Design for Each and Every Learner: Universal Design for Learning Modules

UDL Modules: Coaching Guide

The Big Picture

Designing inclusive instruction takes intentional planning and collaboration. To support this work, CAST, the TIES Center, and the Lake Washington School District developed a series of modules for a team to learn about Universal Design for Learning (UDL). These UDL modules provide an overview of how UDL can be a tool to design inclusive and equitable learning experiences for each and every learner, including students with significant cognitive disabilities. 

This guide was developed to support coaches and other leaders as they facilitate a team through the UDL modules. In this guide, you will find strategies to get started, specific goals and agenda items for each UDL module, a list of frequently asked questions, and some general coaching tips. Ultimately, we hope this guide will support the development of inclusive instructional practices for each and every learner in your site.

Getting Started

To prepare to facilitate a learning experience with the UDL modules, we recommend taking these initial steps: 

  • Clarify your goals for having your team work with the UDL modules. 
  • Become familiar with the UDL module content, structure, and resources. 
  • Build your team.
  • Plan for the variability of your team. 

1. Clarify Your Goals for the UDL Module Work 

The goal of the UDL modules is to increase inclusive practices for all students in a classroom, including students with significant cognitive disabilities. This includes students who would be eligible for the state alternate assessment based on alternate academic achievement standards. This population often includes students with labels such as intellectual disabilities, autism, multiple disabilities, and deaf-blind with significant support needs. 

Through learning about UDL in the modules, team members can plan and collaborate to develop inclusive strategies into instruction. 

Reflect on your goals for working through the UDL modules with a team. Meet with other coaches or leaders to discuss the overarching vision for the UDL Module work: 

  • What is the vision for your site to develop inclusive practices? 
  • Take time to analyze data to determine where students may not be fully included in learning experiences. Understanding where your site has the opportunity for growth and progress for equitable instruction can be a powerful inspiration for participating in the UDL module work.
  • How does this UDL work align with your site’s mission/vision? 
  • What is the social justice connection for this work? 

UDL Modules in Action: Clarify Your Goals

In the spring of 2021, the Lake Washington School District, in collaboration with the TIES Center and CAST, implemented these UDL modules. The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) is located east of Seattle and covers 76 square miles. LWSD is the public school district for the cities of Kirkland, Redmond and part of Sammamish. They serve over 30,000 students PreK-12 at 56 schools and are committed to inclusive and equitable educational practices.  Their district vision is “Every Student, Future Ready.”

The goal was to create a professional development on UDL that would address the inequity and evidence of disproportionality that was preventing their “future ready” vision.  In the kickoff meeting, a leader from Lake Washington School District clarified the goals for their UDL module work by specifically citing data from their district. 

“If you are a Latinx student in our district, you are almost 5 times as likely to be identified as having a learning disability. You are also less likely to graduate (83.8 compared to 94.2). Latinx students demonstrate lower attendance rates and higher exclusionary discipline rates. Is the problem inherent to Latinx students? Or do we need to change our environment?”  

 Sharing data with their team during the UDL module Kickoff provided a strong rationale for the focus of their work and set the expectation that the team would work to use UDL as a tool to help them design learning environments to support each and every student and to address disproportionality in their various roles in the district. 

How can you connect your district initiative to this professional development?

2. Become Familiar with the UDL Module Content, Structure, and Resources

Become familiar with the UDL module content, structure, and resources to be prepared to facilitate the learning for your team. 

The content in the UDL modules is organized into four modules that can be explored flexibly, depending on the timing and needs of your site. Your team can build understanding of the key concepts using the range of media and resources that are included in each module. There are focus questions and goals for each section that can help drive the selection of the media and resources. Your team members can skip what they may already know, review and revisit materials as is helpful. All of the content is available online, so your team can engage in asynchronous, face-to-face, or hybrid learning and discussion opportunities.

