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UDL in 15 Minutes with Kavita Rao

The UDL Reporting Criteria

During my conversation with Kavita Rao for UDL Research in 15 Minutes, I realized that the topic was perfect for UDL in 15 Minutes, too, because the tool she was sharing is one that can be used by many. This blog will focus on the UDL Reporting Criteria tool and offer suggestions of how it can be used by people other than journal authors and journal editors.

First, I’m going to share this sentence from the tool: “The workgroup concurred that the Reporting Criteria were not “quality indicators” and are not used to evaluate the way UDL is used or to evaluate the quality of a study.” The group did not want the tool to be used to judge the quality of a lesson or environment, evaluate how UDL is used, evaluate the quality of a study. So, what does that leave? It leaves you with a tool that you can use for self-reflection and that you can use to drive conversation during a professional learning community (PLC). It also leaves you with a tool that you can use for planning and reflection.

First, I suggest reading through the entire tool, including the abstract, background, and the development of the reporting criteria. This will give you the grounding you need before you begin editing. Next, move to the tool.

I suggest you replace the word participants with the word learners. That will create an instant shift for you. Second, you will probably need to shift the point of view from authors to the educator along with the associated verb (e.g., “Authors describe” to “The educator describes”). Finally, sit back with the tool and imagine using it as a design tool for your environment or your unit or lesson. Don’t stop there, though. Think of it as a reflective too. It gives you a way to think through the lesson you just taught, how your learners were supported, and how they respond.

Planning while using UDL is a practice that includes on-the-ground thinking (e.g., How am I going to set up this activity?) to what I call 10,000 foot thinking (e.g., Let me look across the guidelines to see if I’ve provided a balance of options for all of my learners). This kind of planning is accordion-like which is why it can seem so odd at first. Most of us learned how to lesson plan using a sheet of paper with guiding words and boxes. We answered prompts. It was very on-the-ground planning. UDL requires us to look at a framework full of options and consider which ones will support our learners as they move toward the goal. That’s a different kind of thinking, but it’s the kind of thinking that needs to happen to create the kind of educational environment our students need.

The last thing I want to talk about is how to reference this tool. The UDL Reporting Criteria tool is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. What does that mean?

Creative Commons is a non-profit. Their “what we do” statement reads, “Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges.” The UDL-IRN uses Creative Common for much of its products because they want everyone to be able to modify the materials to meet the needs of their environment. They are responding to variability!

The UDL Reporting Criteria are licensed so you can reproduce and share the information in whole or in part and you can produce, reproduce, and share adapted material. Here’s the deal, though; cite it. Give credit to the original working group. Educators should support educators which means we should recognize the work of others. By doing this and talking about it with your leaners (we shouldn’t leave that conversation to the language arts teachers, every subject requires citations!), you are modeling how you’ve expanded your knowledge, how you’re being resourceful, and how the best work is derived from several sources. You’re modeling your growth as an expert learner which is a perfect gateway to supporting all of your learners to become expert learners.