Keener/Bell to Present at National Symposium on Universal Design

(Sept. 28, 2018) – Wooster High School’s (WHS) Principal Tyler Keener and English Teacher Rebekah Bell were recently selected to co-present at the inaugural National Symposium for Universal Design for Instruction and Learning (NSUDIL) at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC) in Columbus, Indiana.

The conference, which will take place Nov. 16-17, will contain two concurrent tracks: Higher Education track and a Teacher Education track. Keener and Bell will deliver their presentation during the latter track. 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a way of thinking about teaching and learning that helps give all students an equal opportunity to succeed. This translates to flexibility in the ways students access material, engage with lesson plans and show what they know. 

Bell, who is a member of WHS’s UDL team, submitted a proposal to NSUDIL after attending the Center for Applied Special Technology’s (CAST) National UDL Symposium at Harvard Law School this past summer. Bell was one of four WHS faculty members, including Alex Garey, Eric Heller and Nate Steiner, to attend CAST’s symposium with the aid of WHS’s Teacher Enrichment Fund through the Wayne County Community Foundation.

“It was at this symposium that I saw the power of collaborative learning among educators and administrators in the UDL trenches,” said Bell. “One of the keynote speakers, Joni Degner, encouraged me to think about a proposal for NSUDIL that deals with training teachers in UDL.”

Bell’s proposal, titled “Finding Our Why: One District’s UDL Journey,” discusses how the implementation of UDL at a district level from an administrator’s perspective mirrors what happens during UDL classroom implementation from a teacher’s perspective.  

“UDL focuses on the affective, recognition and strategic networks of the brain—the why, what and how of learning,” said Bell. “We'll be speaking to how all implementation, at a district and classroom level, must begin with the why. Why do we need change in our classrooms and district? Why do we do the things we do? Why are we teachers?”

NSUDIL will feature two keynote speakers: on Friday, Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, the director of Accessible Technology Services and affiliate professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington in Seattle, will share the history and framework of universal design; on Saturday, Dr. Loui Lord Nelson, an educational consultant and former post-doctoral fellow through CAST, will illuminate the lessons from her bestselling book, Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning.