideas – audio, visual, mathematical, reading, and so on (for example, use different models, approaches, strategies; prompts for categorising; checklists)?

Source: Adapted from Questions to ask – UDL considerations, Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

Tihei

In this video Tihei, Auckland songwriter and rapper illustrates the importance of being given opportunities to share ideas in multiple ways.

Show what you know

An infographic from Tony Gear with links to online and mobile tools for showing, explaining, and retelling.

UDL Support resources

A collection of tools and resources aligned with the nine Universal Design for Learning guidelines to help teachers select tools that meet the diverse needs of learners

Overview (video)
Support self management and planning

This video introduces different options to support students’ planning, goal setting, and managing of time.

It includes information on planning templates, frameworks, and graphic organisers.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Short Supported Open Online Course (US)

Overview
Guide goal setting (image)
Graphic organisers
Offering a range of tools and supports

Provide students with strategies to break down goals and determine the steps needed to achieve their goals.

Explore practical UDL strategies in the Goalbook toolkit.

Source: Cherie Le Quesne, Karori Normal School

Guide goal setting
Support self management

 

  1. Use charts, visual calendars, colour coded schedules, visible timers, and cues to increase the predictability of regular activities and transitions.

  2. Encourage students to use their mobile devices to schedule alerts and reminders for regular and novel events and task deadlines.

  3. Offer stickies to remind students of tasks or what to do next.

  4. Teach mnemonics to prompt memory and the retrieval of important concepts or approaches they can use.

  5. Model and make available graphic organisers and flow charts to support planning and thinking in all curriculum areas.

  6. Break tasks and lengthy assignments into small manageable parts. Schedule workflow using tools such as Trello to organise what needs to be done and when.

  7. Provide options so that students can submit work online.

Source: Supporting planning and organisation

Support self management
Monitor personal progress (NZ) (video)
Utilise digital tools

In a Year 4 class Google spreadsheets are used allowing students to plan their own learning.

Ownership for the order of tasks and priority for when they are completed is handed over to the student.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Monitor personal progress (NZ)
Reflection questions

 

 

  1. How will I support students to set reasonable learning goals to extend themselves (for example, prompts, scaffold efforts, model examples of process and product, checklists)?

  2. What tools do the students need to reach their goals (for example, embed prompts to stop and think, show and explain work, portfolio review, checklists, templates)?

  3. How will I support students to organise information (for example, graphic organisers and templates, prompts for categorizing, checklists)?

  4. What tools will I provide to support student thinking (for example, concept maps, apps, graphic organisers)?

  5. How will I provide explicit, informative, and timely feedback that supports learners in monitoring their progress and guiding their efforts (for example, questions, progress reporting/documenting, rubrics)?

Source: Adapted from Questions to ask – UDL considerations, Arizona Department of Education

Reflection questions

Resources and downloads

Seven ideas for student reflection

Seven simple ideas to get your students reflecting on their own thinking and learning.

7 Things to remember about feedback

In this infographic educators and researchers share valuable insights about what feedback is (and isn’t) and how feedback works to improve learning.

UDL Strategies

This online resource provides suggestions and resources aligned to the UDL framework. Each checkpoint in the guidelines has a photo and description.

Three brain-based teaching strategies to build executive function in students

This is a blog post that provides some teaching strategies to help build executive function in your students.

Back to top

Planning using UDL in primary settings

Use UDL to help you take a strategic approach to planning for learner variability. Recognise where your practice is already aligned with the guidelines. Investigate areas to increase flexibility and minimise barriers to learning. 

Follow the UDL thinking cycle when you plan an event or activity or design a system or process.

Get to know learners and use that knowledge and the UDL principles to inform your flexible design.

 

Suggestions and resources

Tips from educators

There is no one way to get started with UDL. Start small – take an inquiry approach.

  • Identify a specific challenge or need and approach it using the UDL thinking cycle.
  • Think about a single lesson or part of a lesson and make small changes.
  • Explore the application of one guideline across the curriculum.
  • Ask students what could help them – have them be partners in the learning. 
  • Introduce students to the principles and learn together – trial something new, evaluate it together, and refine it.
  • Take one principle, such as representation – consider how you can offer more options to support understanding.

