I came across an awesome analogy for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) from Novak Education- it is clear, it creates a concrete image of UDL, and it is kind of fun!
Novak Education describes UDL as a buffet- a family style dinner!
When we think of a buffet, we think of choices, variety, a lot of something or a little of all! Buffets allow everyone to make the best choices for themselves..... maybe with a little guidance at times!
UDL is the same idea: nothing is created student specific, rather choices & options are provided that will appeal to & benefit students differently. UDL supports an inclusive learning community through the family buffet- or through the delivery of options and choices.
Let's put UDL into perspective for a second:
Think about the automatic sliding doors on vans- super awesome for the busy parent carting 4 bags of groceries, 2 knapsacks, and a baby carrier. A flick of a button and the door closes without having to put anything down on the driveway. These automatic sliding doors do not appeal to everyone- but I bet most of us would find them useful or helpful when someone in the back forgot to close the door and we are halfway across the parking lot.
Think about ramps- these are really built with pushcarts, wheelchairs and for people with mobility challenges in mind- not for someone who can get by with their 2 legs on their own. However, after a long day on your feet I bet a ramp would come in useful.
UDL is about setting up an environment that increases access for everyone by reducing barriers. A classroom set up following a UDL framework provides options, choices, and opportunities for all its members. The benefit of a UDL classroom or learning community is that all students benefit and all students are considered in the set up. It does not happen over night- but once you have a little glimpse of success, you will see how transformative UDL is.
Here are 5 ways that you can introduce UDL into your classroom: 1. Clear expectations: make sure all students understand what is expected of them in terms of learning and behaviour.
2. Provide options for work: ensure students have multiple options in how they can present their learning to you. For example: a written essay, a powerpoint presentation, or verbal presentation allow different students to showcase their knowledge.
3. Flexible classrooms: make sure you allow your classrooms to develop with your students. Provide options for group work, floor work, quiet areas to ensure all kiddos have a comfortable spot to engage their brain.
4. Check-ins: connect with your students, allow them to share their learning experiences with you. This is valuable feedback for you in continuing to provide choices and options.
5. Provide various ways to access information: if kiddos cannot access the information, they cannot learn it! Make sure you present information in various formats and make sure your students have opportunities to access information through different sources.