Prior to learning about UDL, Ms. Donaldson used print materials (books and handouts) and lectures and discussions as her primary instructional materials. Now she wants to take a more UDL approach to choosing the materials for her unit.

These are a few of the points she is considering:

  • Using many different kinds of instructional materials (a variety of texts and multi-media sources that appeal to multiple learning preferences) increases the chances that every student in the classroom will be able to access the content.
  • When students are given a choice of instructional materials, it typically builds their level of engagement for the simple reason that they have been given a choice.
  • Many students would rather use flexible instructional materials compared with fixed materials. Fixed materials are ones where the content cannot be separated from the material, meaning they cannot be altered or adjusted for particular students; examples include printed text, videos and CDs. Flexible materials are ones in which the content can be separated from the way it is presented; these materials can be manipulated to suit a student’s preferences. An example of a flexible instructional material is a digital text (and we describe some benefits of digital texts in the chart below).

As Ms. Donaldson reflects on all of this, she knows that no matter which kind of instructional materials she chooses, she will not be changing (i.e. lowering) the learning goals for any of her students. UDL does not decrease the achievement expectations for students. Instead, UDL removes barriers and increases the number of ways (and therefore the likelihood) that students will be able to access the learning at the core of their goals.

Ms. Donaldson decides that she is still going to use some print materials (including Invisible Man) with her students for this unit. Many of her students do great work with these materials, and they will still be able to use them. However, Ms. Donaldson is going to add some new instructional materials to try to reach the students who have struggled in the past (and she knows that offering these additional materials can actually only help the students who are already doing well – more options equals more learning for everyone).

Ms. Donaldson’s UDL Learning Materials

  • Digital text
    • Can be manipulated so that the words are re-arranged, made larger or different colors on a screen; this helps students with visual problems
    • Can be converted into speech to help students who have reading problems or for those who prefer to take in information auditorily rather than (or in addition to) visually
    • Can easily be adapted to include embedded scaffolding such as definitions and background information; this helps students with comprehension problems, weak vocabularies and/or little background knowledge of a new subject
  • PowerPoint presentations to accompany her lectures
    • Provides images for students who are visual learners
    • Helps to focus students who have attention issues
    • Helps to highlight key points; this benefits students with organizational problems and those who have difficulty discerning main ideas from supporting information
  • Relevant websites
    • Images and audio help students with a wide range of learning preferences
    • Embedded information (links) helps to provide context for students who are new to a subject or simply want to learn more
    • Websites are designed for many different reading and conceptual levels, allowing all students to find materials that are a good match for them

Ms. Donaldson is confident that these learning materials (and there are many more) will provide multiple ways for all of her students to access the learning she wants them to experience.

Mobile App

Produced under the leadership of Howard County Public Schools through the College and Career Readiness Support Project, this mobile application provides information about online resources and their alignment to UDL guidelines.

TIP:  More Materials… More Learning

When choosing learning materials, select a variety of levels of materials, media, and formats to reach learners with diverse abilities, styles and needs to ensure that all of your students will be able to access the content.
UDL Case Study: Instructional Materials