Universal Design for Learning (UDL) has become a commonplace term in the educational field and has been given a boost with the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) and the Dear Colleague Letter of November 2015. And when one thinks of UDL one thinks about student sitting in the general education class with supports. While this is an excellent image, UDL principles should also be applied to students who are typically in life skills or self-contained classrooms.
Educators have been given the challenge to hold every student to rigorous grade level standards. UDL can certainly allow students to stay engaged and show what they know. Project Success has provided educators with Content Connectors, which can guide the life skills teacher allowing their students to work on grade level standards.
Teachers working in the life skills classrooms are demonstrating UDL principles in their classrooms daily. They are constantly looking for ways to engage the students in their classrooms. While it can be a challenge, those teachers know that the reward outweighs the challenge. Life Skills teachers are always allowing their students to show what they know in multiple formats. Most often a tactile, hands on demonstration of their knowledge can easily replace a more standard assessment. They truly know that one size does not fit all.
The PATINS Project has addressed the need to include ALL students in an UDL environment with the creation of the UDL Lesson Creator. Teachers are walked through the process of creating a lesson plan that incorporates the UDL principles as well as considering the learning styles of ALL students.
Just think maybe someday students who are in today’s life skills classrooms can someday be fully included with proper UDL supports in the general education classroom with their peers!