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UDL Spotlight [clear filter]
Monday, July 31


Creating Courageous Conversations & Actions Steps for Equitable Learning in Co-Taught Inclusive Classrooms

What does it take to create a truly meaningful inclusive classroom setting? How can we apply moral courage in the classroom? Through a process of awareness and collaboration, educators can mindfully make ANY inclusive setting a place where each learner feels a sense of belonging that can transcend learning beyond the moments of instruction.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides the language, concepts, research, and mindset necessary to guide teachers to co-create a shared mission as they eliminate barriers in the curriculum and create a dynamic learning process. According to Linda Darling-Hammond (1997), educators must engage in democratic discourse to create a harmonious learning ground. Singleton (2015) stated this democratic discourse can only occur when the time and space for courageous conversations occur. This workshop will explore how co-teachers, administrators, professors, and all learners can use a courageous conversations framework to reveal equitable, inclusive learning experiences.

Participants will:

  • Connect with the narrative of inclusion from a students' perspective to empower your advocacy steps. 
  • Engage with the four agreements and consider how the courageous conversations structure may pave the way for meaningful inclusive experiences.
  • Consider how the courageous conversation compass can be a powerful navigation tool for you--as a champion of learners in inclusive settings!  


Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). The Right To Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools That Work. San Francisco, CA:  Jossey-Bass.

Singleton, G. E. (2014). Courageous conversations about race: A field guide for achieving equity in schools.
     Thousand Oaks, CA:  Corwin Press.




avatar for Elizabeth Stein

Elizabeth Stein

Special Education/UDL Instructional Coach, Smithtown Central School District
Elizabeth Stein’s career spans early intervention, grades k-12, and undergraduate and graduate level courses. Elizabeth is a special education teacher for more than 25 years, and is currently a special education and Universal Design for Learning Instructional Coach in Long Isla... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Bayview Room


Danger of Teaching from a Dominant Cultural Narrative
Session Goal:
  •  I want folks to walk away inspired to discover the internal narratives (hopes, joys, fears, and worldview) of their learners and use those to create amazing lessons. 
We all have a culture. Think about your background, heritage, and world view. Think about your story. Our stories are cornerstones to what creates variability and in a large part what make us beautiful as a people. The danger of our stories is when we assume everyone else we come in contact with shares the our same story. This is of paramount importance in the classroom which is litered with historical examples of the dominant narrative underpowering and undervaluing the perspective and worldview of people groups that fall outside of it. UDL gives us the tools to both recognize that our own values and preferences may not be the same as our students and to start to look for ways to better understand our students' worldview in our quest to make concepts we need to teach matter to our students.  

Session Prezi: http://tinyurl.com/Narratives-UDL

avatar for Zach Smith

Zach Smith

Instructional Specialist, Sanger Unified School District
Hi! My name is Zach Smith. I am one of the folks heading up Universal Design for Learning within Sanger a small town in the heart of California. I can't wait to tell you about all the exciting things happening in Sanger Unified around UDL! I am also super excited to learn from y... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Ballroom C


Investigating our Own Variability: Beliefs and Behavior
The theory of dynamic systems states that all behavior, including learning, occurs based on an interaction between the context and the individual. Since neither is a
constant (context changes moment to moment as do the affective and physical aspects of being human), variability is an expected outcome. Using a trajectory of this
theory, if how we come to knowledge and skills varies (the input), logic would hold that how we design and instruct (the output) would also be variable. In addition, part of
that variability is informed by our beliefs and subsequent behaviors which are determined by our own experiences.
According to Gay and Kirkland (2003), one premise of accountable, culturally responsive teaching states "teacher accountability involves being more self-conscious,
critical, and analytical of one's own teaching beliefs and behaviors" (p. 181). From that premise, the UDL-focused question becomes, how do we apply our variable
beliefs and behaviors in light of culturally responsive teaching? This talk will introduce the concept of being a variable educator and suggest ways we can all become
more self-aware of our beliefs and behaviors and use that awareness to incorporate culturally responsive teaching practices in our instruction.

