6. How are the Guidelines organized and how should they be used?

UDL Center Logo

You are currently viewing version 1.0 of the UDL Guidelines. Go to Version 2.0: About this Representation

The UDL Guidelines are organized according to the three main principles of UDL that address representation, expression, and engagement. For each of these areas, specific “Checkpoints” for options are highlighted, followed by examples of practical suggestions.

Like UDL itself, these Guidelines are flexible and should be mixed and matched into the curriculum as appropriate. The UDL Guidelines are not meant to be a “prescription” but a set of strategies that can be employed to overcome the barriers inherent in most existing curricula. They may serve as the basis for building in the options and the flexibility that are necessary to maximize learning opportunities for all students. Educators may find that they are already incorporating many of these guidelines into their practice.

The Guidelines presented here are a first draft; they are an outline or précis of what will eventually emerge. While the UDL Guidelines will eventually address the whole curriculum in depth, this first effort focuses most heavily on two curricular components: instructional methods and materials. Admittedly, instructional goals and assessment do not receive adequate consideration in this initial edition but will be in later versions.

These Guidelines are labeled Version1.0 because we expect that as others contribute suggestions, we will be able to revise and vastly improve them in future “editions.” Our intention is to collect and synthesize comments from the field, weigh it against the latest research evidence, and, in consultation with an editorial advisory board, make appropriate changes, additions, and updates to the UDL Guidelines on a regular basis. This is just a beginning but, we hope, a promising one for improving opportunities for all individuals to become expert learners.


51 Responses to 6. How are the Guidelines organized and how should they be used?

  1. Cindy Frankmore says:

    This is a wonderful concept. I can see technology as a large catalyst for the ULD. I truly believe (and hope) it will be the norm for educators in the near future. Especially since we are seeing more and more ELL students in the classroom. The first thing that came to mind while reading about the ULD, was the PECS. I have a new student in my class who is a nonspeaking child. I am currently being trained in the use of PECS so this child can communicate want and needs using pictures in the classroom setting.

  2. MichelleScheid says:

    The UDL guidelines provide great tools for teachers as we attempt to meet the diverse learn needs of our students. The majority of my teaching expereince has been in bilingual education and working with students who are aquiring English as a Second Language. The UDL guidelines provide many strategies that would be benefical for teachers working with ELL students. Strategies such as movement and physical response are effective strategies for students who are still in the early stages of language acquisition. Visual cues, graphic organizers and vocabulary development are all ways to help ELL students comprehende academic language in content areas. Students acquiring a second language go through different stages of language development and UDL guidelines can help meet their communication and educational needs.

  3. Susan Archuleta says:

    Coming from Kindergarten to Preschool, has really opened my eyes with developmentally appropriate practices (DAP). I feel that UDL guidelines relate closely to DAP. I really like the fact that someone is out there trying to close the gap of “one-size-fits-all” I really enjoyed reading the guidelines, for the reason that it gave me many more ideas to implement into my classroom. I believe that curriculum has come a long way, but to fully implement the curricula I must supplement many different resources to make the curricula beneficial for my entire class.
    As I read the guidelines I realized that I do most of them just at a lower level. I use many different picture cues, my classroom is very child-directed,and my students the opportunity to make choices. I give many opportunities for expression, self-confidence, and problem solving. With the room set up with 8 different centers there is plenty of opportunity for engagement.

    • Cindy Frankmore says:


      I really think that preschool is set up with UDL in mind.We have children that may just have turned three to children almost five in our classrom. DAP for three year olds in not DAP for almost five. I was not aware how drastically different the two ages are until this year! If we are to meet the needs of all of our children then we must incorperate the ideas of the UDL, but as you stated “at a simple level”.

  4. Brindle Darden says:

    I am an inclusion teacher and I believe that the UDL guidelines are very useful when it comes to engagement and also expression. Not all students learn in the same manner and not all students are able to express themselves the same as well. By allowing multiple means of expressions to gather understanding and to keep engagement allows for students to be more focused. Also using materials in diverse ways is very helpful. For example, after reading our book of the week, some of my students may write in their binders, some decide to use the computer to gather materials and create items from story; some students even prepare presentations to class. We also sometimes do readers theater, they really enjoy that.

    • Janelle Talaasen says:

      Brindle, I am wondering if your students would benefit from self regulation or if they currently use those techniques. When I was in school, I was not taught many of those skills.

      • Laura Barr says:

        How do you teach children the skill of self-regulation? I have a little boy that doesn’t seem to manage his feelings and I stuggle with how to teach him to even ask for adult help before getting upset and acting out. Any ideas?

