Instructional Planning Process

As a framework, UDL requires educators to think proactively about the variability of all learners. In consideration of the UDL Critical Elements, educators implementing UDL should use a backwards design instructional process that incorporates the following five steps. 

Step 1:  Establish Clear Outcomes

Establish a clear understanding of the goal(s) of the lesson and specific learner outcomes related to:

  • The desired outcomes and essential student understandings and performance for every learner. (What will learning look like? What will students be able to do or demonstrate?)
  • The desired big ideas and their alignment to the established standards within the program of study that learners should understand.
  • The potential misunderstandings, misconceptions and areas where learners may meet barriers to learning.
  • How will goals be clearly communicated to the learners, in ways that are understandable to all learners.


Step 2:  Anticipate Learner Variability

  • Curriculum barriers (e.g. physical, social, cultural or ability-level) that could limit the accessibility to     instruction and instructional materials.
  • Learner strengths and weaknesses specific to lesson/unit goals.
  • Learner background knowledge for scaffolding new learning.
  • Learner preferences for representation, expression and engagement.
  • Learner language preferences.
  • Cultural relevance and understanding.


Step 3:  Measurable Outcomes and Assessment Plan

Prior to planning the instructional experience, establish how learning is going to be measured.

 Considerations should include:

  • Previously established lesson goals and learner needs.
  • Embedding checkpoints to ensure all learners are successfully meeting their desired outcomes.
  • Providing learners multiple ways and options to authentically engage in the process, take action and demonstrate understanding.
  • Supporting higher-order skills and encouraging a deeper connection with the content.  


Step 4:  Instructional Experience

Establish the instructional sequence of events. At minimum plans should include:

  • Intentional and proactive ways to address the established goals, learner variability and the assessment plan.
  • Establish a plan for how instructional materials and strategies will be used to overcome barriers and support learner understanding.  
  • A plan that ensures high-expectations for all learners and the needs of the learners in the margins (i.e. struggling and advanced), anticipating that a broader range of learners will benefit.
  • Integrate an assessment plan to provide necessary data. 

Considerations should be made for how to support multiple means of...

  1. Engagement: A variety of methods are used to engage students (e.g. provide choice and address student interest) and promote their ability to monitor their own learning (e.g. goal setting, self-assessment and reflection).
  2. Representation: Teacher purposefully uses a variety of strategies, instructional tools and methods to present information and content to anticipate student needs and preferences.
  3. Expression & Action: Student uses a variety of strategies, instructional tools and methods to demonstrate new understandings. 


Step 5:  Reflection and New Understandings

Establish checkpoints for teacher reflection and new understandings. Considerations should include:

  • Whether the learners obtained the big ideas and obtained the desired outcomes. (What data support your inference?)
  • What instructional strategies worked well? How can instructional strategies be improved?
  • What tools worked well? How could the use of tools be improved?
  • What strategies and tools provided for multiple means of representation, action/expression and engagement?
  • What additional tools would have been beneficial to have access to and why? 
  • Overall, how might you improve this lesson?

Download the UDL Instructional Planning Process (PDF)