How to Help Children Succeed in School and Life with UDL

UDL Allows Students to Choose Their Own Path

Have you ever hopped in your car, turned on the GPS, mindlessly followed the instructions and arrived at your destination without remembering the drive? There are multiple ways of getting from point A to point B, but so often we allow a machine to tell us which turns to take and which path to follow. We decide it knows best and we should trust it. But in the midst of this trust, we miss the shady hollows, glistening sunsets, and chaotic overgrowth of the backroads. There is beauty in it, and it remains unexplored. If you have witnessed a child

The Magic of Getting in Trouble for Something I Didn’t Do

There was only one teacher in my entire life who yelled at me. Don’t get me wrong, I was no perfect child and you’re welcome to contact my parents to verify that. In school, however, it was a different story. I was a good kid. I behaved myself and was respectful and although I was not a stellar student in the GPA department, I completed my work and participated in class. “Pleasure to have in class,” popped up on my report cards like confetti. That was until I had physical science class in high school. In all fairness, my friends

Inclusion vs. Inclusive Practice in Teaching

“Inclusion” and “Inclusive Practice” are often used interchangeably in the education world, but there is more to inclusive practice than togetherness. Inclusion takes an important step in the right direction by making sure all students, regardless of variability, are present in the same classroom. But in order for inclusion to be effective, you must also implement inclusive practice. Inclusive practice is bigger than getting all students in the same classroom; inclusive practice gives all students the opportunity to learn, be supported, and be challenged, regardless of variability. Implementing inclusive practice requires effective leadership and support, opportunities for professional development, and

A Universally Designed Ride on the Polar Express?

A Universally Designed Ride on the Polar Express?

I experienced something with my six-year-old son last weekend. The incident made me realize that it’s possible… just maybe…that I am nailing this parenting thing. Last weekend, we headed up to North Conway, New Hampshire with my parents, my sister and her family, my husband, and our four kids. In typical Novak fashion, we all purchased matching pajamas, rented a beautiful home called the Tin Mine Lodge lodge and spent hours eating popcorn, M&Ms, and having an epic Christmas movie marathon. On Saturday night, we had tickets to go the Polar Express. On the train car, Christmas music blared through

I’m Thankful for Teachers

I'm Thankful for Teachers

As I sit down at my computer on this Thanksgiving morning, I can’t help but think of how thankful I am for all the teachers in my life. As the daughter of two teachers, my life, from my first breath, was impacted by educators. Now, as I look back, I realize that many of the people who truly mattered to me stood at the front of classrooms. These thoughts are in light of a recent Forbes article which celebrated the “Top 30 Under 30” in education. Not a single classroom teacher made the cut. It would be ridiculous if it

Announcing Let Them Thrive

Parent Guide to UDL

This past year, I often found myself wishing I were blogging more. There is just so much to cover in education, and I want to share everything I can to help teachers and administrators successfully implement UDL and transform education. However, my lack of posts over the last 12 months wasn’t that I wasn’t writing. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I found that while more and more teachers and administrators were getting on board with UDL, the more important it became for parents to understand the UDL framework, why it is being implemented in schools, and how they

The Death of Lecturing and Rise of UDL

The death of lecturing and rise of UDL

“Anyone, anyone?” The air is filled with silence. The boredom in the room is palpable. You are the real-life version Ben Stein’s economic teacher portrayal on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and it’s pretty embarrassing. It’s not your fault. Today’s kids are running on empty. They are multi-tasking out of their minds, and are taking part in the 8 billion times a day Americans are checking their phones. Distractions are everywhere and when left to their own devices (literally!), children never have to feel boredom. The rise of technology has made it very easy for us, and our students, to become

Summer Reading Magic

I have to start off by saying that I work with the most amazing teachers in the universe. My high school English department, lead by chair, Kelly Cook, is just one example of how the kids in our two towns hit the jackpot. Last week Cook sent me the department’s UDL-ified summer reading revamp, appropriately titled, “Summer Language Exploration” which started off with words, “We used to limit this assignment to summer reading only, but we know that many students are ardent viewers,  creative writers, journalists, movie makers, actors, vocabulary vultures, conversationalists, storytellers, and more. We want them to tap into their passions,

Vermont + UDL = Magic!

Hello fabulous Vermonters! I have had a wonderful day collaborating with you! Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all worked in the same district? Magic! I wanted to share the Powerpoint I presented. You are welcome to use/revise and share with your staff. Also, feel free to contact me any time. You can reach me in any/all of the following ways: Email: Twitter handle @KatieNovakUDL LinkedIn Facebook Lastly, a few of you asked about my book, UDL Now. You can purchase UDL Now! on Amazon or if you are interested in buying bulk and receiving a huge discount, contact CAST directly. For 10-49

Kia ora ULearn 14!

Thank you for the kind welcome to New Zealand. I am honored to give a keynote address and present two break-out sessions at ULearn14 in Rotorua. If you’re interested in any of the presentations or handouts, you can access them here. Also, additional resources are provided if you wish to explore the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines in more detail. Don’t forget to connect at #ULearn14 on Twitter! Keynote Presentation: Thursday, October 9 View Thursday Key Note Powerpoint in Google docs Download Thursday Key Note Powerpoint to your device To view UDL Guidelines, click here If you want to explore the UDL Guidelines