      • Brindle Darden says:


        I do believe that self regulation skills are very important and should be taught within the curriculum. Many times these skills are not taught, but I try to incorporate them through games. These skills are essential in early childhood and should be taught then not at adulthood. For example, I try to teach simple games when we are transitioning from one activity to the next such as simple games involving children following directions. I modify “Simon Says” to “Mrs. Darden Says” when transitioning to another activity to incorporate self-regulation, while turning learning into a fun activity. Children will forget they are even in school!

      • Janelle Talaasen says:

        Brindle, I think you have some great ideas. Do you remember my little guy with the “challenging behavior” of talking all the time? I am wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to teach him some self regulation? I have thought about video taping him. Last week he and a few of my other kindergarten students had trouble with self regulating! My supervisor is of very little help in addressing their needs so I am trying to find help on my own. I feel very inadequate when I have 15 or more children who have different needs along with parents who have different needs! Any suggestions are appreciated!

    • Susan Archuleta says:

      What age do you teach? After we read a book, my students might reenact it in house center, or relate an object from block center to the story, or they might draw a picture of the story in art center. Allowing different means of expression, does allow for individuals to blossom at their rate.

    • Brindle Darden says:


      I think it is a great idea to video tape the student in your class with the challenging behavior. When video taping you can use that to review and study to find successful ways to intervine. Also try creating some of the simple self-regulation games as well may help.

  5. Susan Tuck says:

    Universal Design for Learning perfectly expresses developmentally appropriate practice for preschool children. Each child learns in their own unique fashion and providing multiple means of allowing children to experience learning in their own way maximizes knowledge acquisition. Children have a variety of ways to be exposed to the learning and they are allowed various methods and multiple opportunities for demonstrating their knowledge. By capitalizing on children’s interests and prior experiences, teachers can enhance motivation.
    UDL meets the challenge of diversity by offering alternatives that provide support and choice for all students. Children with limited language skills can demonstrate their understanding through art or movement or through construction in the block center. They have many experiences with a wide variety of materials.

    • Laura Barr says:

      I agree that UDL is designed to meet all the needs of children. All classrooms have children with diverse needs and therefore instruction needs to be just as diverse. Using the UDL guidelines will help ensure that all children get the education they need.

  6. Laura Barr says:

    The UDL guidelines are essential in an early childhood classroom because all the children come in at different levels with different experiences and different interest. It only makes sense that as teachers we need to present the content in a variety of ways, allow children to show us what they have learned in different ways and to use strategies that encourage active engagement. This can be done in early childhood by manipulating the play environment, engaging children in circle time activities by using a variety of modalities, and facilitating play that is children directed. For example, if the content is around community helpers, the teacher can; supply community helper clothes and hats in the dramatic area, conduct circle time with visuals and songs around community helpers, as well as having the children take the lead in playing opportunities by choosing to play with community helper puzzles, or taking on a pretend role along with children.

    • Janelle Talaasen says:

      From my experiences, it seems like early childhood classrooms are more UDL friendly compared to higher grade levels where it seems like teachers are on some a regimented curriculum that children are not able to explore mathematical principals through their interest areas, etc. In addition, some children need more movement to help them learn yet they are stuck in desks all day. The UDL guidelines have really challenged me to think outside of the box and be more creative in order to meet the needs of my students.

      • Cindy Frankmore says:

        I couldn’t agree more. I was thinking as I was reading posts, I have yet to see such methods used in the upper grade levels. I also wondered if it was due to pressures such as testing,lack of time or interest. I have seen many issues addressed at our PLC meetings but none with answers that even touch on the topic of the ULD.

    • Kendy Valdez says:


      I agree with you that children have different learning styles and it is the teacher’s responsibility to manipulate the classroom environment accordingly.


    • Julie Krich says:


      Thematic planning is a fantastic way to apply UDL in the early childhood classroom. By applying the theme throughout centers and across activities you allow children to access the curriculum through different modalities and in within activities that are motivating to them.

  7. Laura Barr says:

    The UDL guidelines are essential in an early childhood classroom because all the children come in at different levels with different experiences and different interest. It only makes sense, that as teachers, we need to present the content in a variety of ways, allow children to show us what they have learned in different ways and to use strategies that encourage active engagement. This can be done in early childhood by manipulating the play environment, engaging children in circle time activities by using a variety of modalities, and facilitating play that is children directed. For example, if the content is around community helpers, the teacher can; supply community helper clothes and hats in the dramatic area, conduct circle time with visuals and songs around community helpers, as well as having the children take the lead in playing opportunities by choosing to play with community helper puzzles, or taking on a pretend role along with children.