avatar for Loui Lord Nelson

Loui Lord Nelson

UDL Specialist, RAISE, Inc
Loui Lord Nelson, Ph.D. is an educational consultant whose work focuses on Universal Design for Learning. A former special education teacher, she is a member of CAST’s cadre, has been an invited facilitator at several UDL institutes, provides guidance in UDL to schools, distric... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Founders room


J's story, A Journey Through Addiction and Back
A young teen walks a dark path through addiction and recovery. From a very young age this child struggled with learning disabilities and anxiety, for which he was medicated most of his life. Trying to succeed within the structure of the traditional classroom was not possible for him. As a result, this combined with other factors of his personality, lead him down the dark path of drug use. This journey spiraled for a number of years, culminating in a last ditch effort by his family to save him by forcibly committing him to in-patient rehab. This treatment took more than a year in order for him to be well enough to be released. After this, there was discussion about how to best address his learning issues and the decision was made for him to work one-on -one with professionals who would have the freedom to be creative and help him gain aware of his learning style and generate strategies that work best for him. UDL-based approaches are very effective here as we use many modes of representing the content and summative and formative assessments are done in creative ways.
The journey continues... Inevitably, seeking this help privately, comes at a large financial cost which most families could not manage. The fact that these approaches are highly effective for students at-risk, means that this type of approach should be available to all, regardless of financial status. The consequences are dire for those not able to access such support...dropping out of high school, falling deeper into addiction and criminal behavior ultimately with possible incarceration and even death.
The fact that there is a way to turn this around in a positive direction, makes it imperative that we address the needs of all students and their diverse learning styles and learning disabilities, which should be readily available to all those in need.


Monday July 31, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Alumni Lounge


Empowering Underserved Youth Through an EdTech Design Challenge
CAST developed an EdTech Design Challenge & Incubator program specifically for underrepresented youth who might not typically gravitate to these kinds of programs or see their future selves in roles as technology innovators, designers or developers. Building upon a strength-based mindset and through their variable and diverse strengths, the youth moved from passive recipients to empowered and passionate designers of their own learning systems.

With respect to the workforce, we believe there is enormous untapped potential for enriching and catalyzing innovation in our economy by harnessing the talents of these youth who think from a variety of vantage points and “outside of the box."

One of CAST’s internal goals was to use the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework to design the program so that all participants were engaged and supported throughout. Our ultimate goal was to enact a paradigm shift in these youth. In this session, we'll share with you how it went.

avatar for Kim Ducharme

Kim Ducharme

Director of Educational User Experience Design, CAST
As Director of Educational User Experience Design, Kim Ducharme heads up design strategy and user experience for the development of interactive learning environments and tools that expand learning opportunities for all individuals through Universal Design for Learning. She leve... Read More →
avatar for Janet Gronneberg

Janet Gronneberg

Development Officer, CAST
As a Development Officer at CAST, Janet helps identify and secure funding and partnerships to advance CAST’s mission. Sometimes, however, she gets to be more deeply involved in a project, particularly if one of the goals of the project is to secure additional and new types of p... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 1:00pm - 1:18pm
Alumni Lounge


How to Move from Access to Community
All learners must have equitable opportunities to achieve their greatest potential. The long-term impact of social justice pedagogy on learning can potentially be achieved through framing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) through a disability studies lens.
Inclusion is often conceived of as a program focused specifically on serving students with disabilities in the general education classroom. The UDL framework has been promoted as an effective approach to this end for two decades. Some scholars, particularly within the field of Disability Studies in Education (DSE), have suggested that this view of inclusion may be limited, and that inclusion is more appropriately considered as an enterprise to achieve a democratic education for all students, not just those with disabilities. This latter perspective aligns with DSE claims that UDL can serve to reconceptualize the meaning of inclusion toward a social justice framework for education.
One potentially critical dimension to moving inclusion forward to embrace the social justice possibilities of UDL is teacher preparation. Further, preparing teacher educators to effectively convey and model these concepts is prerequisite to shifting theory and practice.
This session makes the case for embedding the tenets of DSE into a faculty learning community on UDL and within special education teacher preparation. Drawing on findings from a recent study that explored the efficacy of training in UDL for helping pre-service teachers see the difference between including students with disabilities in general education settings and creating communities of learners in socially-just classrooms, this UDL Spotlight will outline strategies for enhancing the relationship between UDL and social justice pedagogy within teacher preparation and the faculty learning community. Finally, the presenters will invite participants to engage in an introspective evaluation of their own applications of UDL in relation to the findings conveyed in this presentation and to consider possible incorporation of these concepts in their own practice.
Descriptions and explanations of the supporting, illustrative slides will be embedded into the dialogue of the presenters. The slide presentation, replete with tagged images and charts, will be made available to CAST for sharing with symposium participants.


