Digital Leadership
Summit at ISTELive 20
Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Removing Barriers to Learning: Finding Tools to Reach All Students Through Design

Location: W192b

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : BYOD

Wednesday, June 27, 8:30–9:30 am
Location: W192b

Bob Cunningham   Barbara Huth   Amanda Morin   Sue Thotz  
Learn to design lessons that incorporate assistive tools and strategies that reach all learners. This hands-on session models technology-finding tools and facilitates the process as you walk through the design of engaging lessons that employ Universal Design for Learning guidelines. Walk away with strategies for an inclusive classroom.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Headphones would be helpful, but not required.
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Instructional design and delivery
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

1. Participants will be motivated to address learning and attention issues through a better understanding of their students’ experiences.
2. Participants will be able to describe a basic framework of the Universal Design for Learning and five ways they can apply to classrooms.
3. Participants will know how to use’s free Tech Finder tool and review strategies and tools to identify solutions to challenges that learners of all abilities in the classroom face.
4. Participants will leave with tips that address how a facilitator can select and manage tools that support students regardless of their learning style or ability.


Essential Question: How can we remove barriers to learning for all of our students including those with learning and attention issues?

Simulation - What is it like to have learning and attention issues? How does it make learning in the classroom difficult? Put yourself in your students shoes through this activity to get a sense of why this is an important issue and how to empathize - (10 min.)

Introduction to UDL - By viewing our lesson design through framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), we can create a welcoming and effective experience for all students, with and without disabilities. Today, we’ll examine five easy ways to design with a UDL framework and walk step-by-step through examples of the process of selecting tools and incorporating them into our lessons. (10 minutes)
Introduce basic concepts of UDL and identify current practices of the group that already follow the principles.
Outline five examples to make your classroom more inclusive: post lesson goals, provide assignment options, flexible workspace environment, provide regular feedback, use digital and audio text options.

3. Model: How can we select tools and design lessons to fit the needs of all of our students? Facilitators demonstrate design through the following example: I have a 9th grade classroom that I have trouble keeping engaged immediately after lunch. Some of my students have diagnosed attention issues, but I feel all could benefit from tools to focus. What tools can I use to engage, focus and keep them on task? Considering the examples of UDL provided, use the Tech Finder ( to generate ideas for types of tools based on needs. What do the suggested tools have in common? What pedagogical techniques are employed? (10 minutes)
a. Walk through the Tech Finder tool and search: Attention
b. Results: (meditation/mindfulness as a tool)
c. Demonstrate designing a lesson that integrates using these tools.
d. Provide tips for facilitating a classroom that incorporates these tools and strategies.

4. Explore: Attendees are provided example scenarios to work on in groups of 4 or 5. Using the Tech Finder tool demonstrated previously, identify ideas for tools that will help design a better experience for learning through technology and create solutions to the scenarios. (25 min)
a. Work with your group to find a tool or strategy that would support a better learning experience for your students in your scenario.
b. Gather ideas from teachers that have used the tool in their classrooms by searching reviews and lesson plans at
c. Explain why you chose that tool to a partner group? How does this get integrated into a lesson that you would teach. Share examples. Four facilitators will be available to work with small groups to assist in designing a lesson that incorporates these tools.
d. Attendees will partner to share out the lessons they designed.

5. Share: Tips for facilitating a UDL classroom that teachers can implement immediately and additional resources for deepening practice.(5 min.)

Supporting research

Bray, B., & McClaskey, K. (2017). How to personalize learning: a practical guide for getting started and going deeper. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Edyburn, D. L. (2010). Would You Recognize Universal Design for Learning if You Saw it? Ten Propositions for New Directions for the Second Decade of UDL. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33(1), 33-41. doi:10.1177/073194871003300103

Meyer, A., Rose, D. H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: theory and practice. Wakefield, MA: CAST Professional Publishing, an imprint of CAST, Inc.

More [+]


Barbara Huth, Common Sense Education
Amanda Morin, National Center for Learning Disabilitie
Sue Thotz, Common Sense

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