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Universally Designed Lesson Plans: Teacher Candidates’ Thinking and Experiences. EECERA 17th Annual Conference Exploring Vygotsky’s Ideas: Crossing Borders Prague, Czech Republic August 30,2007 Mary Ellen McGuire-Schwartz, Ed.D.

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universally designed lesson plans teacher candidates thinking and experiences

Universally Designed Lesson Plans: Teacher Candidates’ Thinking and Experiences

EECERA 17th Annual ConferenceExploring Vygotsky’s Ideas:

Crossing Borders

Prague, Czech RepublicAugust 30,2007

Mary Ellen McGuire-Schwartz, Ed.D.

Rhode Island CollegeProvidence, RI [email protected]

the challenge
The Challenge

Access, participation, and progress in the general education curriculum for all learners

IDEA ‘97

ud origin and definitions
UD Origin and Definitions

“Consider the needs of the broadest possible range of users from the beginning”

Architect, Ron Mace

universal design
Universal Design
  • Not one size fits all – but alternatives.
  • Designed from the beginning, not added on later.
  • Increases access opportunities for everyone
origins of universal design for learning udl
Origins of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

CAST believes that “barriers to learning are not, in fact, inherent in the capacities of learners, but instead arise in learners' interactions with inflexible educational goals, materials, methods, and assessments.”

Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age, p. vi

origins of universal design for learning udl6
Origins of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)


UDL is an educational approach to teaching, learning, and assessment, drawing on new brain research and new media technologies to respond to individual learner differences.

udl and the learning brain
UDL and the Learning Brain
  • Recognition network
  • Strategic network
  • Affective network
udl and the learning brain8
UDL and the Learning Brain

One must recognize information, ideas, and concepts

One must be able to apply strategies to process the information

One must be engaged


udl theoretical framework
UDL Theoretical Framework

Task is too difficult for learner


Task is too easy for learner

udl theoretical framework10
UDL Theoretical Framework
  • Apprenticeship Learning
    • an approach that encompasses active models of skilled performance
    • scaffolds to support the learner
    • ample opportunities to practice
    • ongoing, immediate and relevant feedback
    • opportunities to demonstrate skill
udl theoretical framework11
UDL Theoretical Framework
  • Universal Design for Learning
    • Curricula, methods and materialsdesigned to meet the needs of the broadest possible range of learners
    • Supports for diverse learners are built in from the start
    • Frequently more effective for alllearners, even the “typically developing”
udl origins and definition
UDL Origins and Definition

Under UDL:

  • Careful consideration is given to the goals of instruction
  • Teachers view students along continua of skill and style differences
  • Teachers make thoughtful adjustments for learner differences
  • Curriculum materials are flexible, varied, and diverse
This research project is a small scale pilot research study which explores and documents how teacher candidates understand and use the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in lesson and unit planning during their practicum experiences with elementary students.

The participants are introduced to and trained in the principles of UDL. The participants’ thinking, experiences, and use of UDL principles in their lesson planning are documented.

The qualitative data collection includes focus groups, individual interviews, questionnaires, observations, and lesson plan reviews.

faculty research grant project
Faculty Research Grant Project
  • Universally designed lessons:

Teacher candidates thinking and


  • Began Spring 2006 semester
  • ECED 301 and ELED 300 Involved
  • Early Childhood and Elementary
  • Research continued 2006-2007
  • Research continues 2007-2008
research project
Teacher candidates in ECED 301 and ELED 300 and faculty introduced to the principles of Universal Design for Learning.