Chris Lanterman

Principal Lecturer, Northern Arizona University

Monday July 31, 2017 1:00pm - 1:18pm
Founders room


Toward Emotionally Accessible TTS Delivery of Online Learning
Until audio support for reading has the option for emotional expression we may not unlock the learning potential for all learners. There is a very small study that has indicated that people are affected by the choice between human voice verse synthetic voice during learning tasks. One potential explanation for this is that the human voice can carry with it a prosodic expression of emotion. Given that some students have performed better with a human voice the emotional expression could be a contributing factor. When looking at the visually impaired population we can examine preference as an entry into researching this topic. According the the Perkins school for the blind website when listening to an audio book a human voice is the preference even to the point of forgiving the pronunciation mistakes of the reader. So in long form text an emotional delivery may be better. In order to further investigate this question text from online courses have been analyzed for their emotional expression. This helps to understand that across various courses the text material inherently has different levels of emotional expression. 3 courses are sampled from 3 platoforms (EdX, FutureLearn, Coursera). In the three samples three different content areas are included (Physical Science, Social Science, and Personal Development). From these three samples 2 different voice options are used to read the text and these readings have been recorded. The recordings have been analyzed for the potential presence of prosodic detection of 5 emotions (Neutral, Happy, Anger, Sadness, Frustration). The detection technology has a predicted 66.5% accuracy when analyzing human voices. The predictions of this technology across the two voices will be compared with the emotional detection of the source text. Finally a recording on the source text will be read using a technology designed to express emotion so that we can compare the 2 recordings to an alternative option of synthetic speech that is attempting to appropriately express the emotion detected in the text. This will provide the audience with an experience of what an upcoming study will do when asking the question "how does emotional expression of synthetic voice impact reading comprehension?". This upcoming pilot study will use methods that are applicable for learning at scale as the goal of this research is to better understand how emotional speech impacts our learning outcomes to investigate a potential for personalized learning at scale. Outside of the content analysis that sparked the upcoming pilot study, the progress on the pilot work will also be detailed at the time of this presentation.

avatar for Garron Hillaire

Garron Hillaire

Graduate Student, The Open University

Monday July 31, 2017 1:00pm - 1:18pm
Bayview Room


Mitigate Stereotype Threat
Surprisingly simple strategies can mitigate the effects of stereotype threat- a subtle, but impactful fear that you might be confirming a negative stereotype about a group to which you belong. Learn about a study conducted by CAST research and piloted as a professional development online program for educators to reduce the effects of stereotype threat in middle school inquiry classrooms.
Access materials for this session using this Padlet link.

avatar for Allison Posey

Allison Posey

Curriculum Design Specialist, CAST
Allison Posey participates in curricular design, online instruction, and leads professional learning programs. She works with educators to integrate and apply brain research about learning into instructional practices so all learners can access, integrate, and become expert learn... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 1:30pm - 1:48pm
Founders room


UDL for Preventative Juvenile Justice
With all the debate on school testing, schools fail to collect data on the skills that can often most effectively predict who will struggle in school and how to help those learners before they fail. Learn how data on cognitive skills can improve your approach to UDL and outcomes for all learners. Our case study will clearly demonstrate the importance of cognitive data in serving all populations, most particularly at-risk youth. The data is likely to astonish you! Most importantly, you will leave this session with free and efficient methods to evaluate cognitive skills and have strategies to support your learners. These 18 minutes will empower you to significantly improve outcomes for all your learners, particularly those most at risk.

