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UDL-LDC Crosswalk

The goal of this document is to provide an overview of how two educational frameworks, Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), complement each other in the design of curriculum in order to build pertinent literacy skills for all learners. At their core, both LDC and UDL have the goal of providing high quality curriculum to ensure learning is maximized for all students. To meet this goal, both frameworks recognize that it is essential to provide strong supports for educators in the design of robust instructional modules, units, and lessons.

LDC logo

The LDC Framework emphasizes building college and career-ready literacy skills specified by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). To meet that goal, the LDC support system is carefully designed to help teachers seamlessly integrate CCSS-based literacy instruction into their overall scope and sequence of content standards. A series of templates, found on the Literacy Design Collaborative web site, introduce and guide teachers through a process of lesson development that incorporates the CCSS.

LDC focuses specifically on aligning lessons with the CCSS in order to build reading and writing fluency across content areas. There are two overarching challenges to LDC lesson design:

  • variability in teacher background and experience in designing literacy and writing lessons
  • a range of specific subject-area goals that could impact the writing and literacy curricula. For example, science curricula may have different writing structures, such as laboratory reports, than a social studies composition.

Because the LDC templates focus on alignment of the CCSS, not on instructional processes and design, teachers who lack experience with the latter may not be fully scaffolded by these templates.

Graphic of three brains showing three networks
     Universal Design for Learning

The UDL Framework is based on the evidence from neuroscience that no two brains learn in the same way; learner variability is the rule rather than the exception. The UDL Guidelines provide a structure that supports the design of curriculum to address this neurological variability. By providing multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement in the curriculum from the beginning, all learners can become resourceful, strategic, and purposeful.

Graphic of the three main principlies of UDL
    Universal Design for Learning

The UDL Guidelines focus on the design of lessons and instructional practices. Taking three broad networks of the brain into account—recognition, strategy, and affect—the corresponding UDL Guidelines offer teachers a meaningful structure for designing lessons that address the variability of learners and consequently optimize learning. However, the UDL Guidelines do not specifically address the CCSS in relation to instructional practices, which leaves teachers without a structure to systematically align and integrate their practices with the CCSS.

The UDL Guidelines offer supports for teachers to consider how their lesson provides students with multiple access points for building background, demonstrating their understanding, and engaging with the material.

LDC-UDL: Complementary Frameworks

In combination, LDC and UDL offer supports to content area teachers as they develop lessons and curricular materials that aim to meet the variability of all students in order to deliver quality literacy/ writing modules. Lesson development is supported by—

  • the LDC templates—which align with the CCSS, and
  • the UDL Guidelines—which support the instructional practices that address learner variability.

When these frameworks intersect, teachers receive maximum support for the development of pedagogically based lessons that incorporate the CCSS.


Graphic of the LDC Module sequence

LDC templates can be used across disciplines and can be modified by individual teachers, allowing them to bring their own expertise to meet specific needs of their discipline as well as address the CCSS. For example, a science teacher may use the LDC system to develop a module for writing an argumentative paper that uses subject specific content, such as studying the planets and making a case for why Pluto should or should not be considered a planet. LDC 'skills clusters' are clearly identified in order to break down the tasks into essential skills necessary for reading, transitioning to writing, and writing. Through the lesson design, students can achieve the LDC goal to read and synthesize content-specific information and experience how writing serves a meaningful purpose.

UDL Exchange logo

The UDL Exchange's Lesson Builder is a platform that allows educators to compile and share resources. A teacher could compile and build a collection of LDC lesson plans and resources for an entire module (e.g., reading materials, hand-outs, worksheets, graphic organizers, web sites, etc.). These can then be shared, remixed, and edited with other teachers.

Educators can use UDL Exchange's Lesson Builder to pro-actively plan the design of curriculum to maximize learning for all students. This tool offers rich supports to develop lessons in which students are clear about—

  • what the goals are
  • what strategies and supports are available to help them reach the goals
  • how they can continue to manage information and monitor their progress
  • how they can engage in authentic experiences that relate to the content

Embedded supports in UDL Exchange provide explicit consideration of goals, CCSS, methods, assessments, and materials which model the UDL Guidelines and framework.

Building Communities to Support Practice

LDC encourages sharing successful modules within and between communities of practice, including classroom teachers, school and district leaders, state departments and organizations, and a wide array of service providers. R Group Space is specifically designed as an online resource that provides modules that include rubrics, mini tasks, relevant reading texts and multimedia, and pertinent background information.

There is also a Think Tank social media site where educators can share implementation ideas and strategies.

LDC-UDL Lesson graphic

UDL Guidelines during lesson development to ensure that there are supports within each lesson that address learner variability. In either case, the resources provide teachers with dynamic, supportive environments for designing content-specific lessons that they can share and collaborate with a larger community of practice.

For an example, sign into UDL Studio (a free tool from CAST) to find the lesson LDC-UDL Crosswalk: A Study of the Declaration of Independence.

In summary, both UDL and LDC have at their core high-level expectations for all learners. Through using supports provided by UDL and LDC, teachers can build strong curricular materials to help learners achieve strong literacy and writing skills. Using the UDL and LDC frameworks in the design of lessons offers supports for the range of educators who design curricula to meet writing and literacy goals, to ensure the CCSS standards are explicitly addressed in lessons, and to ensure that learner variability is supported.

Last Updated: 10/17/2013

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