Course Title:

Physical Science in the STEM Integrated PreK-6 Classroom, SOE


This course was developed to serve experienced Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teachers seeking to be curriculum leaders. However, the graduate students enrolled have typically been novice classroom teachers from non-STEM backgrounds. A central course objective is developing effective science instruction through an equity and diversity lens, and the course employs a variety of UDL principles. More explicitly drawing attention to how UDL was modeled in the course design enabled the graduate student educators to effectively employ similar strategies within their own K-12 teaching contexts (Moore, 2017).

Areas of Focus:

  • Align learning objectives with assessments
  • Represent content in a variety of formats 
  • Provide diverse assessment strategies
  • Incorporate active learning strategies

“The educators taking this course are as diverse as the K-12 students we teach, with a wide variety of background experiences and goals. One goal we have in common is engaging our students as learners and doers of STEM, and the UDL social justice lens can support advancing STEM equity for all learners. While I previously implemented many UDL principles in the course, explicitly drawing students’ attention to these UDL elements modeled how they might implement similar strategies in their own classrooms.”

 Sara Shunkwiler, instructor

  • Barrier to Student Success

    K-12 STEM educators struggled to design effective and equitable science instruction given the variability in their own background knowledge and experience, teaching contexts, and learner diversity.

  • Solution

    Physical Science in the PreK-6 STEM Integrated Classroom is a chemistry and physics content course for K-12 educators and STEM instructional leaders who serve in a wide variety of teaching contexts. As both a science content and methods course, educators are encouraged to use the UDL framework to plan and create equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant STEM learning experiences. The course text, Equity by Design: Delivering on the Power and Promise of UDL by Mirko Chardin and Katie Novak (2021), introduces educators to a social justice approach to STEM education.

    Senior Instructional Designer Kelly Cooney and instructor Sara Shunkwiler felt it was key to address principles of equity and diversity in STEM instruction while teaching science content. Therefore, the course models UDL principles that support learner diversity in the graduate students who are practicing teachers. At the same time, the course explicitly demonstrates how to apply UDL to promote equity in their own K-12 STEM classrooms (Moore, 2017).

  • Student Testimonial

    Montgomery County (Maryland) Educator Erika Shields, a student in the class, knew how influential UDL could be for her own students, especially the UDL principle of providing multiple means of action and expression. When asked about her experience in the STEM Instructional Leader program and UDL specifically, Erika shared:  

    “Long before I had a class of my own, I saw how influential UDL can be for students. The UDL principle that has been my focus is multiple means of action and expression through the use of technology. Often students’ skills and knowledge aren’t evident because of language barriers and lack of services. The technology support of text-to-speech and speech-to-text has been used as a pillar of equity in my classroom. I have seen bilingual students beam with pride after being able to read virtual books independently. I have seen my students with ADHD complete and publish their own writing pieces with minimal teacher support. Technology has given some, if not all, of my students the ability to express themselves efficiently.”  – Erika Shields, Master of Education Candidate 

     In 2021, Erika was featured in a Maryland State Education Association article titled, Toolkit: Lots O’Bots in a Montgomery County Elementary School. 

  • Alignment with UDL
  • Additional Information

    Division/Department: School of Education
    HUDL Ambassador: Donna Schnupp
    Faculty Name: Sara Shunkwiler
    Instructional Designer: Kelly Cooney

    Moore, E. J. (2017). Modeling as Teaching: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Implement Universal Design for Learning [Doctoral dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville].

    Chardin, M., & Novak, K. (2021). Equity by design: Delivering on the power and promise of UDL. Corwin.

    Novak, K., & Rodriguez, K. (2016). UDL progression rubric.