Please make use of our free attention screener and free toolbox here. Social justice starts with accurate understanding of all learners. 

avatar for Nancy Weinstein

Nancy Weinstein

Founder, Mindprint Learning
Evidence-based learning approaches: -technology-enabled cognitive assessments, minimizing cognitive load for each unique learner, offering best fit options for educators and learners, maximizing learner engagement, using UDL standards to make choices. My teacher workbook with CAS... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 1:30pm - 1:48pm
Alumni Lounge


What Does UDL Look Like in Higher Education Learning
Higher education faculty frequency complain that their students come to them ill-prepared to engage in the coursework offered in college. Students enter college with varied skill-sets and experiences regardless if they have a disability. If the professors' goal is to have students be successful and achieve their greatest potential, then the opportunity and engagement into the coursework they prepare, deliver and assess must first ensure accessibility to the learning for all students no matter how they arrive in our classrooms. UDL strategies, when incorporated into the higher education learning environment, ensures adherence to high standards while also providing opportunities for accessibility, student engagement and perseverance towards course completion for students from varied backgrounds, experiences, and who may have a disability. The responsibility to provide fairness and opportunities for all aligns with Democratic Professionalism (Ayers, 2008) , a role that higher education faculty must assume if they are committed to promoting fair, mindful, active participation in college-level learning for all students regardless of their backgrounds, learning gaps, or disabilities. It is my hope that this introduction into what UDL looks like and can do to foster success and goal attainment for all students in the higher educational setting will inform and solicit the commitment by higher education faculty to learn more on the responsibility and need to incorporate UDL strategies in each course that they teach.

Monday July 31, 2017 1:30pm - 1:48pm
Bayview Room


Accessibility: What it Means and Why it Matters

There are legal, practical and social justice reasons for materials and technologies to be “accessible.”  However, there is a great deal of misinformation about what it means for a material or a technology or even a built space to be “accessible.”Accessible materials are designed or converted in a way that makes them usable across the widest range of student variability in any format (print, digital, graphical, audio, video).  

The goal of this session is to encourage leaders to ask meaningful questions about the accessibility of a material or technology so that information gained is accurate and useful.

Big Ideas addressed include: 

  1. A functional definition of accessibility
  2. The moving target of accessibility
  3. The importance of recognizing the barrier(s) that need to be lowered or removed for a material to be accessible to an individual
  4. The importance of redundancy for broadening accessibility
  5. Resources to assist individuals, families and educators with identifying materials and technologies that are useful to all and necessary for some

avatar for Joy Zabala

Joy Zabala

Co-Director National AEM Center, CAST
Joy Smiley Zabala is Co-Director of the National Center on Accessible Educational Materials (AEM Center). She is strong supporter of UDL as the foundation for participation and achievement for all students and of accessible materials and technologies as complementary supports for... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 2:00pm - 2:18pm
Ballroom C


UDL Coaching
Goal: Explain how the UDL framework can be used as a guide for instructional coaching.Description: In this session participants will be introduced to Coaching with a UDL lens. We will explore the top ten strategies for UDL coaching.

Monday July 31, 2017 2:30pm - 2:48pm
Ballroom C


Pursuing Social Justice through Collaboration and Autonomy
As a team we will tell the story of the Berkowitz School's commitment to social justice and how UDL has been the foundation of our growth both personally and as a school in enacting social justice work. The session will have three parts. The first part will be comprised of an overview particularly focused on creating spaces for educator autonomy, along with an overview of the planning and structures that need to be in place to implement the teamwork that has become the backbone of our social justice/UDL work. We will also explore our belief that collaboration allows individuals to adopt and customize UDL in order to most successfully enact social justice in each unique context. Second, we will share a concrete example of an idea that was developed to reflect this autonomy and teamwork. This segment will focus on how the Instructional Support Team uses UDL as the foundation and catalyst to make positive gains. Lastly, we will share the successes and challenges of this work from the perspective of a classroom teacher, as well as how UDL has impacted her ability to provide access to the curriculum in an inclusion classroom. More specifically, this section of the presentation will follow the story of one or more individual students and how the success of teamwork and structures at a broader school level eventually funneled down to benefit them as learners who had traditionally been underserved. Resources can be found on our Padlet by clicking https://goo.gl/58HEup , including the presentation, which can be found by clicking https://goo.gl/jMXvoP . 

avatar for Adam Deleidi

Adam Deleidi

Principal, Chelsea Public Schools
I am an urban elementary principal that has seen the power of UDL as a school and district-wide framework for increased access for ALL learners.

