UDL Module 4: Focus on Action and Expression

a graphic of a figure reading a bookModule 4 Introduction

First Steps: Now that you’ve completed Module 3, please consider the following:

(Prompt #11: What did you try? How did you represent information to your students? Were there other representation strategies that you would like to explore further? Please provide your response in the section below:)

A blue bulleted list of principle, guidelines, and checkpoints for action and expresion

Retrieved from http://www.cast.org

The framework of UDL includes three overarching principles which include engagement, representation, and strategy. This module will allow us to explore the principle of strategy which involves action and expression. As we have learned, each of us varies in our ways of learning and engagement with the task. Learners vary greatly in how they can share and represent their understanding. Through a UDL lens, educators need to carefully consider the design of their curriculum and consider varied ways students can act upon and express their knowledge. Our understanding of learner variability allows us to now plan ahead for different forms of expression in our classrooms and instructional settings.

For example, some of us have great ability in sharing what we know through writing a paper with a pencil or using a keyboard. Yet, someone who cannot effectively hold a pencil or lacks strengths in using the keys on a keyboard with their hands will have difficulty with this task. If the goal of the task is demonstrating understanding of the content through written means, then the method to accomplish the task may vary. Consider another individual who might share that same understanding instead by using their voice to write the paper, develop a Powerpoint presentation to depict the content, design a website, or create a movie to illustrate the story. The goal for the expressing understanding of the content would still be met through varied means based on the learning approaches of the students.

Module 4 Goals

  1. Explore multiple means for action and expression.
  2. Expand your understanding by exploring strategic tools that could be used for a task.
  3. Brainstorm ways to provide multiple means of action and expression for students.

Module 4 Activities

  • Why are multiple means for action and expression important for student learning? Each of us has differing ways of demonstrating our knowledge. One of the key goals of UDL is to encourage students to appreciate these strengths and become strategic learners; those who are strategic and goal directed.  It is important for students to become aware of how they learn so they can strategically plan to engage in learning. Teachers can also help students to become strategic learners by embedding supports (offer targeted feedback and guiding questions), modeling strategic learning activities (such as developing clear goals that guide tasks) and, designing activities that permit students to vary their actions.
  • How are the brain networks involved in learning and what part impacts a learners ability in action and expression? Take a moment to listen to Dr. David Rose discuss how the brain is involved in the processing of learning when we utilize the strategic networks of the brain, From Bach to Lady Gaga: (Hint: Scroll to the bottom of this page and select the jump point section on Action and Expression (http://udlseries.udlcenter.org/presentations/bach_to_gaga.html?plist=lead)
  • What does strategic learning look like in the classroom and why is this important to understand? Watch the following video clip to hear the authors discuss how multiple means for action and expression (as well as others) have been incorporated to support learning of the students in this class – UDL Guidelines in Practice: Grade 6 Science (http://www.udlcenter.org/resource_library/videos/udlcenter/guidelines#video3).
  • What are your experiences? Take a few minutes to share with someone in your group how you’ve provided varied ways for students to act upon and express their understanding? What strategic supports did you employ?
    (Prompt #12: How does this apply to your students/learners? Please provide your response in the section below:)

To consider the UDL principle on Action and Expression, you can also….

  1. Read and Explore more about this principle of UDL, Multiple Means for Action and Expression at the CAST website (make sure you click on each guideline and “View examples and resources”).
  2. Review the key points that address building expert learners through a focus on action and expression and who are strategic and goal-directed, UDL and Expert Learners (http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/expertlearners)
  3. Dig Deeper by reading the article from Proctor, Dalton, and Grisham (2007) entitled Scaffolding English Language Learners and Struggling Readers in a Universal Literacy Environment with Embedded Strategy Instruction and Vocabulary Support.

UDL Action and Expression in Application


Now that you’ve explored some examples of Action and Expression, consider 5 ways that a student could demonstrate their knowledge within a specific content area you teach, have taught, or are familiar with at this time.  You can choose to work in either small groups or individually. (Prompt #13: How would offering students multiple means for action and expression benefit your learners? Please provide your response in the section below:)

Next Steps: When we meet again, be prepared to describe the following: What did you try in your classroom? How did you vary opportunities for student’s action and expression? Are there other action and expression strategies that you would like to explore further?

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