The UDL module content is organized into four modules:

  • Module 1, the “why” of UDL, including the vision of UDL, expert learning, learner variability, and clear goals and flexible pathways
  • Module 2, the “what” of UDL, including the UDL Guidelines, UDL Framework, and accessibility
  • Module 3, the “how” of inclusive instruction with UDL, including the UDL design process and the 5-15-45 collaboration tool
  • Module 4, “beyond the lesson”, including a look at UDL implementation and systems change across a site and UDL alignment to other work or initiatives

The four UDL modules have a consistent structure to help you and your team learn about UDL, try an aspect of UDL in your context, and reflect on your UDL learning experiences. The “Try It” opportunity is a way to start to build a repository of examples of “UDL in action” from your site. Each module structure includes:

  • Introduction: The Introduction section highlights the key concepts for that module. In the last two modules, there is also a review of key concepts.
  • Build Background: The Build Background section provides multiple ways to learn the key ideas and foundational concepts. There is always one recommended resource for everyone to review. Then, there are options for resources that individuals can select from to learn more about the key ideas. The focus questions help direct attention to key ideas and there are time markers to help planning and resource selection.  
  • Try It: The best way to learn how to implement UDL is by trying it. Through applying the key ideas and concepts to your work, team members can begin to build out their own examples of how UDL was designed into instruction to meet the needs of all learners, including students with significant cognitive disabilities. The Try It section is organized around goals, so whether you are a teacher, paraprofessional, principal, or another role in the school, there are action items you can take.
  • Reflect & Connect: We encourage reflection throughout each module to provide the opportunity to connect with colleagues and share take-aways, implementation ideas, and evidence of how the UDL approach is supporting inclusive student learning.
  • Dive Deeper: There are additional opportunities to learn more about each of the topics covered in the UDL modules. While no one set of curricular materials or resources will work for all individuals on your team, this section has resources that might align with specific interests, content areas, or burning questions. Busy professionals may quickly become overwhelmed by what they could be learning. Reassure your team that these resources are optional.

In addition to this consistent structure, there are optional resources embedded throughout the UDL modules to support the learning and collaboration. These include: 

  • Your UDL Journal is an option team members might use to record their ideas, key take-aways, application strategies, and reflection notes. As a coach, you may select certain parts of Your UDL Journal to use or provide this as an optional resource that your team members may use.
  • UDL Meet Ups are an option for synchronous sessions that you can schedule with your team to provide opportunities for collaboration and discussion for each module. Use this time to share what was learned and what inclusive strategies were tried in each UDL module. UDL Meet Ups can be used to collaboratively develop inclusive strategies for each and every learner. These UDL Meet Ups can be virtual, hybrid, or face to face and you can explore the UDL Meet Up slide example as an example you might modify to support your planning of synchronous collaborative opportunities.
  • Your Self-Check is an optional resource that allows educators to keep track of their growing knowledge, application, collaboration, planning, and time tracking throughout each module.

3. Build Your Team 

Having a vested team that is engaged in the learning can ensure the UDL modules have an impact on inclusive instructional practices. To build your team, have individuals who have volunteered, are invested in the vision of inclusion, and are willing to try out some new strategies in their instruction. This team can share how this work is having an impact on student learning. 

Developing inclusive systems and practices requires buy-in from professionals across divisions, disciplines, job titles, and even groups that may not have worked together at your site. While a large number of team members can progress through the UDL modules, we recommend having time for a small group discussion within each module to leverage professional learning for each team member. We also recommend selecting or having someone volunteer to be a UDL team leader (or co-leader). The UDL team leader(s) will facilitate the module work, including providing the overarching vision and goal, scheduling meeting times, sharing weekly communication and reminders, and monitoring progress. 

As you build your team, think about why and how your team members will engage with this work. Make a plan for fostering a safe learning environment for your team to take risks and try something new. Change can be challenging, and meeting the needs of all students can feel overwhelming at times. Building a team who is dedicated to this work can lay the foundation for success.

UDL Modules in Action: Build Your Team

The Lake Washington School District leadership determined that a team of 60 coaches and leaders would progress through the UDL modules together over 8 weeks during the summer. The team was composed of a combination of different roles, including general educators, special educators, administrators, paraprofessionals, and more.  One of the goals of this team was to take what they learned during these sessions and model UDL strategies during Lake Washington’s August district training.

They had a UDL module team leader volunteer to facilitate the learning. She served as the main contact for their professional learning, sent weekly progress reminder emails and links for the UDL modules, and coordinated the schedule for the UDL Meet Ups. 

The UDL team leader worked with the leadership team and determined that they would cover one UDL module every two weeks. 

  • The team spent the first-week building background and the second week on the Try It and Reflect and Connect sections. They continued this pattern for all four modules.
  • Participants used the UDL Journals to keep track of their learning. 
  • At the end of the second week, they held a one-and-a-half-hour virtual UDL Meet Up with the whole team so they could have the chance to share what they had learned and to discuss challenges they were facing. They shared inclusive ideas they had tried to implement and how those strategies could help meet the needs of all their students. The sessions were recorded in case some could not attend.

