My Epic UDL Fails

I had the great pleasure of giving a UDL Talk two weeks ago at the 2019 UDL IRN International Summit. I spoke about something that I think we all need to be more vocal about – our missteps, falls, mistakes, setbacks, and outright failures during UDL implementation. Implementation takes time, and I am not talking about a month or even a year. According to the National Implementation Network, we should expect full implementation to take more like four to seven years. And what is “full implementation” exactly? That’s when half of your staff is fully on board – just half.

Expert Learning, Equity & Making Cookies

Mother & daughter making cookies

One of my best friends, Kate, regularly blesses us with drool-worthy confections worthy of winning fine arts awards. She is the ultimate expert baker. Every cupcake, cookie, and cake is perfection – moist, crunchy, chewy – and just as it should be in its perfect form. I, on the other hand, am no expert baker. My cookies are flat, my brownies are dry, and I only make cake from a box. I know why. It’s not worth the effort. I rarely measure with the precision baking requires. I don’t invest in high quality ingredients. I just don’t love sweets that

Better Professional Development in 5 Steps

Teachers engaged in professional development

They didn’t build Rome in a day, and we certainly can’t educate our kids in a day. But all too often our systems limit professional development for teachers to a single intensive day on a new program, initiative, or framework. An intensive PD day shouldn’t be a single event, it should be part of a longer learning journey. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has taught us time and time again that it is not our students who are disabled – it is our curriculum, our assessments, and our systems that are disabling to our students. When we remove barriers to

UDL Implementation Rubric

UDL Implementation Rubric by Melissa Toland

If you’ve had a chance to review the UDL Progression Rubric, you probably recognize that UDL isn’t a framework that you can implement overnight. It takes years – not weeks or months – to reach expert level and it’s easy to see how anyone, even the most experienced teachers, could get overwhelmed. For those just getting started, evaluating where you are in the UDL implementation process on a checkpoint by checkpoint basis might simply be too much. When Melissa Toland of Ocean View School District reached out suggesting a simplified version for the time-strapped or overwhelmed teacher, I was totally

UDL Flowchart in Spanish – Flujograma DUA

See in English Translation by Juan Gallardo Proporcionar múltiples medios de motivación; proporcionar múltiples medios de representación; proporcionar múltiples medios de acción y expresión. Con solo un vistazo, es fácil interpretar los tres principios del Diseño Universal para el Aprendizaje (DUA) por lo que son: ofrecer opciones a los estudiantes. Parece fácil. Sin embargo, si todo lo que hacemos es ofrecer opciones apenas estamos rozando la superficie de lo que es la implementación del DUA a escala completa. Cuando el DUA se implementa en todo su potencial, nuestros esfuerzos se traducen en aprendices expertos: estudiantes que tienen un propósito y

Announcing Online Courses

Announcing Online Courses

We are so thrilled to announce our first online course, Universally Designing the PreK – Grade 2 Classroom, is open for enrollment. Here at Novak Educational Consulting, we have always believed that educators deserve the same amazing educational experiences as their students. But as a practicing administrator, I also understand and recognize that it’s sometimes hard to provide the level of professional development and support teachers really need to nurture them through the process of implementing new programs, tools, and frameworks in their classrooms. We wanted to do something to supplement the professional development and implementation support teachers have access

UDL Flowchart – Moving Beyond Choice

UDL Flow Chart

Provide multiple means of engagement. Provide multiple means of representation. Provide multiple means of action and expression. At a glance, it is easy to interpret the three principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for what they are: offering options to students. It seems like a simple feat. But offering choice is just skimming the surface of full-scaled UDL implementation. When UDL is done well, its efforts result in expert learners: students who are purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgable, strategic and goal directed. When you examine this – the end goal of UDL – it’s clear that you will

UDL and writing limits: should they co-exist?

The question may seem like a simple one on the surface: How does asking students to write using word counts or paragraph numbers as success criteria support expert learning through the UDL framework? When my colleague, Joni Degner, recently forwarded an email posing this question, it gave me pause. Why do we so regularly impose writing limits on students? 1000 words. 5 paragraphs. 3000 characters. She wanted fellow UDL experts to weigh in, and we did. For starters, none of us found any research that supported the idea of using word counts or other writing limitations when assigning lessons. But

What is UDL? [Infographic]

What is UDL?

Too many educators feel that their autonomy has been taken away by standards, scripted curriculum, and ultimately, standardized testing. It doesn’t have to be this way. We need our systems designed to meet the needs of our students, not a test, and give our teachers back the independence to proactively design lessons that engage and support all students. When we teach students to become expert learners who are purposeful and motivated, resourceful and knowledgable, and strategic and goal-directed – the goals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – improved test results will come. Rigorous state-standards will be met. Students will