for implementing UDL practices in the inclusive virtual classroom

Planning an online UDL lesson

Planning an online UDL lesson

Planning a lesson, using the UDL framework, is a process that requires clear definition of four fundamental components: Goals; Assessments; Methods; Materials (Meyer et al., 2014).

Figure 2. UDL Cycle of instructional planning (based on Rao & Meo, 2016).

The planning process, of course, begins with a definition of what the teacher intends to achieve according to the general curriculum. Rao and Meo (2016) provide an extensive example of this process, departing from one item from the Common Core State Standards: “Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences”. They suggest that teachers answer four questions:
  1. Based on the academic standard addressed in this lesson, what are the skills and concepts that we want students to master? → Goals
  2. How can students demonstrate achievement of the identified goals in varied ways? → Assessments
  3. What supports and scaffolds can be used as part of the instruction to help students acquire the content and demonstrate what they have learned? → Methods
  4. What resources, materials, and tools can be used to provide multiple means to represent and express information and concepts or to engage with content? → Materials
In table 1, in the next pages, we will present Rao and Meo (2016) example of planning a didactical unit in English language, as an example of what can be applicable in an online environment.

Table 1. Addressing standards with UDL-based flexible lesson components in an online environment (based on Rao & Mao, 2016).

Lesson components
Unwrap the standard
  • Write narratives
  • Develop experiences or events
  • Effective techniques
  • Descriptive details
  • Clear event sequences
Step 1
Goals (develop clear goal statements)
  • Students will create narratives in written, oral, or multimedia format (chosen by students)
  • In their narratives, students will describe experiences or events
  • Students will understand elements of effective technique in narratives (e.g., including details, sequencing events clearly)
  • Students will demonstrate their knowledge of effective technique by including descriptive details and clear event sequences in their narratives.
Step 2
Assessments (develop formative and summative assessments related to goal statements)
  • As a summative assessment, teacher will evaluate student acquisition of skills through:
    • Presentations (posters or multimedia projects
    • Oral or audio-recorded presentations
    • Written narrative
  • Teacher will provide a rubric with criteria for elements that should be in the narrative in any of the formats selected by students
    • As a formative assessment, teacher will evaluate artifacts that students create as they develop their narratives. Artifacts include storyboard worksheets, graphic organizers, sequencing cards. Teacher will provide feedback during narrative development process to help students use effective technique.
    Step 3
    Methods (develop instructional strategies that integrate supports and scaffolds)
    • Student will have a choice of format
    • Students will develop the components of their narrative through activities that include scaffolds/supports
    • Students will have opportunities to practice component skills, such as describing experiences or events, incrementally (see “concepts” column)
    • As a whole group activity, teacher and students will read and analyse components of narratives; students will identify descriptive details and event sequences; teacher will highlight essential elements of a good narrative (effective technique).
    • To make connections to concepts that students are familiar with and to increase relevance and authenticity, teacher asks students to develop descriptive details about artifacts that have meaning to them (photos they take, objects from home). In small groups, students will practice developing descriptive details about their artifact. Students will develop descriptive details about their artifact in small group with peer and teacher feedback.
    • To develop concept of clear event sequences, students will develop short sequences of events, share with each other, and assess whether they make sense. Students can use a variety of tools to develop their sequences (post-it notes, index cards on which they draw images/write text, PowerPoint slides on which they place digital images and type in captions).
    • Students who prefer to develop their narratives orally will be guided to record what they will say and elaborate on their ideas with teacher feedback.
    • Teacher will provide supports for developing vocabulary and making connections to background knowledge about narratives. Students can use graphic organizers (paper or digital) to generate a word bank for their narratives, foreign language students can generate ideas using first language, etc.
    Step 4
    Materials (use materials that provide flexible ways to develop and express skills and knowledge)
    • Materials that support the student-selected formats
      • Written report
      • Poster (for presentation)
      • Multimedia presentation
    • Storyboard worksheets (paper worksheet with boxes on which students draw images and write captions)
    • Graphic organizer (paper based or digital)
    • Recording tools (apps on a mobile device or on a laptop).