Source: Adapted from UDL on Campus: Getting started

Tips from educators
Teacher perspectives (NZ) (video)
Support understanding with small, manageable steps

Teachers at Karori Normal School share their experiences of beginning to implement UDL in their classrooms.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Teacher perspectives (NZ)
Using the Guidelines (NZ) (video)
Making sense of the guidelines

Chrissie Butler walks through the UDL Guidelines. 

She describes how teachers can make the best use of them when planning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Using the Guidelines (NZ)
Put UDL lens on an activity (image)
Using the 3 UDL principles
Using the principles

Use the three principles to plan an activity. Identify supports and options you can build in at the outset and offer to all learners.

Here's an an example to review. Download the template for your own use.

Source: Ministry of Education

Put UDL lens on an activity

Resources and downloads

Key questions to consider with considering planning

Nine UDL questions from CAST to use when planning a lesson. The questions sit under the three principles.

5 steps to getting started with UDL

Five steps teachers can use to design lessons using Universal Design for Learning.

Start small: A UDL Q&A with Loui Lord Nelson

An interview with UDL facilitator Loui Lord Nelson, author of Design and Deliver. In this blog post she shares tips for getting started with UDL in your classroom.

UDL interactive planning activity

An interactive example of what to consider when planning for variability, created by the Maryland State Department of Education with the support of John Hopkins University.

Getting started

Experienced implementers of UDL share their recommendations for getting started with UDL

Student-led design for diversity (NZ) (video)
Designing for learning and wellbeing

Support students to research options and test them out.

Discuss designing for differences in culture, language, mobility, learning, health, and gender. 

No captions or transcript available

Source: EDtalks (NZ)

Student-led design for diversity (NZ)
Design for personalisation (NZ) (video)
Ensure spaces are responsive to needs

Anita Patel shares how UDL has influenced her classroom practice.

She describes the changes she has made to her environment, planning, and gathering of student voice.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Design for personalisation (NZ)
Provide comfortable furnishing (image)
Students working on mini whiteboards
Purposeful flexible options

Physical environments don’t need to be new to be flexible.

Often the simplest resources will support accelerated learning if students are given the agency to personalise the environment.

Source: Ministry of Education

Provide comfortable furnishing
Inclusive design online

UDL principles can be applied to the design of online environments, for example:

Engagement: reducing anxiety to promote engagement.
Example: Regularly touch base with students through Google comments or messaging.

Representation: using multiple examples to activate prior knowledge.
Example: Students post examples of what they know already in a Padlet using text, image, video, audio, and web page links.

Action and Expression: supporting understanding of content.
Example: Use narrated video to clarify steps involved in an activity or learning task.

Inclusive design online
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we have:

  • included student voice in the design of the learning environment 
  • considered all our learners and identified any potential barriers in the environment, resources, materials, and tools we use
  • created flexible spaces that can be changed and rearranged based on student needs and preferences at that time
  • asked students what would help in their learning.


Students:

  • can choose different spaces to work in
  • are able to personalise and customise digital content
  • are given choices related to what they learn, how they learn, and how they demonstrate their learning.
Self reflection

Resources and downloads

5 ways to improve student voice and choice

Five practical suggestions to support student engagement in the classroom through student voice and choice.

UDL Virtual tour

An interactive 360 deg tour of a high school classroom to see every day examples of UDL. To navigate through the classroom, click and drag the mouse to the left or right. Click on hotspots and magnifying glasses to zoom in on specific examples. Use the map to locate and see a brief description of each UDL support.

Innovative learning environments: CORE white paper

The design of inclusive ILEs is considered in this white paper by Mark Osborne of CORE Education.

Purposeful goals (NZ) (video)
Build learner engagement

Students at Halswell School share their experience of goal setting.

They are supported by time for self reflection, learning journals, options for workshops, and feedback from others.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Purposeful goals (NZ)
Share goals in multiple ways (image)
Student and teacher looking at pictures of steps in a learning process
Access for everyone

Provide options to support learner variability, offering multiple representations including:

  • video
  • auditory
  • handouts
  • online
  • spoken.
Share goals in multiple ways
Support planning and action

Students need consistent, small, and meaningful reminders to help them set goals, organise and make a plan.

