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We are wondering how educators “know” whether or not UDL is being successfully applied in the classroom. We are interested in your thoughts on the following prompts:

When you visit a classroom…..

What are the top 3-5 things that you would look for as clear signals that UDL is being applied effectively?

What are the top 3-5 things that you would look for as clear signals that UDL is not being applied effectively?

Please share your ideas by responding to this forum or by sending an email to Jenna at jiw358@mail.harvard.edu. We look forward to learning from your perspectives!

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Hi Kristen. I appreciate this comment about exploring UDL "look fors" from a discipline-specific perspective. I am a doctoral student, and my research focuses on the intersection of UDL and disciplinary thinking. I am about to begin a dissertation that explores how to support teachers to apply UDL in ways that encourage rich, disciplinary thinking in ELA among diverse learners.

I have been working on the team with David Rose and Grace Meo to explore UDL "look fors" at the general level, and we look forward to digging into discipline-specific "look fors" in the future! Do you teach a particular content area? Do you have any ideas that you would like to share? Thanks again for your post!

1. I look for clearly posted Goals  and "I Can Statements" in student friendly language.

2. As I look around the room I see students highly engaged in learning.

3. I see a room arranged in such a way to promote learning through collaboration, inclusiveness, and a warm inviting atmosphere.

4. Student have real choice and control over their learning.

3-5 things that you would look for as clear signals that UDL is being applied effectively

1. Visual displays of vocabulary/language around the classroom

2. Resources including assistive technology as well as diverse texts/materials to compliment Access for All

3. Cooperative learning groups


3-5 things that you would look for as clear signals that UDL is not being applied effectively

1. Lecture style instruction

2. No differentiation in task(s)

3. Undefined expectations on how to complete task(s)

Thank you all for your responses thus far! Your perspectives will be valuable to us as we move forward with exploring this topic. Please keep them coming!

When I see it:

Choices of materials

Interactions with partners or team members

Lots of options for responding

Happy students who are engaged in the learning

When I don't:

Lots of worksheets

Lots of teacher talking

Many students not engaged; just sitting

Recently I was in a yr 10 history class (in Australia ). I could see the teacher was implementing the principles of UDL.
The class was studying WWI and the ANZACS. The lesson was on life in the trenches.
Here is what I saw: the students did read a chapter from their history textbook, but they also watched a few short video clips (use of primary and secondary sources) and hanging around the room were posters and visual displays of trench warfare and life in the trenches. - multiple means of representing content
The teacher asked them to imagine they were a soldier living in the trenches at that time. She did a W chart to help them unpack the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings. The traditional empathy task of writing a letter home to your mother was changed to use any medium to explain what life in the trenches was like. She gave some examples such as a radio interview, a short film, a poster, a diary entry. Students could choose. They also could choose the perspective they presented their task from such as an Australian soldier, a Turkish soldier, a British soldier. - multiple means of expression.
The teacher then gave the students a choice to work on their own or with a partner to complete the task. She was very clear on the marking criteria for the task and provided the students with the criteria.
Her plan from this lesson was that the students would work on the task in class rather than a take home task so she could give them feedback along the way to improve their final product.
I thought this was a great example of UDL for a teacher who has only recently had professional learning on the principles.

My last post posted incomplete. My last sentence was meant to say that the resource I mentioned helps to remove many barriers. It complements the principles in many ways.

Thanks for following up on your post. To which resource are you referring? Your reference to Access for All? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! We appreciate your feedback!

I am sorry that did not come through. I mentioned in that post that I just completed a workshop with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project at UMASS, Amherst. The "Literacy Leadership Institute" which has been running for a few months now, examined the challenges of teaching literacy in the content areas in anticipation of the Common Core and the nature of tests to follow. One group of teacher consultants shared a resource as part of their final presentation. "Tools for Teaching Content Literacy" by Janet Allen shares exciting guides for teachers to remove barriers so all students can access content area language. I highly recommend it.

Thanks so much for your recommendation! This book sounds like a valuable resource. I will be sure to check it out!

Top 3-5 things to look for in a UDL class

1) Effective observation in knowing what kinds of supports will be needed for those particular students at that time.

2) Developed lessons based on the needs of the students represented.

3) Providing multiple means of representation in lesson plans based on variability of the learners in the classroom.

4) Active engagement

 Top 3-5 things UDL in not represented in a class

1). One type of formative and summative assessment for all the class.

2). Same format in class every day without much flexibility.

3). No technology implemented in lessons

 I see the teacher ensuring all students understand the task by providing the exact same instructional direction in a variety of ways - written in front of them, with visual depictions projected, verbally and any other way appropriate for the class.  The students have a plan of action to complete a task and this is gauged by their conversations with each other, the work in front of them, and the method the teacher uses to assess their progress.  I also see various tools (low-tech/high-tech) around the learning environment that are available to students to use to learn AND they know how to use them, and desks are not in rows.

UDL is not applied effectively if conversations and instructions are offered using one mode of communication, and students are restricted or limited in completing an assignment (there is only one way to submit the answer or a presentation is limited to a certain number of pages).  Also, if there is noticeably ONE student who is not participating or appears engaged in the lesson's activities.



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