Making Connections: Universal Design for Learning, Differentiated Instruction and Individualized Supports Webinar Series

Do you sometimes feel like you are living in the land of alphabet soup? UDL, ATL, DI, RtI, SETT, UbD…. the list goes on. How can educators go from being in the “soup” to systematically and consciously using these approaches to design and implement inclusive education in a way that meets the educational and social needs of all children while considering the specific needs of every child.

Using a tiered approach model that is the foundation of Response to Intervention and the belief that it takes a team approach to do this work well, this series of webinars will support school teams in working through the various approaches in a step-by-step manner, each approach building responsively from the first.

Making Connections

We will begin by looking at planning learning experiences through the lens of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (Rose & Meyer, 2002). UDL challenges us to reduce barriers that may be inherent in a one-size-fits all approach to learning. Next, we will look to Differentiating Instructional (DI) practices based on the profiles of learners using the flexible materials, methods, goals, and assessments we have created using the UDL Framework. DI (Tomlinson, 2001) helps educators to understand and respond to the diverse learning needs of students in our classroom by thoughtfully varying the processes we employ, the content we draw upon, and the type of products we expect from our students. Finally we will focus our attention on the student in your classroom who needs more than a differentiated approach - the students for whom you will still need to plan more intensive or specialized programming For this final step, we will explore the Participation Model (PM), proposed by Beukelman & Mirenda (1998, 2005), when planning for students who use augmentative and alternative communication. The PM helps school teams to make thoughtful and informed decisions for students whose needs are more complex focusing on how to meaningfully increase their academic and social participation and success.

Of course, in the context of 21st classrooms appropriate use of technology is integral and will be infused in each connected approach. However, technology without pedagogy can be just more stuff. Technology may be necessary, but it alone is far from sufficient to create the change we seek. Throughout the series the what, how, and mostly the why of technologies will be discussed in the context of support, not only for students but also for educators.

Alberta Education resources will be heavily drawn upon to help to ensure that ideas are relevant for the Alberta context. In addition, the SETT Framework ( will be as a way of thinking and gathering information for all levels of this planning.

A Webinar based Workshop: How will this series differ from other webinars?

This series of webinars is planned as a multi-part workshop. Each webinar will set the stage for district teams to support teachers with ideas, tools, and resources discussed in order to put them into practice in the context of inclusive education. A private, online space will be created for you to share your successes and challenges along the way. This space will be monitored by Kathy Howery, and your work will be supported through ongoing dialogue.

new_medium.gifThe ARPDC hosts an Alberta Online Community of Practice called Enhancing Inclusive Environments: Support for Implementation website (often called the Reaching All Students Ning), and we have created new group for participants in this webinar series called Making Connections Webinar Pilot in order to foster the conversation between webinars.

This community is where Kathy will host discussions to follow-up from the webinars. She will also put focused questions to encourage participants to revisit the powerpoint and go deeper into some of the points raised. To get the full value from this webinar series, participants are strongly encouraged to join this Community of Practice (ning). Membership to the Making Connections Webinar Pilot group is restricted to participants of this webinar series.

Conversations in the Community of Practice (ning) will extend the ideas presented in the webinars. For example, the first conversations in the Community of Practice will be focussed on going deeper into the UDL guidelines.

If you are already a member of the Community of Practice, please join the Making Connections Webinar Pilot group. If you are not yet a member of the Community of Practice, you can click the button below to learn how to join the Community and our Group.

You should be prepared to learn, try, reflect, share, and respond to the information provided in each webinar. There will be particular emphasis placed on teams and teaming, and how district teams may use this information in their ongoing work to support classroom teachers.

This Planning Guide has been developed as a resource to help work through the steps presented in this series. It is provided only as a suggestion. You may find your own planning guides or processes are more suited to your particular context.

Webinar 1 – UDL Proactive Design

Step 1: Identifying and eliminating barriers to student success – UDL

Webinar 1 - Resources, Powerpoint and Recording - Click this link to access all resources for Webinar 1, including readings, websites Powerpoint Presentation and the link to the Webinar Recording.
Links to the Webinar recordings of the follow up Q & A sessions On October 23 and November 22 are also found here.

Webinar 2 – DI Responsive Instruction

Step 2: Learning about and differentiating for your class - DI

Webinar 2 - Resources, Powerpoint and Recording - Click this link to access all resources for Webinar 2, including readings, online books and websites. Powerpoint Presentation and the link to the Webinar Recording will be posted after December 7th.

Webinar 3 – PM Individualized Planning

Step 3: Planning meaningful participation for each student - PM

Webinar 3 - Resources, Powerpoint and Recording

The goal of this series is to practically connect these three educational approaches as a series of iterative and practical steps that can be used to create learning environments and learning experiences that are inclusive in nature, and effective in design and implementation. Be prepared to learn, explore, and make connections, not only to the topics at hand, but with others in Alberta who are actively working to provide each student with the optimal balance of challenge and support.

About the facilitator

Kathy Howery is a doctoral candidate at the University of Alberta and an educational consultant. Kathy has worked for close to 30 years in the area of assistive technology, special education and universal design for learning (UDL). Of late, Kathy’s research has led her to approach inquiry into Augmentative and Alternative Communication through hermeneneutic phenomenology. Kathy also continues to be actively involved in research and practice in the area of Universal Design for Learning. It is her profound belief that by proactively designing accessible learning environments will enhance the educational experiences and outcomes for every student.

This learning opportunity is subsidized as a result of a grant from Alberta Education to support implementation.