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Teaching to Diversity

The Three-Block Model of Universal Design for Learning

By Jennifer Katz
Foreword by Faye Brownlie
Series: Teaching to Diversity
Imprint: Portage & Main Press

Categories: Education, Inclusive Education, Professional Development, Training & Certification, Multicultural Education
Paperback : 9781553793533, 205 pages, July 2012
Ebook (PDF) : 9781553793540, 232 pages, July 2012


In Teaching to Diversity, Dr. Jennifer Katz synthesizes the research, and 16 years experience of teaching in inclusive classrooms and schools, to provide answers to several questions:

  • How do I make inclusion work for ALL students?
  • What are the foundational best practices of a truly inclusive learning community?
  • How does one create such a community?

The author pulls together, in an organized way, a three-block model of universal design for learning (UDL) and suggests a step-by-step approach for implementing it. This framework includes:
Block One, Social and Emotional Learning: details ways to build compassionate learning communities (K–12) in which all students feel safe and valued, and develop a positive self-concept, sense of belonging, and respect for diverse others.
Block Two, Inclusive Instructional Practice: includes a framework for planning units from K–12, and explains instructional and management practices for teaching, assessing, grading, and reporting in UDL Classrooms.
Block Three, Systems and Structures: suggests strategies for creating inclusive learning communities, and explores ways in which resource teachers, student services personnel, and school administrators can support and create socially and academically inclusive schools and classrooms.
The three-block model of UDL can empower educators with the knowledge, skills, and confidence required to teach diverse learners in the same classroom—including those who have previously been excluded. Ultimately, it is about creating classrooms and schools that heal by teaching to the heart, mind, and spirit of every student.


The three-block model of universal design for learning fills the gap between the theory of inclusive education and the classroom. Katz pulls critical how-to-teach ideas (e.g., multiple intelligences, differentiation, essential learning outcomes, co-teaching) into one understandable, usable package. Classroom teachers and their support teams can take these ideas directly to the job of designing and implementing instruction that works for all students - both socially and academically. Plus, while the themes are universal, Katz draws on Canadian experience, making the policy context more recognizable to educators in Canada.

John VanWalleghem, PhD, Adjust Professor, Univeristy of Manitoba

Jennifer Katz's true gift lies in her ability to make others think and reflect on their practices. Jennifer is a true instrument of change and is definitely contributing to a much needed paradigm shift!

Jennifer McGowe, Teacher, 7 Oaks School Division

The three-block model was a lifesaver when I taught grade 3 to a very diverse classroom. It allowed for everyone to feel successful within the classroom and targeted on building individual strengths and scaffolding challenges. Now, being a resource teacher, it has allowed me to assist others and and make learning enjoyable for all.

Josh Diduke, K-8 Resource Teacher, Ste. Anne Elementary