Success for All Learners Part I:

From Dream to Reality using Universal Design for Learning

By Carol Seibert

This is the first installment in a four-part series discussing Universal Design for Learning. It first appeared in the LeaderLink eNewsletter.

I have a dream… a dream I share with every other educator I’ve ever met. It’s the dream of providing the coaching, mentoring, tools, strategy and motivation that EVERY student needs in order to become a successful, life-long learner.

Our commitment to making all learners successful is evident in the abundance of learning approaches and initiatives-multiple intelligences, learning styles, brain-based learning, differentiated instruction, integrated curriculum, curriculum-based measurement, response to intervention (RTI), and more-that our schools are working hard to implement. Yet if we’re honest, many of us have to admit that no matter how hard we try, the daily realities of making these initiatives work in our real-world classrooms is an ongoing challenge. For teachers and administrators everywhere, finding an effective framework for applying these initiatives successfully in the context of our busy, diverse classrooms is tantamount to finding the “holy grail.”

One of the most exciting and promising frameworks that has been created to help us achieve our dream is Universal Design for Learning, or UDL. The beauty of UDL is that it’s not just another initiative to add on to the ever-increasing list. This framework brings our learning initiatives together and provides strategies for successfully integrating them into our day-to-day curriculum.

What is the focus of Universal Design for Learning?

  • To remove barriers to learning
  • To provide supports where they are needed
  • To engage every student in a successful learning experience

How does the UDL framework help us to do these things?

  • By providing tools for building flexibility into the educational curriculum
  • By supporting improved access to information and—more importantly—to learning itself
  • By providing multiple approaches to learning that will result in success for diverse learners.

What tools and strategies does the UDL framework provide to help us accomplish these goals?

  • Multiple means of representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge
  • Multiple means of expression to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know
  • Multiple means of engagement to tap into learners’ interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation

Over the next three installments, we will consider some of the ways that these principles of Universal Design for Learning can be applied in the real-world classroom. The next installment will start us off with ideas for providing Multiple Means of Representation to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge.

Get started on your personal UDL learning journey by checking out the following links:

Universal Design for Learning Overviews, Details and Resources

About Carol Seibert

Carol Seibert PhotoCarol Seibert is a passionate and committed educator and parent of a struggling learner. As a 20-year veteran in the field of educational technology, her contributions have ranged from design and development of research-based educational software and supplemental curriculum to development and presentation of professional development programs. Her dream is that all learners might discover and use their gifts to experience success every day.


“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn.” ~~ John Lubbock

Up Next: Part II— Providing Multiple Means of Representation

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