Here’s an example of the weekly email sent out by the team leader to remind the participants of the focus for the week and any events that were happening. 

Hi everyone!

Just a quick reminder that our first meeting for our UDL module series is scheduled for Thursday morning. We will be meeting (add location information). 

I’m looking forward to hearing what you learned about UDL, what you tried out in your classroom, and your reflection about how your lesson design is meeting the needs of all students. If it is helpful, here is the video from our last Meet Up (add link) and remember you can track your ideas in Your UDL Journal (add link).

Thank you! 

4. Proactively Bust Barriers 

Professional learning during the busy school year can be challenging. Consider how you can proactively anticipate and bust barriers for your diverse team members so that each and every individual can engage in the learning and build inclusive instructional strategies. UDL is a tool to intentionally design options to support the learning goals. Modeling how you implement UDL as you coach your team is a great way for your team to learn about UDL. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Create an inclusive and welcoming tone to your communications and Meet Ups. Bring food, provide opportunities to get to know each other and to enjoy the time. Work to ensure the schedule can include everyone.
  • Have clear expectations for the overarching work, as well as the individual sessions. At the start of each session, state the goals and provide opportunities for personal goal-setting.
  • Offer choices and model flexibility (i.e., in the timing or ways that they share). Use the UDL Guidelines to design flexible options in how participants can engage, build background, and implement strategies. 
  • Work with team members to provide helpful choices for their learning. For example, have a clear goal and share the 2-3 options that can be used to meet the goal. Highlight opportunities or considerations that may be important for individuals. For example, if you have a math teacher on your team, highlight the resources in the Dive Deeper section that call out mathematical content and learning.
  • Identify areas of strength and opportunity within your team. Consider individual needs and preferences by asking about where there might be barriers to learning in the UDL modules and what might be done to reduce those barriers in future modules or UDL Meet Ups.
  • Offer time for individual and group reflection. Some individuals will want to have one-on-one discussions about their learning and practice while others will prefer small group discussions. Some individuals will want you to review their “Your UDL Journal” and others will not. 
  • Know what success looks like. Continue to revisit the vision for inclusion that you have for your site. Note areas of progress and success toward that vision. 
  • Recognize that UDL is a mindset and takes time to implement. Celebrate the small successes and look for opportunities to make connections and alignment to other district work.
  • Celebrate success and honor the learning of your team. Change can be hard, especially when time and resources are limited. Provide the individuals on your team with reassurance as they move through the UDL modules. Take time during your final meetings to reflect on what your team accomplished. If possible, honor your team with completion certificates or badges.

Here are a few additional tips for you to consider in your planning: 

  • Establish a regular meeting time, so plans can be made to attend. It is recommended to meet at least once every two weeks. 
  • Have an agenda; start and end on time.
  • Become familiar with the materials and technology (i.e., review the site).
  • Establish a clear way to communicate and collaborate with the team (i.e., email or shared Google doc).

UDL Modules in Action: Proactively Bust Barriers 

The Lake Washington School District team had a clear vision for their staff to engage in the UDL modules. They shared their overarching goal to move all students in the district from separate educational settings to their local or neighborhood schools. 

  • They developed a weekly schedule to engage with the UDL modules and provided their participants with stipends to recognize and value their time. 
  • The UDL modules were open to all professionals and paraprofessionals in their elementary schools. Educators could volunteer to join the UDL professional learning team.
  • They got to know each other by engaging in small group conversations.
  • They provided flexible options for participants to engage in collaboration and sharing. They could share their UDL Journal with the team members or keep their UDL Journal private. 
  • During each UDL Meet Up, the UDL team leader continued to revisit the “why” of the work and aligned the UDL module content to work they were already doing in the district.
  • Before sharing as a large group, the participants had independent work time to add to their UDL Journal or to review their work. 

There were summaries of the small group conversations and key take-aways were shared with the larger team at the end of each UDL Meet Up. The sessions were recorded for anyone to review.

UDL Module Work

Now that you’ve taken time to prepare to lead your team through the UDL modules, it is time to gather your team and begin the UDL module work. This section contains suggestions for how to lead your team through a kickoff and each of the UDL modules. There are suggestions for how to set goals, plan agendas, gather relevant materials, and gain feedback from your teams. This is to make sure each module helps design inclusive and equitable learning experiences for each and every learner, including students with significant cognitive disabilities.

