Universal Design for Learning

Learning Exercise by Meredith Tolson

Interactive Timelines

One of the things that I cover in 6th grade world cultures is timelines. This is a skill that many students have never used in the context of social studies. Sequencing is also a difficult concept for many of them.

This I usually cover timelines at the very beginning of the year. This learning exercise would have students create a timeline of their own lives using the website Time Toast. It allows the students to become more comfortable with using technology in class, allows students to share some of their own history, and work with the skills of sequencing and time.

UDL Network

Though this lesson incorporates skills from several networks, the network that is most utilized in this lesson most uses the Recognition Network.

1. Provide Options for Perception

The timeline biography offers several means of perception. Students can choose between a timeline format and text format for presentation. They can also upload photos, video and audio into the timeline.

2. Provide Options for Language, Mathematical Expression and Symbols

The vocabulary for this lesson is pre-taught. Also, students don't have to rely on text for their expression. They can use pictures, symbols and video to convey their ideas.

3. Provide Options for Comprehension

Students should have adequate background knowledge for this activity since they are writing about themselves. Some students, because of issues or things in their past, may not want to talk about themselves. If this is the case, I let them create a timeline on a family member or historical figure of their choice. This takes a little more work on their part, but some students are more comfortable with this.


There are several things I could modify to make this lesson better follow a UDL approach.

  • Find out what adaptive technology my school offers or how I can get adaptive technology if we don't have any (5)
  • Meet with students to conference about progress (8)
  • Have students conference with each other to touch base about how the project is coming. (8)
  • Have students complete a checklist as they work (9)

Incorporating UDL into Daily Lessons

UDL doesn't have to take more time or much more effort. With a bit of forethought and planning, UDL can help teachers design more engaging and effective lessons on a daily basis.