Suggestions for supporting goal setting and self monitoring

  • Provide models or examples of the process.
  • Teach students how to plan.
  • Provide guides and checklists for scaffolding goal-setting.
  • Post goals, objectives, and schedules in an obvious place.
  • Involve students in creating what the outcome might look like.
  • Break the process up into small steps with visual, video, and verbal supports. 
  • Offer problem solving checklists.

Explore more practical suggestions on Goalbook Toolkit.

Source: Design and deliver

Support planning and action
Separate goals from means

Design explicit outcomes offering flexible options for achievement

Example task: Write a report about ways to increase bird life at school.

It is two tasks in one: write a report and demonstrate understanding about bird life in the local area.

When setting goals (intentions):

  • identify the purpose and what will be assessed
  • where possible, separate the goal from the means and offer students flexible ways to demonstrate understanding
  • if a skill such as “write” is included in the goal, ensure that you offer supports such as text-to-speech, graphic organisers, word prediction, and so on.

Source: Adapted from Goal-based design and the BC curriculum

Separate goals from means
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we have:

  • presented learning goals and objectives in varied and flexible ways to support engagement and understanding
  • clearly specified the intent of the goal
  • ensured the means for achieving the goals and objectives are separated from the stated goals and objectives
  • offered varied and flexible pathways to success.


Students:

  • can summarise their learning goals in their own words
  • know why the activity is of value
  • don’t confuse the goal with the means of achieving it
  • understand that there is not one specific way to achieve a goal.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL Curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Top 10 UDL tips for developing learning goals

A downloadable PDF from CAST with ten tips about learning goals from a UDL perspective

Student reflection and goal setting

A reflective blog post with useful reflections and video example around student reflection and prompts for teachers

Students’ experiences of UDL (NZ) (video)
Designing learning that motivates

Students share why having built in flexibility, choice, and ownership over learning pathways supports their motivation and engagement in learning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Students’ experiences of UDL (NZ)
Use multiple approaches

Consider the diverse needs of all students from the outset

Use a variety of teaching methods to meet the varied needs of all students.
Seek student feedback on which approaches they prefer and why.

Consider:

  1. social and collaborative learning

  2. student-directed/teacher-directed learning

  3. independent learning

  4. project work

  5. direct instruction.

Use multiple approaches
Communicate in multiple ways (image)
DSC 0207
Build understanding

Use a range of communication approaches that offer flexible and personalised ways of acquiring information and knowledge.

Support with multiple representations: for example, manipulatives, visuals, video.

Source: Ministry of Education

Communicate in multiple ways
Know your learner

To plan learning experiences that will give all students opportunities to make connections to new concepts, teachers need to understand what each student brings to their learning.

This involves gathering and analysing a wide range of data – not just about achievement but also information derived from observations of learners and conversations with them and with their peers, families, and whānau

Source: NZ Curriculum update: The principle of high expectations

Know your learner
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements, then ask students to share their perspectives

I/we have:

  • activated background knowledge and drawn attention to critical features in varied and flexible ways
  • ensured students have the supports, options, and challenges they need to demonstrate their understanding in ways that work for them
  • provided a flexible physical and online environment for learning which students are encouraged to personalise
  • offered multiple opportunities for students to learn from and with others.

I/we have supported students to:

  • use their background knowledge to help them understand new ideas
  • demonstrate what they know in ways that work for them
  • personalise their learning environments
  • learn from and with their peers in multiple contexts.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL Curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Knowing my learners (Linda Ojala)

An online conversation with Silverstream School teacher, Linda Ojala, and other teachers about knowing your learners and using that knowledge – from the Universal Design for Learning Group in the Ministry of Education’s Virtual Learning Network.

Ask your students how you can become a better teacher

A blog post by Chrissie Butler from CORE Education. Chrissie provides questions and prompts for teachers to consider when designing learning environments.

Student Inventory

A collection of resources from Goalbook Toolkit based on gaining a better understanding of a student’s learning preferences, academic and personal interests, as well as personal background.

Student profiles

A resource from UDL British Columbia Schools providing information to support developing student profiles. It contains a video with teachers sharing strategies they use to get to know their students each year.