UDL Module Kickoff

The purpose of the UDL module Kickoff is to build enthusiasm and community and to develop a shared understanding of the goals and expectations for the UDL module work. By the end of the Kickoff, participants should know why they are engaged in the work, understand the structure of the UDL modules, and have time to learn how to access the resources and materials. 

Here is a sample agenda for a UDL module Kickoff session. Note that this Kickoff could be virtual, hybrid, or face to face and is approximately one to one and a half hours long.

  • Welcome and share introductions. (~10 min)
  • State the purpose: why UDL? Why now? What is important about this work for students with significant cognitive disabilities? (~10 min)
  • Work on your vision of inclusion and take time to share that vision for “all learners.” (~15 min)
  • Discuss data from your site around inclusion. What areas are you looking to improve?
  • Share an overview of the UDL module structure. (~10 min)
  • Provide time for the team to explore the UDL module site on their own. (~20 min) 
  • Open up time for discussion for the team to share concerns and questions. (~15 min)
  • Conclude with a quick look at Module 1 and time to complete  an exit ticket. (~10 min)

Here is a list of materials that may be useful for the UDL module Kickoff: 

  • What are you excited to learn about in the UDL modules?
  • In what ways do you want to work on your instructional design to be inclusive and equitable for each and every learner, including students with significant cognitive disabilities.
  • What barriers concern you for this UDL module work? 
  • What can we do to support your learning?

UDL Modules in Action: Kickoff

During the UDL module Kickoff from the Lake Washington School District, the UDL module team leader shared about expert learning using data from their site:

“We have almost 200 students assigned to 1:1 paraeducators, and this shows that we need to help our students with disabilities become expert learners. These students can become prompt dependent, therefore keeping them from reaching their full capacity. We also have secondary classes where less than 5% of a student’s grade is from homework or projects, and 95% is related to test performance. This indicates we are testing knowledge and memorization rather than considering how students become expert learners.” 

UDL Module 1 

The purpose of UDL Module 1 is to understand the overarching vision and goals of UDL. This includes:

  • the vision of UDL, with a focus on barriers in the environment;
  • characteristics of expert learning;
  • learner variability; and
  • the importance of clear goals and flexible pathways to achieve those goals.

Here is a sample agenda for a UDL module 1 Meet Up. Note that this UDL Meet Up  could be virtual, hybrid, or face to face and is approximately one to one and a half hours long.

  • Welcome and announcements. (~5 min)
  • Provide a summary of UDL Module 1. For example, you can highlight how UDL focuses on barriers in the learning environment, instead of trying to “fix” a learner. Variability is a key concept to understand, which includes understanding that we can anticipate and design for the full range of learners in our classrooms. We can do this by having clear goals and flexible pathways for students to achieve those goals. Goals are critically important for UDL. The vision of UDL is to develop expert learners, who are purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgeable, and strategic and goal-directed. (~5 min)
  • Offer individual work and reflection time to prepare for the breakout room discussion (~5 min). Encourage participants to use Your UDL Journal and to be prepared to discuss in the breakout rooms: 
  • Have small groups or break-out room discussions to discuss their responses, we suggest groups of 4-5. (~30 min)
  • Come back together and share important take-aways and answers to the questions as a whole group. (~20 min)
  • Discuss what’s coming next in Module 2 and have time for participants to fill out the exit ticket. (~10 min)

Here is a list of materials that may be useful for the UDL Module 1 Meet Up: 

  • a link to the UDL Module 1 
  • a UDL Meet Up slide example to modify to meet your needs for the UDL Meet Up
  • a link to Your UDL Journal for participants to make their own copy
  • Create an exit ticket to assess how the UDL Module 1 supported learning or where there were barriers. For example, you could use Google Forms or have a printed sheet for participants to fill out. 

    UDL Modules in Action: Module 1

    During the UDL module 1 Meet Up, the team leader from Lake Washington School District made connections to the UDL concept of learner variability using data from their site:

    “How many of you have worked in a district beside Lake Washington School ? Have any of you worked in a district with a population of students from lower socioeconomic status? How did your experience differ from Lake Washington School? In our district, we define average much differently than elsewhere. Students arrive on our doorsteps reading and writing their names. Students identified below average are tracked towards intervention and special education. Students identified above average are tracked to highly capable programs and in those programs, they simply teach a grade level above. This tracking shortchanges our students and denies them the opportunity to learn in the context of their general education classroom.”

    UDL Module 2

    The purpose of UDL Module 2 is to understand the UDL Guidelines , including: 

    • the structure of the UDL Guidelines and how can individuals get started using them,
    • how the UDL framework (goals, assessments, materials, methods) and UDL Guidelines align, and
    • ways to use UDL to ensure access for students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities.

