Applying UDL Each Day to Help All Learners

Universal Design Daily: 365 Ways to Teach, Support and Challenge All Learners
By Dr. Paula Kluth
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Stacy Thorpe

Dr. Paula Kluth provides an excellent teaching resource with her new book, Universal Design Daily: 365 Ways to Teach, Support & Challenge All Learners. Just as the subtitle suggests, there are 365 ideas for implementing Universal Design for Learning in the classroom. The book includes many fresh and tried and true ideas for incorporating UDL into daily lessons and is laid out with a structure that allows you to meet your planning needs quickly.

The first thing I noted when I opened the book was the Table of Contents which provided the breakdown of the sections of the book. The book is divided into three sections: Understanding UDL, Teaching & Learning with UDL, and Using UDL and Beyond.

Next, I read the Preface which provided a comprehensive overview of Universal Design for Learning as well as a brief overview of each section of the book. The author stated that “the book has 365 ideas so that readers can focus on just one idea per day, but if you are an overachiever, feel free to flip through at your own pace. Read two-a-day if you dare or even all 365 in one sitting!”

I was one of the latter types of readers, as I could not put the book down. There were so many great ideas that I finished the entire book in one weekend. I marked so many things I wanted to try that my thought was, if I Post-It mark every page, is that the same as having no Post-Its at all?!?

Section I: Understanding UDL

Section 1 is further broken down into the ABCs of UDL and PD for UDL. The ABCs of UDL provide helpful hints for implementing UDL in the classroom, tips for organization, ideas on involving students in the design process, and much more. Day 14 was Stock Up; this idea had a list of supplies to use in a UDL classroom such as clipboards, dry erase boards and portable timers.

PD for UDL was full of ideas for collaboration, gathering ideas, and continuing your growth as a teacher. Day 46, UDL goals, shared the importance of setting specific goals for yourself as you design your UDL curriculum to create accountability and motivation.

Section II: Teaching and Learning with UDL

Section II has three subsections: Methods of Engagement, Methods of Action & Expression, and Methods of Representation. This is the real meat of UDL and contains close to 150 ideas that can be directly implemented into lesson plans.

Methods of Engagement included many ideas from allowing students to write on the furniture with dry erase markers (Day 57) to providing student choice for assignments with a Tic-Tac-Toe style board (Day 83.) Methods of Action and Expression included ideas such as getting student input through surveys (Day 74) and having students Make a Meme (Day 130).

Methods of Representation includes ideas for making the content accessible to students. The author shared specific websites where students can “Get Organized” by creating graphic organizers (Day 147) as well as recommended TED Talks for use in presenting material to students (Day 183.)

Section III: Using UDL and Beyond

Section III contains information about Ideology and Beliefs, Collaboration, Technology, Learning Environment, Materials, Teaching Strategies, and Lesson Design. There were ideas for sharing the role of teacher with the students, using 1:1 devices for student responses, using resources such as Free Technology for Teachers, keeping lighting low in the classroom, adapting tests, and many, many more.

This book not only provided many new ideas for meeting the needs of all learners, it also reaffirmed much of what I am already doing in my classroom. Some days I think to myself, if admin walked in now they would think we are out of control; but as I reflect on our math fact practice using a Fruit Ninja styled computer game through the lens of UDL, I realize that I am meeting my learners’ needs for engagement while also involving them in valuable skills practice.

This book will be close at hand as I plan future lessons and will be a great resource to share with coworkers. I highly recommend Universal Design Daily.

Stacy Thorpe teaches Special Education in Gobles, Michigan. She recently completed her Master’s degree in Learning Disabilities at Spring Arbor University. Thorpe is always trying to find new ways to help ALL students grow and learn. When she is not teaching or researching, Stacy is spending time with her husband and three sons: cheering them on in sporting events, enjoying their musical performances, supporting their involvement on Solar Car and Robotics Teams and enjoying family campouts.

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