What is Universal Design for Learning?
“Universal design calls for planning for the needs of the broadest possible range of users.
Within an educational framework, universal design refers to a similar approach in designing and delivering products and services, such as curricula, instruction, and evaluations.
Application for Special Education
For students with LD and ADHD, who may struggle with traditional teaching methods, UDL offers the opportunity to access learning in ways that utilize their strengths rather than focusing on their deficits.
Students’ individual learning styles are taken into account, in order to take advantage of the different ways in which they are able to learn.
Brain research tells us that lecturing to students and then asking them to repeat the information or using standard textbooks are not the best ways of getting the message across.
Rather, a student must be engaged in order to learn.
Teachers are encouraged to vary the ways in which they present information, regardless of a student’s learning abilities. For example, material may be presented orally, visually in images, as in videos or DVDs, in song, through music, in Braille, and kinesthetically in hands-on activities.
Because students learn better when they are motivated and engaged, teachers need to allow students to explore their own interests, and consider developmental and cultural concerns. Some need repetition; others thrive on novelty and surprise.
In an environment that applies the principles of UDL, students are given choices, for example, a menu of activities from which to select their preferences. The amount of support and challenge is also varied, again depending on the student’s abilities.
Students are also encouraged to demonstrate what they have learned in a variety of ways. For kids who can’t express themselves well in writing, a traditional written assignment may be a poor measure of their learning.
While the need for students to take written exams cannot be ignored, it should not be the only way to determine what they know.
Simply put, UDL allows all students to access information and be evaluated in ways that take advantage of their abilities—rather than requiring them to learn in ways that allow their deficits to become barriers to success.”
Go to SMARTKIDS with LD for the complete article – Universal Design for Learning: Opening Doors for Students with LD and ADHD
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