Becoming an educational experience designer

A student describes four steps that will help him learn to learn. He invites teachers to create flexible real world contexts for learning.

Bach-visual

This video is a visual representation of Bach's Toccata and Fugue. It provides an example of how a representation can support understanding and enable a learner to identify patterns in the music that they may not be able to recognise solely by listening.

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

This planning tool has been developed for teachers by the Ministry of Education. It is designed to assist with developing a classroom curriculum that works for all students, from the outset.

Utilising technologies (NZ) (video)
Supporting all learners

Primary teacher, Linda Ojala describes her inclusive approach to using digital technologies to meet the wide and varied needs of students in her Year 3 class.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Utilising technologies (NZ)
Increase flexibility of content

Digital text can be:

  1. adjusted so that the style, size, and colour of fronts are the best fit for the student

  2. converted to speech using text-to-speech tools, these can help students who need support with reading, prefer to listen to information rather than (or in addition to) looking at it, or who use it to help with editing

  3. hyperlinked to definitions and background information; these can help students with new vocabulary, with comprehension, and can provide background knowledge when the subject is unfamiliar

  4. easily linked to and from online environments and documents

  5. accessed collaboratively, edited anytime or anywhere.

Increase flexibility of content
Offer options for expression (image)
student planning work with ipad, pen, and paper
Plan for learner variability

Having flexible materials and tools allows Daniel to learn and participate in a way that works best for him.

He prefers to plan on paper and then do his writing digitally.

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Offer options for expression
Text to speech (image)
Screen Shot 2016 08 29 at 4.52.44 PM
Listening to text

When text is digital, all students can choose to access it using text-to-speech tools.

Text-to-speech is often built into devices or can be added to a browser, for example Read and Write for Google.

Text to speech
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we have provided:

  • varied accessible media to present concepts and content
  • graphic organisers, rubrics, checklists, templates with varying amounts of content to help students to organise and document thinking
  • materials and media designed with varied levels of challenge and support to help students monitor their own progress 
  • materials and media are relevant to students' lives, helping them make personal connections.

Students

  • select media and materials that support their understanding
  • use organising tools to help them understand content and concepts and to keep track of their progress
  • have the right amount of support
  • reflect on their own learning and are successful in seeking help
  • connect to the materials and media as relevant to them.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Multiple means of representation

The power of three is a guide for providing students access to ideas, concepts, and themes in multiple ways.

Do’s and don’ts on designing for accessibility

A set of six posters with general guidelines for designing accessible web content. These posters are also useful considerations for general classroom planning and content design.

Free technology toolkit for UDL in all classrooms

A collection of free tools and resources, aligned to Universal Design for Learning approach, that support students in their learning.

UDL Strategies

This online resource provides suggestions and resources aligned to the UDL framework. Each checkpoint in the guidelines has a photo and description.

Readwritethink

This online resource offers a range of graphic organisers and online interactive tools for teachers.

Long story shortz – Visuals

Animated video on the value of using visuals to support learning.

Design assessments with UDL

The important thing about getting an accurate assessment is to universally design it and make sure that we’re actually measuring what we’re hoping to measure,

so to do that we have to use alternatives, multiple assignments, multiple forms of a test so that every student gets a fair and accurate assessment.

Source: David Rose
Design assessments with UDL
Minimise threats and barriers (NZ) (video)
Provide flexible options

Tyler describes how he used to feel about assessment tasks before he got his laptop.

He shares his relief at being able to express his understanding.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Minimise threats and barriers (NZ)
Assessment accessibility

Supporting understanding of assessment

When designing assessment consider the potential barriers for students in accessing and understanding the format and content.

Consider barriers within or created by:

  1. text heavy assessments

  2. multiple choice assessments (paper-based or online)

  3. online assessments

  4. time restrictions

  5. writing tools

  6. unfamiliar layout

  7. length of assessment

  8. size and organisation of spaces and boxes to record in

  9. use of graphics, colour, and fonts.

Assessment accessibility
Options for expressing learning

Design and shape assessment so that teaching and learning is meaningful and meets the needs of your students.

Offer a range of flexible options for students to show what they know through:

  1. student portfolios

  2. systems where students are involved in keeping tack of their own learning

  3. self assessments

  4. peer assessments

  5. surveys

  6. checklists and regular check in times

  7. journals and learning stories

  8. video or audio recordings.

