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UDL PLC Suggested List of Study Topics


This self-paced resource can be used as a guide for groups who want to structure some reflection and learning about UDL into their Professional Learning Communities.  The topic suggestions and prompts are based on an online course that was used in Montgomery County Public Schools as the basis for preparing school teams to become leaders in UDL and implement its practices school-wide.

The target audience is K-12 schools who want to implement UDL practices into their classrooms, and who see an approach of using Professional Learning Communities as a valuable vehicle for school-wide implementation of new ideas.

MCPS employees interested in creating a PLC that focuses on Universal Design for Learning may want to consider joining our UDL Online Forums, which are similar, but provide an extra component of an online discussion group.

How to Use this Resource

The study topics are divided into 15 sessions.  Each session can guide a single meeting of a PLC.  Some of the topics lend themselves to having groups implement a practice in the classroom first and then come together to discuss face to face.  Sessions are presented in the order that they were used in a 3 credit course, but groups might use them in any order they wish.

See also some practical advice about setting up a UDL study PLC.

Study and Discussion Topics

Session 1-Introduction to the UDL Professional Learning Community

  • Learn: What is UDL? What is a PLC?
  • Discuss: Share why you joined the group and work together to establish a purpose for the year.

Session 2-UDL Look Fors

  • Learn: Review and learn about the UDL Look Fors
  • Discuss: Reflect on how the UDL Look Fors fit in with other practices in your school.

Session 3-UDL Story Telling

  • Learn: Review resources to help you create a digital story that demonstrate some aspect of your classroom practice.  Photo Story is one of the simpler tools for accomplishing this, but you can choose other options including but not limited to: PowerPoint slide show, Windows Movie Maker or Pixie.
  • Discuss: Share UDL Stories with each other.

Session 4-Classroom Environment and Technology Routines

  • Learn: Read about classroom space and review a video of a teacher talking about classroom routines.
  • Discuss: What is the relationship between the physical classroom environment and UDL concepts of student choice and technology routines?

Session 5-No Tech and Technology Strategies to Overcome Learning Barriers

  • Learn: Explore the premise of student learning barriers and how this can lead you to better decisions about which strategies to implement.
  • Discuss: Reflect on student barriers in your own classroom and the impact they had.

Session 6-Selecting New Technology Tools to Address Specific Learning Barriers

  • Learn: View a PowerPoint about tools, features and student barriers and explore new tools to support struggling learners through resource links provided.
  • Discuss: Contribute to a dialogue about the difference between using technology as an activity and using technology as a tool.

Session 7-Outreach Within Your School Community 

  • Learn: Learn about research that informs best practices on technology integration as well as a framework for viewing the role of an instructional coach.
  • Discuss: Reflect on how the information you’ve learned about coaching can inform your role as an instructional leader in the school.

Session 8-Time: The Big Barrier

  • Learn: Explore attitudes and behaviors around the “no time” issue by reading an article by Prensky and a synthesis of a groups’ discussion on the issue of sharing teacher materials.
  • Discuss: How does adopting a UDL mindset save you time?

Session 9-A Deeper UDL’s Impact

  • Learn: Review materials from Session 2.
  • Discuss: Tell a story about how your UDL practices have impacted a student who may otherwise be "left out."

Session 10-Electronic Graphic Organizers (Inspiration Software)

  • Learn: Review some resources to learn about Inspiration.
  • Discuss: Discuss the advantages of using digital graphic organizers and the range of possible ways to use them.

Session 11-Building Student Ownership of Choices

  • Learn: You'll read a bit about building student ownership and compare this idea to two other forces in education: Assessment as Learning and the MCPS Thinking and Academic Success Skills Indicators.  
  • Discuss: Reflect on why this concept is important.

Session 12-Sharing Teacher-Created Materials

  • Learn: Read two articles that discuss the issues of sharing, "If We Share, We're Halfway There” by Mark Prensky and "The Ethics of Sharing".
  • Discuss: Discuss the issues that impact the ability and willingness of teachers to share materials with each other.

Session 13- Web 2.0, Web Resources, and the UDL Framework

  • Learn: Review some tools for evaluating the UDL features of technology tools and websites.
  • Discuss: Reflect on what makes technology tools more flexible for students and when the tools fail to provide that flexibility.

Session 14-Planning Forward

  • Learn: Review some critical questions for maintaining the work of the UDL team.
  • Discuss: Reflect on the course and the activities within your UDL team.

Session 15-Summary and Celebration

  • Discuss: Celebrate and thank each other for the support you have given and received throughout this UDL PLC.