To meet the needs of the widest range of students, what should teachers consider when planning their instruction?
Page 9: Implementation Issues
As the Sycamore Middle School team becomes more knowledgeable about implementing UDL, they realize that teachers need to accomplish a number of steps to effectively incorporate the approach into their instruction.
Click on the items in the list below to view a summary of these steps.
Teachers need to learn how to present information and assess students’ learning in multiple ways. Though technology typically allows them to do so most efficiently and effectively, teachers need to understand that a number of teaching strategies (e.g., allowing opportunities to practice, providing explicit instructions) and simple physical accommodations (e.g., clearly labeled instructions, written and graphic, on all materials) can make learning accessible to students.
Teachers should become aware of the resources (e.g., media tools, Web accessibility, learning software, technology support) available to them through the school, district, or the Internet and catalog this information. Because many of these resources involve integrating technology, teachers may find it necessary to attend a training session or seek out the assistance of a technology specialist.
Once teachers are ready to incorporate UDL principles into their instruction, they should:
- Examine existing curricular components (i.e., learning goals, instructional materials, instructional methods, and assessments) to identify barriers
- Use UDL principles to modify learning goals, instructional materials, instructional methods, and assessments
- Teach the lesson, evaluate student outcomes, and revise as needed
When implementing any new practice such as UDL, it is important for teachers to gain administrative support. Administrators can give their backing by:
- Funding equipment or materials
- Offering needed professional or in-service training
- Fostering collaboration between general and special education teachers
- Providing encouragement and emotional support
Because parental involvement has a positive effect on children’s school success, parents can be an incredible resource for teachers when they implement UDL. They can:
- Contact local and district school administrators to advocate for UDL instruction
- Volunteer in the classroom (e.g., scanning materials, providing technology support)
- Assist with homework
Although UDL strives to meet the needs of all students in the classroom, this is not always an accomplishable goal. In some cases, teachers will find it necessary to use other instructional approaches and supports to meet the needs of individual students. Teachers should have knowledge of these practices in addition to UDL. No single instructional practice provides all of the necessary accessibility and supports to best meet the learning needs of all students. Some of these other instructional approaches and supports include:
Differentiated Instruction: An approach in which teachers vary and adapt instruction based on the individual needs of students in the classroom; examples of how to differentiate instruction include flexible grouping and immediate corrective feedback.
Accommodations: A service or support that allows a student to access the general education curriculum without changing the content or the expectations; examples include audio books and un-timed tests.
Modifications: Sometimes referred to as adaptations, a change to the general education instructional content or expectations; examples include assigning lower-level reading material and requiring mastery of a few skills instead of the total number that is expected to be mastered at a given grade level.
Assistive Technology: Any device or service that aids an individual with disabilities in accessing the general education curriculum; examples include index cards (low-tech) and screen readers (high-tech).
Grace Meo talks about the distinctions among these four instructional approaches and supports, and David Rose emphasizes that UDL is the foundation of a good learning environment and may minimize the need for some of these supports.
Former CAST Director of Professional
Development & Outreach Services
CAST founder; Chief Scientist,
Cognition & Learning
Transcript: Transcript: Grace Meo
There are clear distinctions that people confuse in thinking about the terms assistive technology, accommodations, modifications, and differentiated instruction. Assistive technology are typically referred to as devices or services that individual students or individuals would have to help them access information or access space. A single switch would be considered an assistive technology. Accommodations and modifications are often used interchangeably; however, there is a distinction. An accommodation provides different ways for students to access information without changing the goal. You don’t lower the standard or you don’t change the goal. A student actually would respond to the same goal, but you might provide extended time. That is nothing that would interfere with the achievement of the goal. A modification is actually a direct change in either the content or the instructional level of the goal. This, in fact, does put a student on a different track for achieving the same standard that we were expecting all students to achieve. Differentiated instruction is a process for looking at an individual child and determining whether or not the child is succeeding, it’s a different framework for thinking about the curriculum and the child but with initial focus on the individual child.
Transcript: David Rose
UDL differs in that the point of entry is at the design stage, how you begin to design a good learning environment, a good lesson, a good curriculum. UDL seeks to get to the core of the curriculum, to design it so that it is a good curriculum for all students from the beginning. Assistive technologies, accommodations, modifications typically come after, as does differentiated instruction.