  8. Kendy Valdez says:

    Universal design for learning creates an environment that uses flexible goals, methods, uses various materials, and assessments in order to meet the needs of diverse learners. When looking at how UDL works in the classroom, as far as the curriculum, one must look at the “what, the “how”, and the “why” of learning. There are three brain networks that need to be customized in order to teach individual differences. They are multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and expression, and multiple means of engagement. Let’s look at these three areas for early childhood education.

    The multiple means of representation is used to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge. This is integrated into the lesson plans by providing options for perception, visually and/or auditorily. When implementing an activity such as introducing a letter Aa, the teacher would introduce the sound of the letter as well as what the letter looks like. This can be done by singing songs, reading poems or stories, instruction, displaying the letter, and/or finger plays. Another way a teacher can use the means of representation is through language environment. This can be done by using both symbols and words/letters throughout the environment. Comprehension, another way to use the means of representation, can also be used throughout the classroom environment. For example, if you read the story The Three Little Pigs, you should incorporate the story in all of the areas in the classroom: brick blocks in the block area, twigs and straw in the art area, flannel boards in the library area, worksheets in the writing area, pig and wolf manipulatives in the math area, and pig and wolf costumes in the house area.
    The multiple means of Action and Expression is used to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know. This can be done through physical action, which should be an everyday activity for the students through; music and movement and outside/gym opportunities. Music and movement is a great way for students to communicate, problem solve, and the opportunity to give children the opportunity to express themselves. Whenever an activity is introduced to the students, the teacher must explain the goals and objectives for the activity. This gives the students a reason to do the activity. If the teacher gives an assignment without explaining what they want the child to learn, how and why would the student want to do it?
    The multiple means of engagement will tap into the learner’s interest, offer appropriate challenges and increase motivation. It is very important for the teacher to understand and know the capabilities of each student within their class. Then he/she must set goals for each student to achieve a certain success. The lesson plans, curriculum, and instruction must then help the students reach their individual goals. The teacher must teach coping skills and strategies to the students so they can reach the goal. Teachers must not only evaluate and observe the students, but must also develop a way to assess themselves and reflect upon what works and does not work.

    • Susan Tuck says:

      Hi Kendy,
      I was just reading your response to Dr. Sundeen about enjoying even the oddities of our students. It made me think about a sentence in our textbook, An Activity Based Approach to Early Intervention, that I really liked. The text says, “To maximize children’s progress, it seems best to adopt the approach with the greatest likelihood of success and then to employ this approach with genuine enthusiasm and the belief that it will be effective.” UDL seems like the best approach. One of my favorite things about teaching in the early childhood field is that we can be creative and offer children many ways to understand concepts. I always look forward to going to work and it seems to be mainly because we have so many creative and meaningful avenues to teach our diverse learners.

      • Janelle Talaasen says:

        The comment about enjoying the oddities of children really struck me this week. It has been a very challenging week and I need to really enjoy and appreciate the oddities of my students. However “in the moment” it is sometimes very difficult to do! I am working with “typically” developing children and quite honestly I miss working with children who have special needs. Then I realize that even though my students are “typically” developing, they still have their little quirks and oddities. Thank you for the encouragement!

      • Todd Sundeen says:

        Susan – While I truly appreciate the essence of your post, your honest enthusiasm is what is inspiring to me.

        Janelle – Hang in there…we are nearing a short break and headed towards the longer holiday vacation! I am glad that Kendy’s post has helped you feel more encouraged.

      • Cindy Frankmore says:

        Susan, your post was so positive! I have seen educators who, beacause they felt forced,failed at using alternate methods to meet the needs of students. I think that attitude and an open mind are two attributes of a successful teacher.

  9. Gayle Sjoerdsma says:

    As a teacher of a variety of grade levels and years it is very apparent that there is no perfect curricula. In fact, it is probably that very fact that causes teachers to use a bit of this curricula and a dab of several others in an effort to meet all children’s varying instructional needs, cultural needs and state and federal standards. The current number of young children in my classes in the past few years whose first language is something other than English has greatly increased. Plus the number of first languages have increased as well. Therefore the translation web sites are extremely valuable as curriculum has broad suggestions for general modifications, but nothing specific to each culture or language.
    Secondly, teaching 3 -5 year old children, some of whom speak 5-10 words total has helped me become creative about discovering what children know. Children must be given a chance to receptively indicate their knowledge with simple pointing or presenting of an object, rather than attaching an expressive label to each. Also, the option of movement, music, or drawing can provide great insight for me into what a child has learned and experienced. The children have journals that they draw in and we write the words that they say to describe their picture. I have a current student who memorizes a song’s tune after hearing it 3 times. He can sing the notes back, but his vocabulary is limited to about 25 words. These multiple means provide my students with means to communicate their knowledge.

