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

Module 3


Take a moment to pause and review what you learned in Modules 1 and 2. How would you summarize your learning so far? Here are a few key ideas:

Module 1 focuses on the “why” of UDL and recognition that clear goals and flexible pathways can open opportunities for all students to develop as expert learners in our classrooms. UDL encourages educators to frame barriers in the environment, not in the student, and to proactively design options for Engagement, Representation, and Action & Expression to reduce those barriers. 

 Module 2 highlights CAST’s UDL Guidelines. This tool can help educators anticipate and design for the variability of students. Accessibility is a critical starting point for UDL.

The “How” of Inclusive Instruction

Now that you’ve explored the vision of UDL, the UDL Guidelines, and the UDL Framework, it is time to dive into implementation. Remember, just like Universal Design in architecture looks different in every context, UDL will look different in every learning context. There is no one tool, resource, or technology that is required. Instead, with UDL educators develop the learning goals, proactively reduce barriers, and design flexible instruction using the UDL Guidelines (Engagement, Representation, Action & Expression) in their assessments, methods, and materials. Collaboration can support inclusive instruction - whether with other educators or with students themselves. 

This module includes two2 key concepts to understand:

  • the UDL design process includes goals, barriers, flexible options using the UDL Guidelines; and

  • the 5-15-45 is a tool to support collaborative design processes to include all students in instruction.

As you work through Module 3, please add to Your UDL Journal.

Video from the Web version of this publication:

UDL Video 3:

Part 1: Build background

UDL Design Process

The UDL design process requires a deep reflection on the goals. This includes understanding whether the goal is a key skill, learning content, behavior, or other critical areas of focus for the lesson you are developing. Ask yourself: 

  • Is the learning goal for this part of the lesson clear?

  • Do all students have access to and understanding of the learning goals? 

  • Do the learning goals reflect high expectations and access to the general education curriculum? 

  • How can instruction on student IEP goals be integrated into each lesson?

Once the goal for the lesson is clear, reflect on the plan to assess whether students have achieved that learning goal. Flexible formative assessments, or opportunities to gain feedback about student learning, can be used to inform instructional moves. With clear goals and assessment criteria, you can anticipate barriers students may face in their learning. Focusing on goals and barriers enables educators to proactively integrate options into the methods and materials for inclusive instruction that supports all students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Explore this video about the UDL design process​ (11 slides). Then, choose 2-3 options to build background about the UDL design process. 

As you build your background, demonstrate understanding: How can you develop goals in your lessons, including IEP goals? How can you leverage the UDL Guidelines to identify and reduce barriers in your goals, assessments, methods, and materials, especially for students with significant cognitive disabilities?

The 5-15-45 Tool: Key ideas to know

Collaboration between general and special educators is critical to quality inclusive education for students with significant cognitive disabilities. However, time and the teaching workload can make this collaboration challenging. If inclusive education requires ongoing and robust collaboration - and time is tight - how can you get started with UDL? The 5-15-45 Tool supports the collaboration processes for educators, whether you have 5, 15, or 45 minutes.

Explore this overview video of the 5-15-45 Tool . Then, choose 2-3 options to explore and build background about the 5-15-45 Tool. 

Start on the home page of the 5-15-45 Tool:

  • Select a lesson you will work on.

  • Choose a colleague to collaborate with. Here is a template you could use to reach out to your team or colleague
  • Select a timeframe you both have available to collaborate; either 5, 15, or 45 minutes.

As you build your background, demonstrate understanding: How can you start to plan with a collaborative partner, whether you have 5, 15, or 45 minutes? What are the resources in this tool that you can use with a collaborative partner? How can you use this tool in your lesson planning for students with significant cognitive disabilities?

Part 2: Try it

Now that you have built some background, implement an idea in your work. Observe evidence of student learning and share with a colleague.

Option 1:

If your goal is to focus on instruction, focus on the UDL design process.

  • Choose an upcoming lesson and share it with a collaborative partner.
  • Determine how much time you have for your collaboration, 5, 15, or 45 minutes. Follow the protocolto plan the lesson to include a student with significant cognitive disabilities.

Option 2:

If your goal is to support adults as they collaborate to support each and every learner, then get to know and use the 5-15-45.

  • Introduce the 5-15-45 Tool to the professionals you are working with.
  • Have them identify the lesson, their collaboration time, and follow the protocols to include a student with significant cognitive disabilities.
  • Guide them through the resources, such as the Inclusive Strategies, to help them reduce barriers as they plan.
  • When they have a chance to deliver the lesson, observe how the lesson design supported student learning.

Reflect on how leadership can set expectations for the importance of engaging in collaborative discussions, including the design of curriculum and standards-based instruction to meet the needs of each and every learner.

5 minutes
15 minutes
45 minutes
Go beyonde this lesson: Inclusive Strategies

Need inspiration? In this video, Ashlynn OwenKachikis, Special Educator at Rockwell, describes how professional collaboration increased instructional effectiveness for each and every learner.

Video from the Web version of this publication:

UDL in Action 5: Ashlynn Owens-Kachikis 2:

Part 3: Reflect and Connect

Document what you tried using an option that is best for you (i.e., using video, text, or audio options). Share with a collaborative partner: what did you learn, and how did your Try It impact student learning, especially for a student with significant cognitive disabilities? 

Reflect on what you learned: What key concept or resource most resonated with your practice as a teacher to support each and every learner, including students with significant cognitive disabilities?

Recognize and consider equity: What barriers were there in the instruction or curriculum (goals, assessments, methods, materials)? What are some systemic barriers to learning that are present in your context?  How does designing for one student provide the opportunity to benefit all students?

Part 4: Dive deeper

Do you still want to learn more? Here are some suggestions:

For the Record

Do you need to share how you spent your time? Here is a Self-check sheet with space to document and share your time and your learning.

The information in this module is not an endorsement of any identified products. Products identified in this module are shared solely as examples to help communicate information about ways to reach the desired goals for students.

All rights reserved.

TIES Center is the national technical assistance center on inclusive practices and policies. Its purpose is to create sustainable changes in kindergarten-grade 8 school and district educational systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional activities as their general education peers, while being instructed in a way that meets individual learning needs. TIES Center is led by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO) at the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota, and includes the following additional collaborating partners: Arizona Department of Education, CAST, University of Cincinnati, University of Kentucky, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, and University of North Carolina – Greensboro.

TIES Center is supported through a Cooperative Agreement (#H326Y170004) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it. Project Officer: Susan Weigert

TIES Center

University of Minnesota

Institute on Community Integration

2025 East River Parkway

Minneapolis, MN 55414

Phone: 612-626-1530

This document is available in alternate formats upon request.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity employer and educator.

TIES TIPS partner organization logos: Arizona Dept. of Education, CAST, UNC Charlotte, NCEO, University of Kentucky, The University of North Carolina Greensboro, IDEAs that Work