Reaching All Learners Through Universal Design for Learning
Why What How

Each of our students at TASIS Portugal possesses unique strengths and interests.As educators, our job is to guide each of our students to realize their potential through a rich curriculum and best practices in instructional delivery and assessment. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. The goal is to provide all students with an equal opportunity to learn.

During a recent professional development session, our faculty explored how to incorporate the three pillars of UDL into their teaching practice. UDL is based on neuroscientific research involving affective, recognition, and strategic brain networks. It includes learning experiences that use multiple means of engagement, representation, and action & expression to ensure that all students understand and apply what they have learned. This approach to lesson planning, implementation, and assessment helps learners of all ages access the curriculum in a way that connects with their individual learning styles and profiles.

Engagement

Multiple means of engagement, or the “WHY” of learning, involve how learners are interested, challenged, excited, or motivated by a topic. UDL-aligned strategies include those that optimize learner choice and autonomy while placing emphasis on relevance, value, and authenticity of learning outcomes.Collaboration and communication are encouraged as students’ affective networks are activated.

Representation

Multiple means of representation, or the “WHAT” of learning, refer to how we gather facts and categorize information based on what we see, hear, or read.UDL strategies for representation include those that present information and content in different ways.Supporting perception, language, symbols, and comprehension can be achieved through activating students’ recognition networks.

Action & Expression

Multiple means of action & expression, or the “HOW” of learning, tap into learners' interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn.Examples of tasks that activate strategic networks include planning and performing tasks, organizing and expressing ideas, writing essays, or solving math problems.Implementing strategies that support physical actions, expression and communication, and executive functions guide learners to a deeper understanding of content.

Our faculty engaged with learning about UDL through technology, interactive activities, and grade/subject-specific articles.Teachers were asked to rethink a lesson they have taught or will teach in the future and incorporate UDL-aligned strategies.TASIS Portugal teachers are lifelong learners who strive to provide the most engaging and meaningful learning opportunities for our students.

Word Wall
Amphibians Life Cycle Photo

Early Learning Center PreK2 students engaged in a Core Knowledge lesson utilizing UDL strategies.
Students created a word wall with their own pictorial representations of vocabulary words.

sources:

CAST, Inc. 2022, accessed 10 February 2022.

Kennedy Center, 2022, accessed 10 February 2022.

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