    • Todd Sundeen says:

      Gayle – I honestly hope that we never arrive at a place in the field of education at which we deem a single curriculum or mode of presentation as optimum. Part of the joy of teaching for me is finding ways to reach children that seem out of reach. It is the small victories that they experience which help to move our children to a better state of understanding. Your use of music is a wonderful example.

      • Kendy Valdez says:

        Dr. Sundeen,

        I went to a training this morning on Autism. The trainer summed it up for me. She said in order to be a quality teacher you must “enjoy the child’s oddities”. This is so true. Rather than trying to fix them, you should enjoy them as part of who the child is.


      • Todd Sundeen says:

        I have never heard it summed up that way before. The trainer is correct in saying that we must not try to “fix” the child. Rather, we need to develop or change our teaching to meet the needs of all children.
        Well said!

    • Julie Krich says:


      You are right that children can demonstrate their knowlegde receptively. We can also teach them alternate means of expressing themselves, such as using picture icons, sign language, or alternative communication devices. On Friday I observed a first grade student with autism independently use an electronic communication device to make a request. It was a moment of celebration for her!

  10. Cassandra Tapia says:

    I really enjoyed the guidline checklist. I found it to be helpful and very much user-friendly. I think it’s something that as teachers that we all tend to need a little bit of help in; are the different areas that were on the checklist. Engaging children in the classroom is one thing, but keeping their interst a completly different thing. To do both is important. As a new teacher I’m always looking for ways to help my classroom,enhances things, or simply modified something or add to it! The guideline checklist applies to Earlychild Hood Special Education in so many ways.Not only does it list important things in the classroom, but it makes you take that extra on how to enhance each activity or center to fit all learning styles and all learning abilites! I really enoyed the checklist and use it again!!

  11. Brittani Sauer says:

    As a first grade teacher, I find the UDL guidelines very helpful to structure teaching in a way that reaches all my learners. I have many students who are at a variety of different levels and learn in so many different ways. My student’s learning styles are, in fact, as unique as their fingerprints!

    Young children are active and generally do not maintain focus on any one thing for more than a couple of minutes. Therefore, holding their engagement is particularly challenging. I always try to remember that giving young children (both with and without disabilities) choices or options for learning is a great way to establish engagement from the start. If my first graders finish work early, they have a list of options to choose from for what learning they can do next. I have also found that differentiation is a large part of active engagement. If the child is bored or frustrated, engagement is lost. I have worked hard this year to differentiate seatwork for my students during guided reading rotations. Young children want to succeed, so providing ongoing descriptive feedback and giving time for reflection is very important. I try to conference with each of the children in my class by walking through the checklist/rubric I provide them with for complete sentences. I provide direct feedback during these conversations to help the child improve and/or maintain his/her writing.

    • Todd Sundeen says:

      Brittani – You make excellent points about engaging young learners. Within the context of UDL, multiple means of engagement are crucial to improving learning. What role do you feel technology should play in creating multiple means of engagement?

      • Brittani Sauer says:

        I currently engage learners using a doc camera which allows the children to view books, papers, charts and any other real life object with a projector. The image or object is projected onto a screen or whiteboard. This sort of technology engages many different styles including those who are visual, kinestetic, and auditory learners. The children can not only see what I am talking about, they can experience it. Children are amazed at how this works and I generally have about 90-100 percent engagement when I incorporate it into my lessons.

      • Todd Sundeen says:

        Brittani – It is interesting that you mention a doc camera. I taught at a Title I school and convinced my principle to purchase one without knowing the full extent of it usefulness. I found that I could use it for any content area. For example, young readers could all look at the detail of a book cover and make predictions about the story; students could watch as I manipulate science materials. When I left that school, I did not have a doc camera (ELMO) available. So…I went on eBay and bought my own. They are available for only about $150. It has been worth every penny. In fact, moments ago I finished using it in my teaching here at UNC. This is just one of the examples of how UDL can truly enhance the learning of all students.

    • Kendy Valdez says:


      I commented on the other site, but I will comment here as well. I really like the idea about the rubric for your childen. This gives them the opportunity to know what is expected of them and what they need to do to accomplish the assigned task. It is very informative. I think that if you explain to children what you are expecting of them and the reason for the current assignment, they will respond more positively.


  12. Janelle Talaasen says:

    I think UDL is relatively easy to apply to early childhood programs because most programs are multi-sensory and flexible. In addition, early childhood special education teachers are required by the nature of their job duties to be able to teach, engage and encourage children in multiple ways. As I read through the principles of UDL, I was challenged to think outside of the box and how I could promote learning to a higher level.

