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Ashfield Public School

Ashfield Public School

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Inclusive Education

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach used by teachers to make lessons and classrooms accessible and appropriate for individuals with different backgrounds, learning styles and abilities.

For teachers informed by the work of John Hattie’s Visible Learning, the UDL approach begins with a clear learning intention, such as this learning intention for a maths lesson: Use carrying and regrouping to multiply numbers

Using the UDL approach, the teacher then creates a range of options that enable all students, inclusive of need and ability, to work towards achieving the learning intention. Like universal design in architecture, with its stairs, ramps, and elevators, these options reduce barriers for individuals with disabilities and learning needs and also enhance opportunities for every student.

In the maths lesson, UDL in action might be a small group working with a Student Learning Support Officer as they sort MAB blocks into groups of tens with remainders. It might be other students representing a multiplication algorithm with number cards arranged on a desk instead of writing in an exercise book. 

When informed by Visible Learning, the range of options in the UDL approach is articulated as success criteria which clearly signpost to students the activities that will occur on their way to achieving the learning intention. The success criteria for the maths lesson on multiplication could include: 

  1. Use place value chart and MAB blocks to multiply single digit numbers

  2. Apply knowledge of times table to multiply single digit numbers

  3. Carry and regroup products greater than nine

  4. Multiply a two digit by one digit number  

  5. Use Post-it notes stuck to a wall to write your sum 

With the UDL approach the teacher knows that to meet the needs and preferences, individual students or groups of students will have different success criteria. However, it is important all students will have the same learning intention which is broad enough so that all students access their Stage appropriate curriculum and that all students can succeed.

The differentiated success criteria also inform the teacher about how well each child has done in relation to their ability and need. It enables future adjustments and accommodations to be made. The success criteria is used gather evidence to document and measure student growth in reference to syllabus outcomes.

It is a requirement of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers that all teachers know how to structure their lessons to meet the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of their students. Also, an increasing number of students with disabilities and learning differences are being educated in regular classrooms. Schools are of course accountable for the progress of all learners.

UDL is an approach that is about creating learning opportunities with the inherent flexibility necessary to serve diverse learning needs. It involves the careful and thoughtful preparation of resources and considered classroom management is required. UDL keeps teachers focused on their obligation to engage in an adaptive teaching practice whereby one size does not fit all if every student is to make appropriate progress.

Column uses extracts fromTeaching Every Student in the Digital Age by David H. Rose, Anne Meyer, Nicole Strangman and Gabrielle Rappolt