Monday July 31, 2017 3:00pm - 3:18pm
Ballroom A&B


Supporting Social Justice through UDL Credentialing and Certification
Highlighting a collaborative effort across multiple organizations, the UDL Credentialing and Certification Initiative (UDLCCI) is a field driven initiative that is focused on supporting voluntary and scaled recognition of UDL knowledge, implementation, and field advancement. Starting Spring 2018, the initiative will support individuals, schools, and vendors who want to be recognized for their work in UDL. This talk will introduce the UDLCCI and provide you information on how to become more informed and potentially engaged in the  initiative. 
James Basham, Ph.D., KU and IRN,Jose Blackorby, Ph.D., CAST

avatar for James Basham

James Basham

Assoc. Prof & Founder/CEO, University of Kansas/UDL-IRN
avatar for Jose Blackorby

Jose Blackorby

Senior Director of Research and Development, CAST
As Senior Director of Research and Development, Jose Blackorby, PhD, leads CAST’s research, project development, and technical assistance efforts. Dr. Blackorby joined CAST in 2016 after nearly 25 years at SRI International, where most recently he was Co-Director of the Center for Education and Human Services. He has extensive experience in the design and implementation of large-scale, multifaceted studies with research, policy, and practice... Read More →

Monday July 31, 2017 3:30pm - 3:48pm
Ballroom A&B
Tuesday, August 1


How can UDL help close the gender gap in Computer Science?

After reaching the peak of 37% in 1984, the number of women studying Computer Science has steadily declined to 18% by 2014.  This session will explore current gender differences in education as well as employment.  How can UDL help close the gap in Computer Science? Be ready to discuss tips, ideas and suggestions. #ILookLikeAnEngineer

avatar for Lynn McCormack

Lynn McCormack

Software Engineer, CAST

Tuesday August 1, 2017 10:00am - 10:18am
Ballroom C


The Global UDL Virtual Classroom: Researching Cultural Perspectives
This session will spotlight the design, development, implementation and results from a multi-year project that built the Global UDL Virtual Classroom for faculty and educators in the US and Jamaica (Smith, Reed & Arnold, 2015). US educators were able to maximize opportunities to teach and share UDL best practices and in turn, expand their own understandings in how these aligned with Jamaican culture. Using the open platform Wordpress, this virtual classroom was designed to make learning visible, constructive, accessible and applicable through an exchange of online dialogue, demonstration, resource curation, and shared reflections about application to classroom practices. 
Educators explored this dual lens educational model and web-based approach for expanding understanding and application of UDL practice-based evidence across varied instructional and cultural contexts. UDL provided a new way for educators to understand learner's variability, leverage this as a strength, and build flexibility into instructional practice, thus expanding their adaptive expertise. Jamaican educators' perspectives captured within the virtual classroom will be shared that highlight approaches considered, successes realized, and changes made to current practices. To illustrate the value of adaptive expertise and UDL-based dialogue for building knowledge about effective instruction, we explored how inservice educators considered these frameworks as they reflected on their current practice. 
Applying innovation and problem-solving about individual environment interactions are critical skills for 21st century educators (National Research Council, 2012). The development of adaptive educator/practitioner expertise through the lens of UDL offers a transformative framework for developing responsive educators who can in turn design and deliver instruction that meets the expected variability of learner in any classroom (Meyer, Rose & Gordon, 2014). 
Classroom-based lessons learned from this international online community of practice and collaborations between practicing teachers and university faculty exploring the application of the effectiveness of UDL (Meyer et al, 2014) and adaptive expertise frameworks (De Arment, Reed, & Wetzel, 2013) proved to be invaluable. Understanding pedagogical practices and exploring new approaches allowed educators to enrich their perspectives through an iterative exchange of considering the dimensions of learner variability and test their own teacher adaptive practice. In designing this classroom, sensitivity to the economic restraints of this culture were paramount and guided best practices.
Deeper understandings shared from Jamaican educators allowed faculty and doctoral researchers to customize and personalize the online classroom into one that was responsive and culturally appropriate. As a tool, this online classroom was designed with several digital elements that allowed researchers to simultaneously capture comments and perspectives that could be analyzed to determine overall effectiveness. Responses from both emerging doctoral faculty and Jamaican educators echoed the value this classroom offered as a free and open opportunity for learning.