    I currently work in a before/after school program. My students range in age from preschool to fifth grade. Using UDL, I am able to meet a larger variety of students’ needs. The challenge is being able to know my students well enough to know how they learn best, their interests, and how to modify and accommodate the classroom environment and their activities to maintain their attention. The corporation has ideas on how to operate the program which I appreciate, but I also want the flexibility to customize my own program to meet the student’s needs, interests and provoke their learning within the framework of their individuality.

    • Laura Barr says:

      I taught Middle School Special Edcuation for 4 years and found that the UDL guidelines were ever so helpful in meeting the wide range of abilities. Of course, just like teaching, it improves through experience and practice.

  13. Julie Krich says:

    I am an early childhood educator. I think that UDL is easily applied in the early childhood curriculum. We start by equipping our classrooms with toys and materials that engage multiple senses and are appropriate for various developmental levels. This gives us abundant opportunities to engaged students in activities that they enjoy. Children then practice skills within routines or activities that are meaningful to them.

    • Susan Tuck says:

      Hi Julie,
      As early educators, I agree, we have been using UDL for a long time. From setting up our environments with materials and equipment on low shelves that allow all children access and independent use, to offering multiple learning modalities for concepts, UDL is an underlying teaching practice. Mixed age classrooms also challenge the teacher to offer learning experiences to meet various developmental levels.

      • Janelle Talaasen says:

        Susan, I agree totally with your comment about how mixed age classrooms can really challenge the teacher. I am in that situation right now. I teach at a before/after school program. I have children from ages 3 to 10. Yesterday afternoon was awful because there was so much chaos – loud children, children saying mean things to each other, etc. I put activities out, but they do not want to do what the program dictates. Many of the children love to draw, cut, paste, etc. I will be really studying UDL and thinking of how I can better meet my children’s learning needs.

    • Susan Archuleta says:

      As an Early Childhood educator, I love the abundance of learning opportunities that are allowed through out the day. I agree with you that all the different materials that set up our rooms, allow for diverse learning.

  14. Todd Sundeen says:

    Hello Janet,
    My Early Childhood Curriculum class here at the University of Northern Colorado have been given the assignment to blog here on your site. I hope that a very informative discussion will take place among the class and others who may be viewing your site.

    Also, I am a huge proponent of CAST and all that you do for education.
    Todd Sundeen

  15. Todd Sundeen says:

    Hello –
    This is a test to determine whether my comments will appear in the blog above.
    Thank you.

  16. Deb Black says:

    Don’t stop what you are doing! My sons have had conversations to me about teachers/professors like you. They find those like you to be the most committed and the most inspiring! You are one of the ones who will make a difference for the future.You represent the changes that need to be made!

  17. Norm Benson says:

    The strength of UDL is in its ability to engage students at all levels. It is imperative that we provide opportunities for students to express themselves. It is not enough anymore to expect all students to show what they have learned with only a paper and pencil.

  18. Dorothy Magoffin says:

    Dear Sam,

    One size does not fit all – this applies to us – teachers as well. Keep up your amazing work – who knows – you may be the one who just inspires the one!

    I commenced high school three decades ago and recently returned to a high school setting to be astounded: everything has changed and nothing has changed – how can that be?

    I am learning how to use electronic whiteboards and ipods and how to hold my tongue when I hear a teacher criticise a disengaged student or a learning difficulty student labelled as lazy; to hold my tongue against myself as I too don’t have the answer and sometimes not even the question. UDL – clinical teaching – research into brain functioning – what it is to be human – I wish I had started my research many years ago

    I am reminded of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People- begin with the end in mind. The concept of a disabled curriculum resonates with me – I’d like to see Career Education a middle school imperative – identify strengths and interests and match curriculum to the student and to possible pathways to future employment – real relevance. Strengthen student choice and ownership of learning early by exploring options and explicitly teaching to difficulties such as reading and study skill weaknesses and above all listen to the students – get them involved.



  19. Cam Caldwell says:

    I try hard to engage students — taking nine students to conferences to present papers this past month alone!

    I make my students write. I make them do real research and hold them accountable to real world standards of excellence. Many don’t “get it.” Few of my students even demonstrate the skills to write a meaningful journal or learning log — even after I provide examples.

    My experience is that most of my students have been used to being spoon fed — and I teach seniors and graduate students. Few students even engage in class discussions. I am working hard to change the culture — and my colleagues have said, “We don’t like your methods.”

    My sense is that many academics are absolute frauds. They are not current, they don’t demonstrate professional skills, they don’t want to work.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: