Universal Design for Learning & Lesson Planning

Screenshot 2014-08-10 18.20.43

What is Universal Design for Learning and how should it change your lesson plans?

Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, is “a framework that addresses the primary barrier to fostering expert learners within instructional environments: inflexible, “one-size-fits-all” curricula” in order to better meet diverse, student needs and abilities (CAST, 2011, pg.4). A few weeks ago, I wrote this blog post explaining how to use the Makey Makey to teach syllabication in a kindergarten classroom. This week, I have used the Guidelines of UDL to improve my lesson’s ability to better reach learners of all shapes and sizes. The edits to my original lesson can be seen in purple ink here. Although I felt I wrote and designed a worthwhile, interactive lesson plan, there are several edits that can be made to better reach varying learners according to the accommodations listed by UDL.

For starters, I originally did very well using multimedia in my lesson plan. The lesson was designed to be taught on an interactive whiteboard (visual), followed by the use of the Makey Makey kit (tactile and auditory), an assessment/paper sort (tactile/visual) and a song/video (kinesthetic, auditory). I also feel that my lesson was properly scaffolded prior to making the UDL edits and was/is socially relevant and age/ability appropriate.

UDL Changes Made

To better accommodate varying learners I added options for differentiated visual interaction by allowing students to use the Makey Makey piano site to practice their syllables on a classroom desktop computer or iPad as opposed to whole-group. This could advantage students who may have a more difficult time interacting with the Makey Makey piano site in a whole-group setting. To accommodate auditory learners in a more meaningful way, lyrics to the video/song on YouTube can be provided and sent home so that the students may practice with their families and interact with the media multiple times.

Several of my changes were centered around comprehension. I added a few components to the lesson to better background knowledge, check for understanding and establish goals and objectives more thoroughly. To better background knowledge, I addressed that the lesson I wrote is not intended to be taught as the first lesson on syllabication but that students are to be introduced to the concept prior to the use of the Makey Makey. I also added a note encouraging teachers to practice syllabication in small groups with struggling or ELL students prior to teaching this lesson. Most importantly, I thought it best to add a review of the key vocabulary term, “syllable”, before even beginning the lesson for the entire group. At the end of the activity, I decided to review the sort/assessment with the students as a whole group to better check for understanding. Lastly, to establish clear goals and objectives, I added a section of my lesson plan where the teacher is to review each objective with the students before beginning and encourage them to make individual content and behavior-based goals.

Students will also be given freedom in the way in which they display their comprehension through the sort/assessment. Changes and adaptations can be made based upon need and mastery of the material. I also made the use of my modeling and think-aloud clearer and provided more opportunities for the teacher to provide verbal (during the lesson) and written (on the sort/assessment) feedback. Although I imagined the teacher to circulate the classroom and ask self-monitoring/reflection questions, I added this component in writing during the assessment portion of the lesson. Similarly, I expected the teacher to provide positive encouragement throughout and maintain strong classroom management but did not state this directly. I have now edited it to include example of positive encouragement and ways in which to monitor student behavior through goal setting and the use of a classroom behavior system after completing the lesson. Lastly, I also stated that students can complete their assignment in small groups of four to better foster collaboration and community.

Please see the following outline of UDL Guidelines to determine how and why I made these specific changes to my lesson plan.


CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

Photo 1. (2014). Created on http://www.wordle.net. Blossom, A.


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