Universal Design for Learning

with Katie Novak, Ed.D.

MARIO Framework & Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Creating Expert Learners Together

The MARIO Framework wants to empower special educators to apply UDL principles within a one-to-one learning context. To this end, the MARIO Framework has teamed up with internationally renowned UDL expert Katie Novak, Ed.D. to ensure UDL principles are woven seamlessly throughout the MARIO 101 course. In addition, Katie Novak has further strengthened the UDL link by creating a series of videos that deepen understanding and provide further learning about the UDL framework.

CAST, the creator of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), defines UDL as a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn. UDL is a framework built on the core belief that all learners are capable of learning at high levels, personalizing their learning, and becoming expert learners when educators design and deliver instruction with firm goals and flexible means. For UDL practitioners, there is a deep belief that with optimal conditions, learner agency, and design thinking, all students can reach their highest potential. When learning is universally designed, all students have options and choices about how they learn, how they share what they have learned, and how they work through meaningful, authentic, and valuable challenges. 

The MARIO Framework empowers educators to create personalized learning experiences that are measured, ambitious, research-informed, innovative, and structured around one-to-one learning.

“Powerful learning happens when we focus on what’s meaningful, and what is meaningful for one learner isn’t necessarily meaningful for another learner.”

Philip Bowman

Founder of the MARIO Framework

UDL is an educational framework built upon decades of mind, brain, and education research  that espouses three primary principles, all of which remind educators to provide students with options for personalizing their education:

  1. Multiple means of engagement (The why of learning)
  2. Multiple means of representation (The what of learning)
  3. Multiple means of action and expression (The how of learning)

In a MARIO classroom, the Personalized Learning Plan reflects these principles by providing options for recruiting learner interest, sustaining effort and persistence, and encouraging self-regulation. Learners are given the choice and autonomy to work toward and reflect on goals that are personally relevant and meaningful, allowing them to make direct connections about the work they are doing.

When learners are provided with options and choices, they have opportunities to become expert learners who develop meta-attention, meta-comprehension, and meta-cognitive reflection. 

Through the MARIO classroom, learners begin to develop:

  • meta-attention through the creation and planning of their personalized learning goals;
  • meta-comprehension through regularly discussing their learning process in the one-to-one space with the educator modeling thinking processes;
  • meta-cognitive reflection through self-assessment in the one-to-one environment where the educator asks leading and guiding questions and provides self-monitoring tools.

“At its core, teaching is emotional work.”

David Rose

Cofounder of CAST

MARIO learners are given voice and choice from day one in the their classrooms. The process of empowering MARIO learners to be expert learners begins with the educator asking what learning is meaningful to the learner and listening. Together, the learner and the educator create meaningful and personalized goals, while simultaneously building a remarkably strong teacher-student relationship.  

Unique to a MARIO classroom, the learner shifts from being just another learner in a traditional classroom to having ultimate voice and choice. 

The personalized learning continuum as identified by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey, starts with voice and choice, which, in turn, encourages learners to express engagement, motivation, ownership, purpose, and eventually self-regulation in their learning process.

A MARIO learner’s journey on the personalized learning continuum is nurtured in the one-to-one environment where personalized and meaningful goals are broken down, problem solved, and reflected upon by the learner—through the guidance of the educator—and then immediately applied in the greater classroom context.

    “As educators, we have the power and privilege to create meaningful relationships with students as they become their best selves. By carving out time for 1:1 conferencing and support, students will have dedicated time to reflect, set goals, grow, and make meaningful connections in a model rich with scaffolding, mentoring, and modeling.”

    Katie Novak

    With the help of Universal Design for Learning and Katie Novak, MARIO Educators are empowered to guide their learners to achieve goals once thought unreachable.