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Universal Design for Learning in action


Universal Design for Learning, or UDL, is a framework that helps teachers recognise and minimise barriers to learning, and create more flexible and inclusive teaching environments. But what does UDL actually look like in action?

This blog, the second in a three part series, features the stories of two teachers who use UDL. These teachers share their understandings and application of UDL, and offer a smorgasbord of inclusive ideas and strategies for you to take away and trial in your own classrooms.

What does UDL look like?

Linda Ojala is a teacher of year 3 students at Silverstream Primary School. She has spent several years exploring ways Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can help her meet the needs of all the learners in her classroom. Rather than trying to continually adapt learning to meet the specific needs of each and every learner in a classroom, UDL enables Linda to create an environment that is accessible for all students. She explains how UDL assists teachers in engaging students in learning, presenting learning opportunities, and supporting them in their response to learning.

What does UDL look like? from EDtalks on Vimeo.

Guiding questions  – Ngā pātai ārahi

In the video, Linda presents a series of questions that are fundamental to UDL. You can use these questions to discover your strengths and possible next steps with UDL:

  • How am I engaging my students?
  • Do I have multiple ways of representing the context of what we're learning?
  • Am I presenting it in one way or am I offering a variety of ways?
  • Am I encouraging my students to share their understanding in multiple ways?

Taking the first steps with UDL

Roxy Hickman describes how a beginning teacher used the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in the writing process. The teacher identified that some of her students needed some scaffolding in order to gather their creative ideas. By providing many options for the students to build on their thoughts and ideas, barriers to writing were removed. The teacher could then look at ways of expanding that activity so that it became a pathway for learning for all students, rather than just a one off activity.

Roxy Hickman from EDtalks on Vimeo.

Guiding question – He pātai ārahi

In the video, Roxy describes the variety of options offered to students to express their thoughts and ideas.

  • What options do you give your students to express themselves or take action?
  • Could you offer more options to enable students to participate in learning in ways that best suit them?

Supporting resources

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools – Universal Design for Learning
This comprehensive education guide provides practical strategies, suggestions, and resources to help you learn more about UDL and plan for all learners at the outset.

Universal Design for Learning VLN
This virtual learning network provides a forum for discussing Universal Design for Learning, offering connections with other educators throughout New Zealand.

Inclusive classroooms
This section of enabling eLearning provides ideas, resources, and stories to support you to use technologies as part of your learning design.

Other blogs in the series

Introducing Universal Design for Learning
In this blog you can find out about the origins and principles of UDL, and learn how UDL supports the implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum.

My journey with Universal Design for Learning
In this blog primary school teacher Adele O'Leary shares her first steps in UDL, describing the impact on her teaching and her learners.

Share your ideas

  • Computer keyboard.
    In what ways do you already apply UDL to your practice?
  • What changes might you introduce to your classroom in response to what you have read?
  • Do you have any questions or comments about Universal Design for Learning?

We would love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please email them through to nzcurriculum@tki.org.nz.