Monday, January 27, 2014

Teaching Every Student

As we have learned, teaching to every student can be difficult, no matter how many years of experience you have under your belt.  "Teaching Every Student" on invites teachers to read and understand the basic knowledge of Universal Design for Learning in the classroom, as well as how to add different approaches into lesson plans. As we know, a curriculum is not "one size fits all," leaving teachers to adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of their learners. Under three categories, basic, activities, and case studies, readers are given the opportunity to browse, review, and complete activities that will allow them to gain knowledge supporting the variety of learners in their classroom.

The multimedia book, Teaching Every Student in Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning can be viewed.  This book was written to give teachers a print-based curriculum that will help them teach students with disabilities and help them become equipped with appropriate tools and approaches to learning. Along with this book, there is also a video and a copy of UDL guidelines.  These resources give readers the basic knowledge on UDL and gives them the foundations they will need in order to create a learning environment that is appropriate for all students.

Under this category, you are provided with activities that give you the opportunity to become acquainted with the networks of the brain that help process information.  The scenarios are realistic, allowing you to learn how the brain works on a daily basis and throughout activities that you may participate in. It is a great way to see how everyone thinks differently and to understand how the different parts of the brain function and affect your ability to learn.

Case Studies:
Case studies are given to readers so they can see how challenges can relate to students on every level and in every class.  For instance, a teacher who teaches social studies, may come across students who have difficulty reading.  You will also find ways to approach lesson planning through the UDL model in order to engage all learners and ensure they are learning the material.


Technology Toolkit for UDL

The Free Technology Toolkit for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an extremely informational website that can be put to use in all classrooms.  Providing teachers with useful tools for all areas of learning, teaching strategies, and helpful links, the technology toolkit has the ability to transform any professionals teaching strategies and make a classroom an inviting place for students.  As mentioned in previous blogs, Universal Design for Learning expands curriculum in order to provide students with the opportunity to learn through multiple means of representation,  multiple means of action and expression, and multiple means of engagement.  This being said, the Wiki Site,, allows educators to reach the learning needs of all their students through the use of tools such as interactive websites, graphic organizers, and audio books.


Friday, January 24, 2014

What is UDL?

As a teacher, it is necessary to understand the importance of teaching to each individual student, rather than teaching to the class as a whole.  Every student is different, which means they also have a variety of learning needs and the teacher is obligated to meet each of their learning levels.  Although I only have a few years experience, I know it is difficult to model various teaching techniques in the classroom; making the ability to reach each individual student difficult.  However, with the help of UDL, or Universal Design for Learning, students are offered "full and equal opportunities to learn" through three basic principles; providing multiple means of representation, providing multiple means of action and expression, and providing multiple means of engagement (Dell, Newton, Petroff, 2012).

According to, "UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one- size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs" (  To me, as I'm sure to many teachers, this seems like an obvious way of teaching your students.  Regardless of how obvious it seems, many teachers can not pull it off. It is important to know your students, how they learn, and the ways in which you can help them best understand the material being taught.

As mentioned earlier, every student is different in the way they think, learn, and process information.  The below diagram shows three different parts of the brain that help us with the learning process.  Each individuals "networks" vary, bringing a variety of needs, skills, and interests into the learning environment (

Universal Design for Learning

Recognition Networks

The "what" of learning
Image of a brain with recognition network shown in purple
How we gather facts and categorize what we see, hear, and read. Identifying letters, words, or an author's style are recognition tasks.
checkmarkPresent information and content in different ways

Strategic Networks

The "how" of learning
Image of a brain with strategic network shown in blue
Planning and performing tasks.How we organize and express our ideas. Writing an essay or solving a math problem are strategic tasks.
checkmarkDifferentiate the ways that students can express what they know

Affective Networks

The "why" of learning
Image of a brain with affective network shown in green
How learners get engaged and stay motivated. How they are challenged, excited, or interested.These are affective dimensions.

With the help of UDL, every teacher has the ability to take a students learning process into consideration. With that in mind, it is evident that the teacher needs to bring a variety of teaching tools and learning strategies into the classroom environment and help each student become successful.

If you are anything like me and need more than words to help explain a specific topic, then you will find the video below helpful.  "UDL At A Glance" helps educators understand the basics of the Universal Design for Learning, while using pictures, graphs, and scenarios.  Using a video to help explain a topic is a great way for a teacher to reach out to some of their learners!


Dell, A.G., Newton, D.A., Petroff, J.G. (2012).  Assistive Technology in the Classroom: Enhancing the School Experiences of Students with Disabilities. Pearson Education Inc.

About UDL: What is Universal Design for Learning?

Monday, January 20, 2014


"I facilitate learning. I engage minds. I  listen to questions. I encourage risk. I support struggle. I cultivate dreams. I learn everyday. I TEACH."

I am unaware of who wrote the above quote, however, after reading it several times, it is clear that teachers are not only helping their students learn, but they are also the inspiration and motivation behind their students. As teachers, we continue to learn new knowledge and use this knowledge to teach and encourage our students.  Throughout this semester, I plan on using this course to help guide me through the challenges of everyday teaching.  Although I do not have a full-time contracted teaching position, I still see challenges as a substitute teacher.  I'm hoping this class can help me have a better understanding on how to be creative in the ways I teach my students.  Even though I do consider myself to be a creative individual, there is always something new to learn that can help you teach to the special needs of each individual student. 

Throughout this course, I hope to learn through the use of the textbook, this blog, and through the ability to communicate with my peers.  By writing your thoughts on paper (or in this case, in a blog), you have the ability to truly understand what you are thinking and learning.  For this reason, this blog will help me have a better understanding of who I am as a student and as a teacher.  I am looking forward to reading the blogs that my classmates have written and am interested to see what we can learn from one another.