avatar for Serra De Arment

Serra De Arment

Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University
After teaching in special education (early childhood through fifth grade) for 10 years, I now thoroughly enjoy preparing future special educators through my faculty role at VCU in our Early Childhood Special Education and Richmond Teacher Residency programs. I am as passionate ab... Read More →
avatar for Frances Smith

Frances Smith

Educator/Consultant, Recognizing Differences
Dr. Frances (Fran) G. Smith, CVE (http://recognizingdifferences.com) has taught graduate coursework in UDL at GW University since 2003. She was a 2011-12 UDL post-doctoral fellow at CAST and Boston College Lynch School of Education. Dr. Smith represents The Vocational Evaluation... Read More →

Tuesday August 1, 2017 10:00am - 10:18am
Alumni Lounge


Empowering Diverse Learners Through Technology
Over 60% of students in the US today score below proficiency in reading. This includes a wide range of students, including those with varying backgrounds and ethnicities, disabilities, English Language Learners, and students who have simply fallen behind due to lack of support at home or other factors.
Technology can help however. By creating smart, easy to use products that support students with diverse backgrounds and abilities, technology can be the equalizer that helps all students succeed.
Join Jason Carroll, Global Product Manager at Texthelp, to learn more about how technology can help level the playing field for all learners.

Presentation link - https://goo.gl/9A7c4K

avatar for Jason Carroll

Jason Carroll

Product Manager, TextHelp
Jason is the Product Manager for North America at Texthelp Systems. He has trained thousands on the effective use of Assistive and Instructional Technology throughout the United States and beyond since his start with Kentucky Education Cooperatives over a decade ago. His focus is... Read More →

Tuesday August 1, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Ballroom C


UDL in Chile, an international perspective
Chile, as everywhere, is a Country with challenging barriers for learners. This year, Chile started to implement UDL at our schools. In this fun presentation, I will tell you our input to this task working along with CAST, which barriers we have found up to now, how we overthrew them and our results. But more importantly, how UDL has shown to be an effective framework to lever social justice towards our learners. Don't miss our talk! See you there.

avatar for Boris Alvarez

Boris Alvarez

Executive Director, Fellow Group

Tuesday August 1, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Alumni Lounge


Tech-based UDL to Address Non-Academic Barriers, Both Personal and Social
In this session, participants will have mutli-sensory opportunities to expand their understandings of social justice beyond traditional categories of race, class and religion; will understand better: 1)  why learner-driven, meaning networks - not ideology, nor "white bread" content - must drive social justice framing in UDL; 2) how what is missing from representation too often enforces an unwritten code of denial and cultural silence that perpetuates oppression, and 3) how designed-in strategic networks (the differentiated "how" of learning)  can help address - or else perpetuate - implicit bias; and 4) how thoughfully designed technology can meet some of these challenges. Stories, pair sharing, interpetation of images and coloring exercises will help participants experience first-hand how learning needs are created out of the particularities of intersecting identities and how each educator's particular background may impact their preceptions of color,  normal behavior", language and symbols, and through that, what they offer thier students - -  all in 18 minutes!
  "In their own words."

avatar for Alice Ray

Alice Ray

CEO, Ripple Effects
Alice Ray is a long time child advocate, social activist and media producer. She is CEO and Chief Creative Officer at Ripple Effects. Ripple Effects uses emerging technologies to address non-academic barriers to school success, from individual vulnerabilities of all kinds to so... Read More →

Tuesday August 1, 2017 1:00pm - 1:18pm
Ballroom C


UDL for Social Justice: Teaching strategies that respect socio-economic-based stress

