UDL Connect

Online Community of Practice for UDL Implementors

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!

Views: 2672

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I would see all kids engaged in the learning. Students would be self evaluating their work. I would see a variety of options for students to get information and share their knowledge
Oops. Forgot the NOT... lecture. Same task for all. Bored students.

Part 1

  • Barriers in the curriculum and learning environment are identified and addressed

  • Content and skills are presented in multiple ways
  • Students are engaged in meaningful learning opportunities

Part 2


No intentional teaching to a targeted goal

Lack of teacher "with-it-ness" around the who, what, and whys of UDL

UDL being applied effectively in the classroom:

1)  the same diverse, observable, accessible tools and resources available to all students to complete a task and share their knowledge.

2) displayed student work shows various methods of completing a task (pen/paper, computer, clay, etc...)

3) instructor presents material in different ways and offers resources for the students to get the introduction to the content  again outside of the classroom (facilitates online student discussions, podcasts, Kahn Academy, videos, etc...); facilitates learning for all students and provides direct instruction as necessary, and tracks their progress.

Signs that UDL is not being applied effectively:

1) All students are offered only one way of learning the content.

2) All students are required to complete a task the same way, provide the same exact result, and take the same amount of time.

3) Teacher does not allow flexibility in the physical learning environment for students (i.e., all students must sit quietly at desk, i.e.,no collaboration, no alternative movement options).


The teacher supports in his or her classroom the idea that children have  multiple ways to show what they know 

Students are given the option to choose how they want to share and to explore as they build on their learning thought the use of multiple tools..that all students have access to. (the more  multi sensory.. the better)

The classroom environment is designed to allow access to a variety of tools and spaces ( variety of types of pencils,technology, different types of writing paper, post it note, highlighter, finger lights, pointers, option to stand while working, choice of space for working, ect....)

Daily goals are written in " Kid friendly terms" so that students have a clear understanding of the goals. Teachers and children work together towards an expressed target or goal.  When appropriate the class may design  the goal together.

Scaffolding  and support for students iin the classroom to move children forward  while still encouraging students to take risk.

Self reflection is an integrated part of the classroom and students celebrate their growth.


The Lansdowne Middle School UDL Professional Learning Community (Baltimore County Public Schools, MD) wrestled with these questions this past spring.  The answer was to jointly create a formative assessment tool that described the types of activities and environmental observations one might expect to make when walking into a "UDL" classroom.  The group titled the document a formative assessment tool because they hoped to use it for both planning their instruction as well as receiving feedback from their peers and administrators. This tool was based upon a similar concept being used by the Montgomery County Public Schools in MD. (Note that the PLC also linked theses observable areas to the Charlotte Danielson Framework, the tool used for teacher evaluations in BCPS)

Very nice, Lisa. Is this a self evaluation document for teachers to determine their own implementation of UDL or is more of a peer review type of process?


I'd look for students who have some choice in how they show what they know in class, students engaged in the learning.  I'd look for some evidence that the teacher planned with students' interests in mind, and a balance of students working on the same thing and students working on very different things.

In a classroom where I think UDL is not being applied effectively, I would expect to see a lot of compliance on the students' part (not really engaged), and a teacher that holds the same identical expectations for how each student shows what they know.

Students working quietly but engaged in groups, teacher available as resource, discussion between students, learning resources available and being used, multiple ways to demonstrate learning.

NOT: Teacher in front students in seats. Teacher reading to students. Assignment written on board. Total silence.


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

  1. All students engaged in the same learning activities but not necessarily in the same way.
  2. The teachers having a clear understanding of the curriculum to enable learning and particularly assessment to be provided in a way that allows the teacher to determine student capability.
  3. A range of resources, tools and learning strategies can be seen being used by a range of students.
  4. Students having the opportunity to make choices as to how they engage with their curriculum.
  5. Unplanned learning. One of the main benefits I see with UDL is the "unplanned" learning that takes place. Many students will benefit from having information provided to them in a range of means, even though they may not be the students being targetted. Often those "borderline" students, who don't have a specific diagnosis, who are being targetted for direct support, who are the "C" level students, benefit most from UDL


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

  1. Students failing but not because they don't understand or have the capacity to apply their knowledge. Failing because of the way they are assessed. Too many students are not achieving to their capacity because they are not being assessed in a way they are capable of engaging in. This is currently my biggest concern in mainstream classrooms.
  2. Student learning not progressing. Ultimately, the purpose of any learning strategy or framework is to enhance the capacity to learn. If student learning is not progressing, if the teacher is not seeing improvement in literacy, numeracy, or other areas of the curriculum, you might need to question how learning is being designed to suit the needs of the student.
  3. Hearing the teacher say one of these quotes: "You must do it this way." or "We've always done it this way." or "Everyone has to be assessed the same way".
  4. A "clinical" classroom, void of visual and auditory resources.
  5. Student attendance and participation. Unless students can engage with learning in a way that suits their needs, unless they can be given information in a way they can understand, unless students can show what they know and can do with what they know, it is very difficult for students to remain focussed and engaged in their learning. Disengagement and a reduction in attendance are likely to follow.

Ensure barriers are broken down so that students who are deaf or hearing impaired can access accurate captioning on a you tube clip or a documentary. What can be done to resolve this issue?

These lists are very helpful to create a lens of what UDL looks like.  Thank you everyone!

I would love to ask- if we could take this a step further, and describe what a UDL classroom would look like (or not) during specific subjects- say a 6th grade Math lesson- or 3rd grade shared reading-- whereas the concepts of UDL become a little bit lost-

I am eager to hear your thoughts!  And thanks in advance for the specifics.... :)


Stay Connected

Get archived issues of the e-newsletter: UDL Focus

Go to archive


Follow us!

Facebook LogoTwitter Logo Diigo logoGoogle+ icon

Visitor Map

Locations of visitors to this page

© 2018   Created by National Center on UDL.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service