    Here is a sample agenda for a UDL Module 2 Meet Up. Note that this UDL Meet Up could be virtual, hybrid, or face to face and is approximately 1-1.5 hours long.

    • Welcome and announcements. (~5 min)
    • Provide a summary of UDL Module 2. For example, you can provide an overview of the structure of the UDL Guidelines, including the vertical and horizontal organization. Highlight how educators can use the three UDL Principles in the goals, assessments, materials, and methods of any learning experience. Note how accessibility is a critical first step for UDL, as learners need to perceive, physically act, and be interested as the first step for learning. (~5 min)
    • Offer individual work and reflection time to prepare for the breakout room discussion (~5 min). Encourage participants to use Your UDL Journal and to be prepared to discuss in the breakout rooms: 
    • Have a small group or break-out room discussions focusing on those questions, we suggest groups of 4-5. (~30 min)
    • Come back together and share important take-aways and answers to the questions as a whole group. (~20 min)
    • Discuss what’s coming next in Module 3 and have time for participants to fill out the exit ticket. (~10 min)

    Here is a list of materials that may be useful for the UDL Module 2 Meet Up: 

    • Create an exit ticket to assess how the UDL module 2 supported learning or where there were barriers. For example, you could use Google Forms or have a printed sheet for participants to fill out. 

    UDL Modules in Action: Module 2 

    Here is an example of some of the discussion points from Lake Washington School District UDL module 2 Meet Up.

    Resources that resonated and why:

    • I liked the video of the teacher with ADHD (Eric Crouch video ) and how he struggled in school and is trying to break down barriers for students. It showed the importance of relinquishing control and giving that control to students. I think we need to explore why there is a fear of letting go of control. 
    • The UDL Teacher’s Guide resonated with me and gave me a step-by-step way to apply UDL.

    What you tried and observed:

    • I started to analyze the tools I am already using and think about why I was using them, not just using them for the sake of using them or to check off a box, but I thought about how they were supporting the learning goal. I want to make sure I make them available for all learners.
    • Accessibility resonated. We need to talk about options and choices that we can make available across our school for our students, especially when using technology. 

    Answer to the reflect & connection questions:

    • A shift for me was locating barriers in the environment, not the student-- this can be a game-changer for language used in our meetings. Reframing such as, “we have not given support for that yet” rather than “this student can’t…” This is a huge shift in thinking.

    Adults as learners, I wonder how we accommodate everyone? How are we modeling, showing, and living in a universally designed world through our professional learning and how are we thinking/considering the needs of our adult learners?

    UDL Module 3

    The purpose of UDL Module 3 is to understand:

    • the UDL design process, including how to align goals, barriers, and flexible options using the UDL Guidelines
    • the 5-15-45 is a tool to support collaborative design processes to include all students in instruction.

    Here is a sample agenda for a UDL Module 3 Meet Up. Note that this UDL Meet Up could be virtual, hybrid, or face to face and is approximately one to one and a half hours long.

    • Welcome and announcements. (~5 min)
    • Provide a summary of UDL module 3. For example, highlight how UDL is not just about the UDL Guidelines, but is about having clear goals, anticipating barriers, and integrating options into the learning experience. The UDL Guidelines are a tool to support the design of lessons to better meet the needs of all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities. Design is best with collaboration- the 5-15-45 tool supports the collaborative process for inclusive instruction. This is an opportunity to reflect as a team about how there are opportunities for collaboration among educators. (~5 min)
    • Offer individual work and reflection time to prepare for the breakout room discussion (~5 min). Encourage participants to use Your UDL Journal and to be prepared to discuss these questions in the breakout rooms: 
    • Have small groups or break-out room discussions, we suggest groups of 4-5.  (~30 min)
    • Come back together and share important take-aways and answers to the questions as a whole group. (~20 min)
    • Discuss what’s coming next in Module 4 and have time for participants to fill out the exit ticket. (~10 min)

    Here is a list of materials that may be useful for the UDL Module 3 Meet Up: 

    • A link to the UDL Module 3
    • A UDL Meet Up slide example to modify to meet your needs.
    • A link for participants to make a copy of Your UDL Journal.
    • Create an exit ticket to assess how the UDL Module 3 supported learning or where there were barriers. For example, you could use an online survey software or have a printed sheet for participants to fill out. 

    UDL Modules in Action: Module 3

    Here is an example of some of the discussion points that were generated in UDL module 3 Meet Up from the Lake Washington School District.