Options for expressing learning
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we ensure assessments

  • evaluate the knowledge and skills that are directly related to learning goals and expectations
  • are accessible, flexible, ongoing, and used to inform teaching and learning
  • provide multiple means for students to express their thinking
  • are co-constructed with students whenever possible
  • are supported with the tools and approaches students need to be successful (for example, text-to-speech, Reader and/or Writer, digital version, additional time).

My students

  • understand that assessment is directly related to lesson goals
  • understand that assessment is ongoing and helps them achieve their learning goals
  • choose their preferred methods to demonstrate understanding and skills
  • help design assessments 
  • can each use the supports they need when being assessed, except when a support is directly tied to a learning goal.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL Curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Top 10 UDL tips for assessment

A assessment resource published by CAST, the Center of Assistive Technologies. It provides suggestions and questions on how can you use the UDL framework to design and reflect on assessments. This resource can be downloaded as a PDF.

Know students better: 15 tools for formative assessments

A selection of digital formative assessment tools that can be used for free. Tony Gear has written about 15. Most of these tools work with any web browser, so they can be used on laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones.

UDL: supporting diversity in British Columbia schools

A web page with examples of assessment of learning, assessment for learning and assessment as learning. Teachers teachers discuss how they tackle the challenge of assessment in their classrooms.

Back to top

Planning using UDL in intermediate and secondary settings

Use UDL to help you take a strategic approach to planning for learner variability. Recognise where your practice is already aligned with the guidelines. Investigate areas to increase flexibility and minimise barriers to learning. 

Follow the UDL thinking cycle when you plan an event or activity or design a system or process.

Get to know learners and use that knowledge and the UDL principles to inform your flexible design.

Suggestions and resources

Tips from educators

There is no one way to get started with UDL. Start small – take an inquiry approach.

  • Identify a specific challenge or need and approach it using the UDL thinking cycle.
  • Think about a single lesson or part of a lesson and make small changes.
  • Explore the application of one guideline across the curriculum.
  • Introduce students to the principles and learn together – trial something new, evaluate it together, and refine it.
  • Take one principle, such as representation – consider how you can offer more options to support understanding.
Tips from educators
Teacher perspectives (NZ) (video)
First steps

Teachers from Rototuna Junior High School describe how they got started with UDL and how it influenced their practice.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education inclusive education videos (NZ)

Teacher perspectives (NZ)
Using the Guidelines (NZ) (video)
Making sense of the guidelines

Chrissie Butler walks through the UDL Guidelines.

She describes how teachers can make the best use of them when planning.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Using the Guidelines (NZ)
Put a UDL lens on an activity (image)
Planning example
Using the principles

Use the three principles to plan an activity. Identify supports and options you can build in at the outset and offer to all learners.

Here's an an example to review. Download the template for your own use.

Source: Ministry of Education

Put a UDL lens on an activity

Resources and downloads

UDL Guidelines: Educator worksheet – version 2.0

Completed example of a teacher using CAST’s UDL guidelines - Educator worksheet to increase flexibility of lesson design and options and supports for students.

UDL examples in higher education

Four succinct illustrated examples of how teachers in a tertiary context addressed challenges in the classroom by applying UDL principles to the design of their lessons

Key questions to consider with considering planning

Nine UDL questions from CAST to use when planning a lesson. The questions sit under the three principles.

5 steps to getting started with UDL

Five steps teachers can use to design lessons using Universal Design for Learning.

Start small: A UDL Q&A with Loui Lord Nelson

An interview with UDL facilitator Loui Lord Nelson, author of Design and Deliver. In this blog post she shares tips for getting started with UDL in your classroom.

UDL interactive planning activity

An interactive example of what to consider when planning for variability, created by the Maryland State Department of Education with the support of John Hopkins University.

Personalised learning: A guide for engaging students with technology

This book provides the essential information needed to implement personalized learning with technology and concludes with a step-by-step guide to planning, funding, and implementing a personalised learning program.

Getting started

Experienced implementers of UDL share their recommendations for getting started with UDL

Student-led design (NZ) (video)
Designing for all

Support students to research options and test them out. 

