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Part II:
“The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) instructional model requires that teachers and students work together to set instructional goals,” (Post University, n.d., p. 1). Teachers get to know their students and their individual needs in order to set a path for creating and achieving learning goals. One of the most important components of UDL is the level of student involvement. Students are encouraged to be a part of the process of creating goals, and following their progress through self-monitoring (Post University, n.d.). A learning profile includes information on students’ strengths, skills, and interests, as well as highlight potential learning needs (Ministry of Education, 2014). Before creating a profile, it is important to meet as a team (student, parents, teacher) to discuss the purpose of the profile, who has access to it, and whether or not it can be added to/modified in the future (Ministry of Education, 2014).

“In looking for ways to include all learners in high-quality, standards-based educational settings, educators and researchers should examine ways in which the curriculum presents barriers and supports to academic achievement by diverse learners and how the curriculum can be developed to include all learners from the outset,” (Meo, 2008, p. 2). In my educational setting, we have learners of all skill levels, with varying skill sets. A teacher would think that they are at one developmental level, yet they display a set of splinter skills that could be categorized in a completely different developmental level. Getting to really know each student will assist me in figuring out how each of them learns best. What are their strengths, weaknesses, limitations? Communication with the family is key in this process; although I can observe my students, oftentimes they cannot communicate with me as to what works best when teaching them, or what can bother them to the point of dysregulation. Without getting to know them on an individual level, there runs a risk of developing goals that cannot be achieved, or that cause confusion. Teachers want to reach an effective level of teaching, one where the students can demonstrate what they have learned through transfer in order to show understanding of learning. To meet the needs of my students, creating a basic learning profile (that can be added to in the future) gives a visual of the students’ strengths, needs, learning styles, and interests. From here, I can structure my teaching so that it works with the students’ needs. Each student learns in a different style and several resources must be utilized in order to reach every student. A teacher can use several teaching tools in just one lesson; visuals can be displayed on a Smartboard with the same presentation broken down into easily read chunks available in print, while the teacher discusses the main points of the presentation/written format with the class. Hands on activities can be made available once the presentation is over. “Offering opportunities for choice often appeals to the diversity of learners within teaching and learning contexts,” (Wojcik, n.d., p. 6). Assessment is an important piece of this process; it provides an insight to student performance and determines whether or not the student is learning (Meo, 2008).
UDL is a framework that creates flexible goals, utilizes methods, materials, and assessment tools in order to accommodate varying levels of student learners (Meo, 2008). It is a great tool to help create highly effective learning. Curriculum, lessons, and goals are all tailored to meet specific student strengths and needs. Student involvement is strong, and promotes high levels of student-teacher collaboration, creating a strong feeling of trust. Involving families in this process not only cements this feeling of trust as well, but also makes them feel like their child is truly cared for and is understood. Many families at my program often find themselves at a roadblock when it comes to their children, and having the school and teachers on their side creates a high level of confidence. However, it does come with some costs. For a teacher, creating learning profiles on each student can be time consuming, or profiles that have been passed down from previous teachers may be incomplete. Resources may not be readily available to use, or is too expensive for a classroom or program to purchase. In the case of my students, some families either are unable or choose not to be highly involved in daily communication with classroom staff, making it harder to obtain answers for our questions. Another difficulty is that in order for learning profiles to be an effective part of a student’s personal portfolio, ALL personal in the school must be familiar with and know how to write a learning profile. This requires additional training and regular maintenance. In my program, we would address the topic of learning profiles as a large group professional development training, and then maintain what we have learned in a PLC: professional learning community. “Research suggests that professional development that engages teachers in instructional inquiry over an extended time through collaborative professional learning communities (PLCs) is effective in improving instruction and student achievement,” (McConnell, Parker, Eberhardt, Koehler, and Lundeberg, 2012, p. 267). We are grouped by classrooms of similarly developed students in order to support each other with change in our individual classrooms, and share knowledge learned with others so that they may use and tailor that knowledge to make it work for their students.

Creating a learning profile is a time consuming, yet invaluable tool that school personnel can use to ensure effective learning among all students. If not involved in a PLC, how can a school staff effective implement Universal Design for Learning and create working learner profiles that can work for all of the students in a school? Should the entire district also have this training? Finally, how can UDL and learning profiles be shared among school/district staff?

-McConnell, T., Parker, J., Eberhardt, J., Koehler, M., & Lundeberg, M. (2012, 4 June). Virtual professional learning communities: Teachers’ perceptions of virtual versus face-to-face professional development. Journal Of Science Education & Technology, 22(3), 267-277.

-Meo, G. (2008). Curriculum planning for all learners: Applying universal design for learning (UDL) to a high school reading comprehension program. Retrieved November 1, 2015 from rs_0.pdf

-Ministry of Education. (2014). Developing Learner Profiles. Retrieved November 1, 2015 from
-Post University. (n.d.). Developing Instructional Goals: Universal Design for Learning Instructional Model. Retrieved October 20, 2015 from
-Wojcik, J. (n.d.). Understanding by Design and Universal Design: Instructional Models for a Variety of Teaching and Learning Contexts. Retrieved October 27, 2015 from 24276952_1/courses/EDU603.901202035642/Wojcik_Understanding%20by%20Design. pdf

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