    Resources that resonated and why:

    • I really like the 5-15-45. I like that it provides structure to the conversation, but also allows you to figure out based on the time, “here is what I can do.”  I feel like it really allows educators to take control back and guide the conversation in a meaningful way and it could streamline the process of what is happening. 
    • The How to Break Down Barriers article resonated. The article discussed how people might believe that UDL makes things easier for students. It challenges us to think about productive struggles and unproductive struggles and always circling back to “what is the goal of the lesson” and that UDL does not equal easy.
    • I really liked the Inclusive Strategies list and that it was interactive, not just a handout you read. It provided a lot of great strategies for both general and special education teachers. 

    What you tried and observed:

    • I spent a lot of time looking through the article about IEPs that explores inclusion. It made me think about how we write IEPs currently, how we have written them in the past, and doing a better job of tying them into the standards.
    • Assessment: I keep going back to how/what the district provides in terms of assessments. I wonder will this be changing?  How will this UDL work align with current assessment practices?
    • I appreciated the really great tools around collaboration support for communication tools. I would love to be able to share that with SLPs and include it in our own process, using UDL tools to guide it. As a teacher, I am excited to start expectations/agreements at the beginning of the year regarding communication.
    • I wonder how powerful it would be if given a list of learning targets, knowing people come with different levels of understanding, skills, dispositions and thinking. I thought about asking the learner what they want to focus on, “what do you feel like you already have and what are those you want to focus on?”

    Answer to the reflect & connect questions:

    • I want to make sure to communicate that these are guiding practices to provide UDL for all students. I get caught off guard if we talk about UDL as an overarching framework and worry that this will deter teachers and that they will think that UDL is just for individual students.
    • I want to make sure that when this is rolling out that it isn’t just special education talking about UDL.

    UDL Module 4

    The purpose of UDL Module 4 is to understand the:

    • UDL implementation process, and
    • UDL alignment to other frameworks to ensure that “all means all.”

    Here is a sample agenda for a UDL Module 4 Meet Up. Note that this kickoff could be virtual, hybrid, or face to face and is approximately 1-1.5 hours long.

    • Welcome and announcements. (~5 min)
    • Provide a summary of UDL module 4. For example, you can highlight that UDL implementation across a school can take years. It starts with a need for change that is grounded in data, then a team explores, prepares, integrates, scales, and optimizes UDL to support that need for change. UDL aligns with many frameworks that might be the focus of a school or district. (~5 min)
    • Offer individual work and reflection time to prepare for the break-out room discussion (~5 min). Encourage participants to use Your UDL Journal and to be prepared to discuss in the break-out rooms: 
    • Have small group or break-out room discussions, we suggest groups of 4-5.  (~30 min)
    • Come back together and share important take-aways and answers to the questions as a whole group. (~20 min)
    • Discuss what’s coming next with the completion of the UDL modules and have time for participants to fill out the exit ticket. (~10 min)

    Here is a list of materials that may be useful for the UDL Module 4 Meet Up: 

    You can create an exit ticket to assess how the UDL Module 4 supported learning or where there were barriers. For example, you could use Google Forms or have a printed sheet for participants to fill out. 

    • What strategies did you gain to design for inclusive instruction, including students with significant cognitive disabilities? 
    • What worked well for you in this UDL module 4? 
    • Where were there barriers? What do you need to reduce these barriers for your learning and application? 

    UDL Modules in Action: Module 4

    Here is an example of some of the discussion points that were generated in UDL Module 4 Meet Up from the Lake Washington School District.

    Resources that resonated and why:

    • I really liked the UDL talk Culturally Relevant Teaching and UDL connection, as it aligns with our CRT/equity focus. I wonder how I can anticipate general barriers initially, but then how I will need to get to know students and to plan ahead of time.
    • I looked at the redistribution of quality opportunities to make sure marginalized populations are represented across my materials and examples in my lessons. I want to focus on how I value and celebrate student differences and different strengths.

    What you tried and observed:

    • I wonder how we could have a master schedule set up for collaboration to enhance the use of UDL for all students.
    • I need to keep going to my assessments and think about what is expected of us as general education teachers. I wonder where the district is with this, are they caught up with us? Is grading caught up to UDL?
    • This week I reflected back on my 26-year-old, wishing we had this process for him and having him understand his learning better. It would have helped him more in school, to know his strengths and challenges and how to support himself and how to ask if he could do it a different way. 
    • Analyzing my classroom environment is a straightforward place to start. Lots of things we can do to the environment to make things more accessible. 