UDL for Social Justice: Teaching Strategies That Respect Socioeconomic-Based Stress

avatar for Jana Marcette

Jana Marcette

Assistant Professor of Biology, Harris-Stowe State University

Tuesday August 1, 2017 1:00pm - 1:18pm
Founders room


Healing School Wounds- Executive Function through a UDL Lens
In classrooms around the world we can find learners who struggle with accomplishing series of tasks to prove their ability in the classroom or at home. Previously feeling successful across learning experiences, these individuals may begin to feel stuck or inefficient in their approach to completing tasks or work. After years of struggle, learners are often relieved to find out that there are skills and strategies to help them navigate through complex situations. Executive function challenges tend be described as struggles that specific groups of learners have, rather than a set of skills that all individuals should learn, strengthen, and grow. Understanding the EF needs of adolescents with neurocognitive and mental health challenges, through a UDL lens can help to provide opportunities to activate and inspire struggling learners. Understanding how strategies and supports can bolster learning equity often reignites learner passions to help them find their purpose.

This session will explore the construct of executive function (EF) through a UDL lens. As advocates for equitable educational opportunities through the utilization of the UDL framework to create more flexible learning environments, we may not always recognize how traumatic experiences and mental health challenges impact executive function during learning experiences. Neurocognitive stages of development can be influenced by traumatic experiences, lack of skill development, as well as other biological or physical delays. Such influences can impact the way in which learners interact with new knowledge and increasingly demanding work over time. The expectations that learners should "know what to do" as they pass through to different grades may not only be determined by their previous successes.

During this session we will explore executive function, executive dysfunction, and potential vulnerabilities that often exist across learning environments. We will primarily focus on early adolescence through emerging adulthood to discuss EF development through a neurocognitive, mental health, and UDL perspective. Participants will learn about options to support these populations of learners to succeed. This will be accomplished while connecting skills and strategies to how all learners could benefit from the teaching, practice, and process around how to best support, and thus activate executive function skills.

avatar for Alexis Reid

Alexis Reid

Director of Executive Function Coaching & Educational Services, Boston Child Study Center
Trained at Loyola University in Baltimore, MD and Boston College, Alexis has worked in many different educational settings throughout her career. Most recently she taught in the Boston area and is now the Director of Executive Function Coaching and Educational Services for the Bo... Read More →

Tuesday August 1, 2017 1:30pm - 1:48pm
Founders room


Music as a means for advocacy for immigrant children and families

This session will provide a brief introduction on the use of music therapy for immigrant children and families and music as a means of advocacy.  

Cynthia is a board certified music therapist and child advocate for immigrant children and families. She currently works for the center of community health improvement at MGH Cheslea as a program coordinator for newly arrived children and families.

Tuesday August 1, 2017 1:30pm - 1:48pm
Ballroom C


Empowering Teachers to Enable Social Justice with UDL
Link to students' projects poster: https://www.smore.com/4szm9-udl-for-special-ed

The goal of our presentation is twofold. First, we will share with the audience how we built a graduate course on how to apply UDL in the classroom. This part is relevant to audience members who are aware of UDL and are looking for new ways to teach it in their communities and will enable more educators to leverage UDL in their day-to-day teaching. We will share specific example of how we actually used UDL approaches to teach about UDL and how our graduate students reacted to these approaches. These approaches can be leveraged later by the audience as part of a large program to train educators on how to leverage UDL, or they can pick and choose from several small activates that we applied in our course and use them in more specific and short opportunities to teach about UDL (for example, using a Lego model to teach about "multiple ways of delivery" of instructions).
Second, we will share the examples and results of the final projects our graduate students did. As part of our course, students worked in groups of two and translated one of their traditional class activities to a UDL-based activity and tested it with their students. Our class included 19 special education teachers and their students' backgrounds included: 1) high to low functioning with autism, 2) hard of hearing or deaf, 3) moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, 4) attention and learning disorders. These 10 examples include very creative usage of UDL and will be relevant to the audience as tangible examples of how UDL can be leveraged to enable better learning experiences for the above audiences.
We are planning to have a presentation that will first inspire the audience and will encourage them to go back to their communities and teach/practice UDL. But we also want the session to give very tangible examples and ideas that people can adopt immediately in their classes.
While the presentation will be given by two people (Amir Bar and Betty Schreiber), it represents the work that was done by 21 people (2 instructors + 19 students) over an entire semester, and there is a lot of good information to share. During the session we will also apply technological methods for our audience to select the examples they are most interested in (given that we have many examples and not much time). Once the audience chooses the examples they want to see we will show a demo of the UDL activity, share pictures/ video from the class, and the feedback from the teachers who created it and used it. It will be an exciting, engaging, and informative presentation, with two enthusiastic UDLers!