Teacher Candidates Volunteer to Participate in Research Project

Research Project
research study
Research Study
  • The research study includes:
    • An initial focus group
    • An introduction to UDL resources/tools
    • An individual interview
    • UDL support as needed
    • Final focus group
    • Survey with Lickert Scale
    • Questionnaire
universally designed lessons
Universally Designed Lessons
  • Universal Design
  • Brain Development
    • Recognition Network
    • Strategic Network
    • Affective Network
  • Vygotsky’s Theories
    • Apprenticeship Learning
    • Scaffolding
    • Zone of Proximal Development
universally designed lessons19
Universally Designed Lessons
  • Multicultural Education
    • Principles
    • Practices
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching
  • Individual Learning Styles
  • Theory of Multiple Intelligences
multiple intelligences
Multiple Intelligences
  • Linguistic
  • Mathematical-Logical
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Spatial
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalist
  • Existentialist
research project21
Research Project
  • First three research groups
  • Teacher candidates in first practicum
  • Plan a weekly thematic unit plan
  • Develop 6 Weekly Lessons
  • Trained in UDL Principles
  • Spring 2006 - 5 teacher candidates
  • Fall 2006 - 6 teacher candidates
  • Spring 2007 - 9 teacher candidates
  • Fall 2007–Spring 2008 Research
  • I learned that it is possible to teach a lesson many different ways to ensure every student understands it. (A)
  • I learned that teachers need to use various methods in teaching in order to maximize students’ learning. (H)
  • I learned how to use UDL in my lesson planning and how to overcome any teaching barriers. (J)
  • You can apply a UDL principle to anything you are going to teach… I am more aware of how students learned and what kept them engaged … because of the principles of UDL, the students understood more of the content, as they were starting to understand, you saw the involvement increase more…. And I think that the UDL … it definitely helps them to increase their involvement and their knowledge. (S)
  • I think if all teachers understood the concepts of how students learn differently, if they just try to apply those concepts to their classrooms. I think that students would want to learn. They would be more involved in their learning. It would change education in general. (N)
  • I incorporated UDL by dividing my lessons into different portions. I used UDL by varying my pedagogy and the activities that I had planned. (M)
  • By taking my observations and acting on them. I used many techniques to have the children learn and comprehend. (E)
  • I tried to present the materials in a variety of ways (J)
  • I understand that students learned in different ways so I provided them different methods. (H)
  • I incorporated UDL into my lesson plans by sitting back and thinking of every way I could teach a lesson. I thought of the different styles of learning and incorporated as many as I could into each lesson. (A)
  • Universally designed lessons incorporated diverse presentations, different expressions, flexibility, and student engagement. (A)
  • Having each lesson fit the needs of students who learn best by auditory, hands-on, visual or even through experience. Knowing what worked for the students and to plan accordingly. (K)
  • A Universally Designed Lesson has something for everyone. It includes music, pictures, objects, art, writing, discussion, etc. No matter who you’re teaching if you have a UDL lesson everyone should learn something. (A)
  • I incorporated UDL into my lessons by using visual props, pictures, books, and games to teach the thematic unit. (C)
  • I didn't just evaluate the children. I evaluated myself and how I taught and how I was using UDL and what changes I could make in my own practice. (E Focus Group)
  • They all learn and reach the goals in different ways….They are more engaged in learning. (H)
  • It created equal access for all learners by giving each learner a chance to excel at a learning style they respond to. (J)
  • All the students were able to learn something new without struggling or feeling pressured to learn a certain way. They each obtained the knowledge in their own individual way which made the lessons and overall unit plan more successful in the end. (K)
research study31
Research Study
  • Due to the small size of the original sample (Spring 2006), I continue to collect and triangulate data.
  • Data collected Fall 2006 & Spring 2007
  • Data will continue to be collected in Fall 2007 and Spring 2008
  • M. E. McGuire-Schwartz & J. Arndt, Transforming Universal Design for Learning in early childhood teacher education from college classroom to early childhood classroom.
  • Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education (2007) 28:127-139
  • http://www.cast.org/
  • http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/
  • Rose, D., & Meyer, A. (eds.). (2006). A practical reader in Universal Design for Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., & Hitchcock, C. (eds.). (2005). The universally designed classroom: Accessible curriculum and digital technologies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.
  • Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., Strangman, N. M., & Rappolt, G. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD Press.