    Answer to the reflect & connection questions:

    • When we talk about UDL, we think about students in special education, but it's meant to be equitable for all students in a school. It’s important to think about discipline, referrals, etc. and how we can use data to transform instruction.
    • The more we can show UDL is not a separate thing in our professional development training, the better. UDL is the first lens we are using and it works with everything we are doing.
    • There is a fine line between “you are already doing this” and “you still need to try because we aren’t there yet.”

    What Comes After the UDL Modules?

    After your team completes the UDL modules, there are several opportunities for the next steps.

    • Host one last UDL Meet Up. This is a chance to connect back to the opening reflection at your Kickoff. Have your team discuss how their vision of inclusion has changed. Reflect on what the team learned and the questions that remain.
    • Celebrate successes. You could host a “sharatorium” where individuals or small teams take turns sharing the inclusive strategies they tried out and what they saw in terms of student learning. Remember to provide flexible ways for the teams to share their learning and their actions - for example, they may make a video, PowerPoint, or use another option!
    • Determine action steps. Identify the next steps each person will take in their sphere of influence as a result of what they learned in the UDL modules. As mentioned earlier, change is hard. Having each person commit to trying one new thing or to sharing one new idea with a colleague can help to ensure the learning and inclusive strategies continue.
    • Host a UDL Help Desk. Continue to build collective efficacy around the use of inclusive strategies to meet the needs of all learners, including students with significant cognitive disabilities, by hosting a bi-weekly or monthly help desk. Teachers and teams can come together with a coach or mentor to problem-solve and creatively find solutions that remove barriers to student learning. 
    • Plan a second cohort. Consider hosting a second team to go through the UDL modules and UDL Meet Ups. You could have members from the first team become leaders or mentors to others at your site.
    • Share examples of UDL. Continue to share examples of how inclusive strategies are designed into your lessons to meet the needs of all learners, including students with significant cognitive disabilities. These examples could be shared during staff meetings, professional development days, or other times. 

    UDL Modules in Action: What Comes After the UDL Modules

    After the Lake Washington School District participated in the UDL modules, the school year started and so did the UDL implementation. Check out this email from a K-12 Arts Teaching & Learning Specialist who leveraged UDL to improve coaching and adult learning.  

    Thanks again for the summer UDL learning opportunity.  The modules were of such high value in helping me determine how to continue supporting the district's arts teachers in implementing UDL principles.  

    Thought I would also share with you some of the arts teachers' reflections about the UDL framework, used to design their adult learning experience:

    • I appreciate that we had choice in what we were able to do. I listened to the podcast/ bought the book and started reading it. 
    • LOVED It! It was great to have district-mandated information presented with our learning lenses (music, arts, theater, etc.) in mind. I also loved the individual learning time to explore resources.

    Here are a few UDL-related comments that the K-12 Arts Teaching and Learning Specialist shared after they learned about UDL in Module 1:

    • I like the idea of different types of representation of the music. Aural, Visual, etc. Elementary Teachers do this a lot, but want to make it more intentional.
    • I hope to use many concepts from UDL focusing on creating expert learners who are purposeful, resourceful and strategic. 
    • Loved learning about UDL and to see it in action in the From Bach to Gaga video. It had me in tears at the end, but I won't give it away. It inspires me to be more intentional about incorporating SEL and UDL in my classroom. 
    • Want to keep moving in the direction I started last year with more student choice for how to demonstrate learning, which is a part of the engagement component of UDL.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    There are some frequently asked questions about UDL. In this section, there are some sample answers to these questions and some suggested resources to suggest to learn more. 

    What is UDL, is it a tool or an initiative?

    CAST’s UDL Guidelines website describes how the UDL framework offers an overarching approach to designing meaningful learning opportunities that address learner variability and suggests purposeful, proactive attention to the design of goals, assessments, methods, and materials. CAST’s UDL Guidelines are a tool to support educators, curriculum developers, researchers, parents, and more to apply the UDL framework to practice.

    How does UDL align with other initiatives we have in our school?

    Universal Design for Learning is not an initiative but can be used to support initiatives your school may be working with. For example, if your school is working with a technology initiative, digital literacy, flipped classroom models, or other initiatives, UDL can support that initiative. Use UDL to support that initiative by identifying the overarching goal of that initiative (i.e., the goal of a flipped classroom model might be to increase active learning). Then, identify barriers that may prevent access and engagement in that initiative. Use the UDL Guidelines to design options for Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression into the work for that initiative.