avatar for Amir Bar

Amir Bar

Lecturer, Kibbutzim College

Tuesday August 1, 2017 2:00pm - 2:18pm
Founders room


Advocating for Preparation Programs for Students with Learning Differences as they Transition to High School
What is successful UDL Implementation? Advocating for preparation programs for students with learning differences as they transition to high school
This presentation will highlight how creating a summer preparation program founded upon the 3 guiding principles of UDL can ease the high school transition experience of students with learning differences. Presenter will share results from the collaborative process of the teaching staff. Participants will leave with ideas on how to implement a similar program in their school sites to ensure that students who learn differently are given choices to access the curriculum and to express knowledge gained. Research from Hattie's work on Visible Thinking and Collective Teacher Efficacy will be introduced. According to new findings by Professor John Hattie, a strong sense of Collective Teacher Efficacy (d=1.57) can yield over three years of student growth over one school year. Now ranked the most powerful influence on achievement in the Visible Learning research, Collective Teacher Efficacy is a belief that together teachers can positivity impact student learning. This body of research combined with the universal framework of Universal Design for Learning may be a powerful combination for exponential change in our schools.

avatar for Jude Wolf, Ed. D.

Jude Wolf, Ed. D.

Director of the Center, Kehillah Jewish HS
Jude Wolf is a seasoned educator with more than 15 years of teaching in the K-12 school system and higher education institutions. She has worked with students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms and special day classrooms in private, public, and independent schools. Dr. Wo... Read More →

Tuesday August 1, 2017 2:30pm - 2:48pm
Founders room
Wednesday, August 2


Follow Up Discussion with Keynote Presenter: Luis Perez
avatar for Luis Perez

Luis Perez

Inclusive Learning Evangelist
Luis Pérez is an inclusive learning advocate based in St. Petersburg, Florida. He has more than a decade of experience working with educators to help them integrate technology in ways that empower all learners. Luis holds a doctorate in special education and a master’sdegree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida, where he was on the staff of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. At FCIT, Luis was program manager for Tech Ease for All, a collection of videos and other accessible materials for developing competency in assistive technology among faculty and students. Luis also developed content for... Read More →

Wednesday August 2, 2017 10:00am - 10:18am
Ballroom A&B


Using Peer-Mediated Literacy Instruction to Promote Inclusion
Attendees will experience our district's story of inclusion, with a specific focus on the power of peers in literacy instruction. Those interested in the historical disenfranchisement of students with low-incidence disabilities, who are interested in making education more inclusive are encouraged to attend. We will root ourselves in the "WHY" behind inclusion, and give concrete examples (pictures, videos, snapshots) of HOW we use UDL to achieve inclusion in our classrooms. Participants will be given resources such as adapted lesson plans, UDL templates, and peer mentoring materials that can be used immediately in literacy classrooms or modified to specific content areas to allow them to put UDL peer-mediated practices into work in their classrooms this fall! The strategies will be applicable to all content areas and a hyperlinked resource will be provided.

avatar for Allie Tasche and Katy Hayes

Allie Tasche and Katy Hayes

Learning Strategists, Oconomowoc Area School District
Katy and Allie are learning strategists from Wisconsin who are passionate about inclusion of students with autism and low-incidence disabilities. | As leaders in UDL, they design curricular, sensory, and social supports within the building and provide coaching to peers with... Read More →

Wednesday August 2, 2017 10:30am - 10:48am
Ballroom A&B