Discuss designing for differences in culture, language, mobility, learning, health, and gender.

No captions or transcript available

Source: Edtalks (NZ)

Student-led design (NZ)
Expecting variability (image)
Alfriston College – teacher and students
Planning for all

Inclusive environments are responsive to our varying need to “work together or alone, in silence or with noise, standing or sitting, passively or actively, with technology and without it, indoors and outdoors” (Osborne, 2016).

Source: Ministry of Education

Expecting variability
Form fits function (image)
Ōtorohanga College
Ensure spaces are responsive to needs

Often the simplest resources will support accelerated learning if students are given the agency to personalise the environment.

Source: Ministry of Education

Form fits function
Inclusive online design

UDL principles can be applied to the design online teaching and learning environments

Engagement: reducing anxiety to promote engagement.
Example: Regularly touch base with students through Google comments or messaging.

Representation: using multiple examples to activate prior knowledge.
Example: Students post examples of what they know already in a Padlet using text, image, video, audio, and web page links.

Action and Expression: supporting understanding of assignments.
Example: Use narrated video to clarify steps involved in an assignment.

Source: Adapted from UDL on campus by CAST

Inclusive online design
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we have:

  • included student voice in the design of the learning environment 
  • considered all our learners and identified any potential barriers in the environment, resources, materials, and tools we use
  • created flexible spaces that can be changed and rearranged based on student needs and preferences at that time
  • asked students what would help in their learning
  • modelled the use of assistive and general technologies.

Students:

  • can choose different spaces to work in
  • are able to personalise and customise digital content
  • are given choices related to what they learn, how they learn, and how they demonstrate their learning
  • are given support to use assistive and general technologies.
Self reflection

Resources and downloads

5 ways to improve student voice and choice

Five practical suggestions to support student engagement in the classroom through student voice and choice.

UDL Virtual tour

An interactive 360 deg tour of a high school classroom to see every day examples of UDL. To navigate through the classroom, click and drag the mouse to the left or right. Click on hotspots and magnifying glasses to zoom in on specific examples. Use the map to locate and see a brief description of each UDL support.

Innovative learning environments: CORE white paper

The design of inclusive ILEs is considered in this white paper by Mark Osborne of CORE Education.

UDL in higher education

This online community provides an overview of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and how it applies to higher education, learning environments, and additional resources for deeper understanding. It also offers practical information about getting started.

Separate goals from means

Design explicit outcomes offering flexible options for achievement

Example of a task: Write a report about how ways to increase birdlife at school.

It is two tasks in one: write a report and demonstrate understanding about birdlife in the local area.

When setting goals (intentions):

  • identify the purpose and what will be assessed
  • where possible, separate the goal from the means and offer students flexible ways to demonstrate understanding
  • if a skill such as “write” is included in the goal, ensure that you offer supports such as text-to-speech, graphic organisers, word prediction, and so on.

Source: Adapted from Goal-based design and the BC curriculum

Separate goals from means
Support individual goal setting

Give students consistent, small and meaningful reminders to help them set goals, organise themselves, and make a plan.

Provide models or examples of the process.
Teach students how to plan.

  • Provide guides and checklists for scaffolding goal-setting.
  • Post goals, objectives, and schedules in an obvious place.
  • Involve students in creating what the outcome might look like.
  • Break the process up into small steps with visual, video, and verbal supports. 
  • Offer problem solving checklists.

Explore more practical suggestions on Goalbook Toolkit.

Source: Design and deliver

Support individual goal setting
Increase relevance and authenticity (NZ) (video)
Connect learning to life beyond school

Wayne Robinson outlines how he ensures students understand the purpose of a task and how it connects to real life.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education inclusive education (NZ)

Increase relevance and authenticity (NZ)
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we have:

  • presented learning goals and intentions in varied and flexible ways to support engagement and understanding
  • clearly specified the intent of the goal
  • ensured the means for achieving the goals are separated from the stated goals and objectives
  • offered varied, flexible, and supported pathways to success.