    What is the connection between UDL, accessibility, and equity?

    The U.S. Department of Education/Office of Civil Rights defines accessibility as “a person with a disability can acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services equally effectively, equally integrated, with substantially equivalent ease of use as a person without a disability.” CAST has expanded this definition to be for “every individual.” 

    UDL supports equitable practices because it encourages educators to recognize and value the variability in each and every individual. This can be done through the intentional design of the learning experience to be inclusive, flexible, and goal-directed. The UDL Guidelines are a tool to help with this design. Through intentional design for variability from the onset of learning, there can be more equitable opportunities for all students to access and engage in meaningful learning goals.  

    I still want to see more examples of UDL before I try it.

    The theory of UDL can be engaging, but may not lead to changes in classroom practice. It is important to take the first steps to apply UDL starting with UDL Module 1. Don’t wait until the end, but work with the Try It and take small steps in your work as you are learning. You might choose to focus on one lesson, activity, or meeting that you are planning as you work through the UDL modules. 

    When do I know enough about UDL to lead a team through these UDL modules?

    There is no prerequisite knowledge for leading a team through these UDL modules. Before volunteering to be a UDL team leader, we recommend:

    • Be open to learning more about UDL in your practice so you can model what you are trying.
    • Be able to access data from your school so you can discuss where there are inequities or disproportionality that need to be addressed. 
    • Be willing to support educators to try out new practices and reflect on how it is supporting inclusive learning environments.
    • Have time in your schedule to organize the UDL Meet Ups, correspond with your team, and do some learning on your own. 

    Who should lead the UDL work at our school, general educators or special educators?

    UDL is about inclusive design for all learners and is best implemented when multiple stakeholders are applying UDL to their practice. Each educator brings their unique strengths to the design of a learning experience - and UDL can best be supported through a collaboration between general educators, special educators, leadership, and other stakeholders in the school and family community.

    Here are other resources to answer questions about UDL:

    Where can I go for more training on UDL?

    Additional Resources

    UDL modules comprehensive Resource link  

    Sample Emails

    Example of a Scheduling Email

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your interest in our UDL modules training series. Based on feedback from the survey I sent out, the date and time we have identified for our first training is next [insert time and date here].    

    I have attached a timeline document that lays out the schedule for the training, including the weeks when we expect you to dig into the content of the UDL modules as well as the weeks that you should devote to trying some strategies, reflecting upon those try-its in your journal and meeting up synchronously with your UDL module team The proposed schedule for the synchronous learning sessions is:

    • Kick-Off Event, [insert date and time here]
    • UDL Module 1 Meet Up, [insert date and time here]
    • UDL Module 2 Meet Up, [insert date and time here]
    • UDL Module 3 Meet Up, [insert date and time here]
    • UDL Module 4 Meet Up, [insert date and time here]

    Please confirm your intent to participate in these trainings and let me know if you have any additional questions. I’ll send an invitation to those that confirm their participation.  

    Thank you!

    Example of a Weekly Reminder Email

    Hello All,

    Our main goal this week is to learn about the vision of UDL. Let's get started!

    Here are your next steps this week:

    • Review the Module Introduction and revisit the opening reflection.
    • Begin Module 1 Part 1: Build Background on the vision of UDL, expert learning, learner variability, and clear goals and flexible pathways. 
    • Save the date  for our UDL Module 1 Meet Up on [insert date and time here].
    • If you want to move ahead to Module 1 week 2, you can start Part 2: Try It and Part 3: Reflect and Connect.

    Did you miss the UDL Kickoff Event? We will send everyone a link to the recording later this week. Do you have questions about the UDL modules? Please contact [insert name and email here].

    Thank you!

    Example of a Weekly Check-In Email 

    Hi everyone!

    We hope everyone is enjoying their exploration of Module 2 – the “what” of UDL. This week is all about putting the UDL framework and/or guidelines into action. Make sure you take some time to reflect on your learning and add your thoughts and ideas to your UDL journal.

    We are looking forward to seeing you on [insert date and time here] for our next UDL Meet Up.  And as always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding this PD series, just let me know!

    We can’t wait to hear what you have learned or found engaging!

     

    Acknowledgement:

    Produced by CAST in partnership with the TIES Center and the Lake Washington School District.

    TIES Center, UDL in Lake Washington, UDL Meet Up Module 4. Produced by CAST in partnership with TIES Center.
    Lake Washington School Distric