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UDL and Learner Variability: Using Both Frameworks to Design Classrooms so Each Learner Meets Their Potential

Thursday, March 30, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm EDT

Image of a female teacher sitting in front of a class with 7 children looking at a paper in her hands that she's pointing to.

Presented by Lindsay Jones, CEO, CAST; and Sarah Wisecarver, Ventures Educator, UDL Team Facilitator, Hampstead Central School (NH)
Moderated by Barbara Pape, Senior Director, Learner Variability Project, Digital Promise

Sponsored by Digital Promise

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CAST works to make education inclusive and invented Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework that guides the design of instructional goals, assessments, methods, and materials. The goal is to ensure all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities. This vision is shared by the principle of learner variability as demonstrated in Digital Promise’s FREE tool, the Learner Variability Navigator (LVN). Based on Todd Rose’s theories and research in his book, The End of Average, learner variability is the recognition that every student has a unique set of strengths and challenges across a whole child framework that are interconnected and vary according to context. When you understand learner variability, you see a design challenge, not a student problem.

In this edWebinar, you learn about innovative ways to use both frameworks to design classrooms that allow each student to meet their potential:

  • The principles of UDL
  • How these principles are put into action in the classroom
  • What learner variability is and how it connects with UDL
  • How the strategies in the LVN can be used to complement the UDL framework
  • Why research matters and undergirds both UDL and LVN

This recorded edWebinar is of interest to PreK-12 teachers, school and district leaders, and special education educators.

A close-up of a white female with short blonde hair wearing a blue blouse and pink blazer and smiling. Lindsay E. JonesAbout the Presenters

Lindsay E. Jones is the Chief Executive Officer of CAST, where she works with innovative educators and researchers across the globe to design education systems that are learner centered, flexible, accessible, and rooted in Universal Design for Learning. Lindsay leads strategy and implementation at CAST to ensure all of CAST’s work removes barriers, fosters belonging, and creates equitable education opportunities for every learner. Lindsay previously served as the President and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), a nonprofit advocacy organization that promotes innovation, research, and youth voice to improve the lives of the one in five with learning disabilities and attention issues. She also served as the Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), where she led federal legislative advocacy and worked with dedicated educators from across the country. Lindsay began her career as an attorney, advising and representing schools and parents in special education matters. She was a partner with the law firm of Gust Rosenfeld in Phoenix, AZ, and is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the State Bar of Arizona.

Smiling white female with long brown braided hair wearing glasses on top of her head and a necklace. She's dressed in a blue blouse and pink sweater. Sarah WisecarverSarah Wisecarver is the Ventures teacher for Hampstead Central School in Hampstead, New Hampshire. In this role, she designs and implements curricula for Gifted and Talented and enrichment students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Additionally, she supports the entire elementary school in STEAM initiatives for preschool through fourth grade and won NH Elementary STEM Teacher of the Year in 2022. Since 2018, Sarah has been the team facilitator for her school’s UDL team. Through instructional rounds, collaborating on problems of practice, and developing lesson design studios, Sarah leads her team to design learning environments and deliver instruction to meet the needs of ALL learners. Sarah and the Hampstead UDL team strive to remove barriers within the curriculum and support learner variability. She and the team are working hard at building capacity in the knowledge of the UDL framework within their school, and in the future, strive for schoolwide UDL implementation. Prior to this Ventures position, Sarah was a general education teacher for multiple grade levels including kindergarten, second, third, and fourth grade.

A white female with curly brown hair wearing a blue blouse and smiling for the camera. Barbara A. PapeAbout the Moderator

Barbara Pape, Senior Director for the Learner Variability Project at Digital Promise, led a three-year national survey on learner variability and teacher practice, wrote the paper defining learner variability, hosts a monthly webinar series, and co-developed The IEP Project. Previously, she worked in policy analysis and communications for nonprofits and in the U.S. Senate. Barbara has written for numerous publications and was editor of the first electronically delivered education newsletter, the Daily Report Card. Previously, she produced the Teaching & Learning conference for the National Board, worked in the communications office for the AFT during President Al Shanker’s tenure, and headed up government relations for the City Colleges of Chicago. She earned an Ed.M. at Harvard and coursework toward a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia. Barbara launched her career as a middle school teacher in her hometown of Pittsburgh.

Learn more about viewing the live presentation and the recording, earning your CE certificate, and using our new accessibility features.

Join the Personalize Learning for Learner Variability community to network with educators, participate in online discussions, receive invitations to upcoming edWebinars, and view recordings of previous programs to earn CE certificates.

Digital Promise Logo with text, 'Digital Promise, Accelerating Innovation in Education'.Digital Promise was created with the mission to accelerate innovation in education to improve opportunities to learn.


Digital Promise Banner Ad with text, 'Move Beyond the Average. Design to Reach Each Learner.' hyperlinked to Learner Variability Navigator.

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