Students:

  • can summarise their learning goals in their own words
  • know why an activity is of value
  • don’t confuse the goal with the means of achieving it
  • understand that there is not one specific way to achieve a goal.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL Curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Top 10 UDL tips for developing learning goals

A downloadable PDF from CAST with ten tips about learning goals from a UDL perspective

Student reflection and goal setting

A reflective blog post with useful reflections and video example around student reflection and prompts for teachers

Ask students what can help (NZ) (video)
Gather feedback from students to inform design

Katrina, a high school student with Down syndrome, makes recommendations for teachers that could be useful for all students.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education, inclusive education videos (NZ)

Ask students what can help (NZ)
Offer online options (NZ) (video)
Flexible learning with Google sites

Noelene Dunn uses Google sites to provide her students with learning pathways and content they can personalise to suit preferences.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling e-Learning (NZ)

Offer online options (NZ)
Teach for diversity (NZ) (video)
Planning for success for every student

Wayne Robinson talks about how he expects and plans for the diversity in his classroom.

He describes how he designs learning so that everyone succeeds.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Ministry of Education inclusive education videos (NZ)

Teach for diversity (NZ)
Design for engagement (NZ) (video)
Authentic and personalised spaces

Wayne Robinson describes how the design of the physical environment "needs to be conducive to you making a connection".

 

Closed captioning available in player

Design for engagement (NZ)
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements, then ask students to share their perspectives

I/we have:

  • activated background knowledge and drawn attention to critical features in varied and flexible ways
  • ensured students have the supports, options, and challenges they need to demonstrate their understanding in ways that work for them
  • provided a flexible physical and online environment for learning which students are encouraged to personalise
  • offered multiple opportunities for students to learn from and with others.


I/we have supported students to:

  • use their background knowledge to help them understand new ideas
  • demonstrate what they know in ways that work for them
  • personalise their learning environments
  • learn from and with their peers in multiple contexts.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Lesson: Equivalent fractions and decimals review

A detailed text-based example of how a teacher refined a lesson following an introduction to UDL. The lesson demonstrates how the teacher could build and refine current effectives practices to increase options and supports for all learners.

Knowing my learners (Linda Ojala)

An online conversation with Silverstream School teacher, Linda Ojala, and other teachers about knowing your learners and using that knowledge – from the Universal Design for Learning Group in the Ministry of Education’s Virtual Learning Network.

Ask your students how you can become a better teacher

A blog post by Chrissie Butler from CORE Education. Chrissie provides questions and prompts for teachers to consider when designing learning environments.

Student Inventory

A collection of resources from Goalbook Toolkit based on gaining a better understanding of a student’s learning preferences, academic and personal interests, as well as personal background.

Student profiles

A resource from UDL British Columbia Schools providing information to support developing student profiles. It contains a video with teachers sharing strategies they use to get to know their students each year.

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

This planning tool has been developed for teachers by the Ministry of Education. It is designed to assist with developing a classroom curriculum that works for all students, from the outset.

Offer flexible materials (NZ) (video)
Multiple pathways to learning

Ben Britton describes how digital technologies can be used to build options and supports into the learning environment.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Enabling eLearning Ministry of Education (NZ)

Offer flexible materials (NZ)
Benefits of digital text

Digital text is valuable because it can be:

  1. adjusted so that the style, size, and colour of fonts are the best fit for the student

  2. converted to speech using text­-to­-speech tools

  3. hyperlinked to definitions and background information

  4. illustrated with moving images and images from own context

  5. highlighted, annotated, and underlined to guide the reader’s attention

  6. easily linked to and from other online environments and documents

  7. accessed and collaboratively edited 24/7.

Benefits of digital text
Text to speech (image)
Screen Shot 2016 08 29 at 4.52.44 PM
Listening to text

When text is digital, all students can choose to access it using text-to-speech tools.

Tex-to-speech is often built into devices or can be added to a browser, for example Read and Write for Google.

Text to speech
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we have provided:

  • varied accessible media to present concepts and content
  • graphic organisers, rubrics, checklists, and templates with varying amounts of content to help students to organise and document thinking
  • materials and media designed with varied levels of challenge and support to help students monitor their own progress 
  • materials and media are relevant to students' lives, helping them make personal connections.


Students

  • select media and materials that support their understanding
  • use organising tools to help them understand content and concepts and to keep track of their progress
  • have the right amount of support
  • reflect on their own learning and are successful in seeking help
  • connect to the materials and media as relevant to them.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Multiple means of representation

The power of three is a guide for providing students access to ideas, concepts, and themes in multiple ways.

Do’s and don’ts on designing for accessibility

A set of six posters with general guidelines for designing accessible web content. These posters are also useful considerations for general classroom planning and content design.

Free technology toolkit for UDL in all classrooms

A collection of free tools and resources, aligned to Universal Design for Learning approach, that support students in their learning.

UDL Strategies

This online resource provides suggestions and resources aligned to the UDL framework. Each checkpoint in the guidelines has a photo and description.

Readwritethink

This online resource offers a range of graphic organisers and online interactive tools for teachers.

Long story shortz – Visuals

Animated video on the value of using visuals to support learning.

Design assessments with students (NZ) (video)
Supporting engagement

Wayne Rangiruna describes the impact of student–teacher collaboration in assessment design.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: Te Kotahitanga (NZ)

Design assessments with students (NZ)
Assessment fit for purpose

NCEA is flexible

Design assessments to suit the nature of the learning being assessed, as well as the varied characteristics and experiences of the students. Tailor-make assessment tasks rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.

Consider:

  • multiple forms of assessment, for example, demonstration, video, audio, poster, written, multiple choice
  • active reflection – students spend time, individually and together, considering how they can demonstrate their learning
  • what supports are needed to enable all students to have equal access, for example, screen reader, reader writer, more time
  • student needs when giving feedback, for example, comments on Google Docs, face-to-face, videoing and analysing assessment tasks together – this could include: dance, drama, music, speeches. 
  • available exemplars with explanation and examples of what achieved, merit, and excellence looks like, for example, annotate NZQA assessments so they are meaningful for your students.

Source: Ministry of Education (2014)

Assessment fit for purpose
Support success in assessments

Discuss with students what support they need to demonstrate their understanding in assessments.

Consider:

  1. possible barriers hidden in the physical environment, for example, unfamiliar layout of room, lighting, temperature

  2. possible barriers hidden in the resources and materials, for example, cluttered presentation, hard-to read diagrams, unclear layout, hard-copy only

  3. approaches to managing time allocations, such as calendar tools and visual timers

  4. approaches to managing anxiety

  5. approaches to maintaining concentration

  6. negotiating breaks

  7. use of digital technologies such as text-to-speech and predictive text

  8. pre-teaching specific assessment/exam skills such as how to approach multiple choice questions

  9. identify whether SAC application needs to be made for NCEA.

Support success in assessments
Align design to UDL (video)
Design for variability

This video outlines potential barriers or challenges students may face that are unrelated to what is being assessed.

Closed captioning available in player

Source: CAST – Centre of Special Technologies (US)

Align design to UDL
Self reflection

Reflect on the following statements. Ask students to share their perspectives.

I/we ensure assessments:

  • evaluate the knowledge and skills that are directly related to learning goals and expectations
  • are accessible, flexible, ongoing, and used to inform teaching and learning
  • provide multiple means for students to express their thinking
  • are co-constructed with students whenever possible
  • are supported with the tools and approaches students need to be successful, for example, text to speech, Reader and/or Writer, digital version, additional time.

My students:

  • understand that assessment is directly related to lesson goals
  • understand that assessment is ongoing and helps them achieve their learning goals
  • choose their preferred methods to demonstrate understanding and skills
  • help design assessments 
  • can each use the supports they need when being assessed, except when a support is directly tied to a learning goal.

Source: Adapted from CAST UDL curriculum self-check

Self reflection

Resources and downloads

Top 10 UDL tips for assessment

A assessment resource published by CAST, the Center of Assistive Technologies. It provides suggestions and questions on how can you use the UDL framework to design and reflect on assessments. This resource can be downloaded as a PDF.

Know students better: 15 tools for formative assessments

A selection of digital formative assessment tools that can be used for free. Tony Gear has written about 15. Most of these tools work with any web browser, so they can be used on laptops, iPads, Chromebooks, tablets, and smartphones.

UDL: supporting diversity in British Columbia schools

A web page with examples of assessment of learning, assessment for learning and assessment as learning. Teachers teachers discuss how they tackle the challenge of assessment in their classrooms.

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