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Kristin Crump
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Kristin Crump
Blog Entry #1
February 22, 2018
EDL 689

Key Differences and Similarities Between Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction
Differentiation begins with the student. Often formative assessments guide instruction and strategies are put in place based on individual need. Tomilinson, refers to differentiating as a three step procedure where content is delivered, students process information and a product is delivered. The content is what the student learns, the process is how the students learn and the product is the demonstration of what they learned. Differentiating has the feel of “one size fitting some” and stresses an importance on identifying individual barriers to increase student success by addressing learning needs. Instructional goals and objectives are in place and a continuum of research based skill building guides the instruction and assessments. Differentiating creates multiple paths for learning through a menu of options. In a positive learning environment, the teacher decides which instructional strategy is best suited for individual learning styles. With a focus on individual learning, students are able to access the full curriculum.
Universal Design for Learning, was conceived from Universal Design, a concept used in creating buildings. Buildings were designed with ramps for example, initially for wheelchair accessibility; however, overtime, people with strollers, heavy items, rolling cart deliveries, bikers, etc. began accessing the ramp to enter the building. This concept became the educational framework known as UDL. If something is designed with one intention, why can’t everyone access it and use it to their benefit? This analogy makes so much sense to me. UDL is a universal (all) design (curriculum and instruction) that minimizes barriers and maximizes learning. Reaching the wide spectrum of learners through the concept of three principles: Representation- what of learning, Action and Expression- how of learning and Engagement- why of learning. The flexible learning environment allows students to access their learning through a variety of representations. While planning, teachers should recognize student need and allow expression and communication to take place in a variety of formats, poems, skits, journals, and blogs, for example. Options for student engagement should include a variety of mindsets, interests, abilities. Students should be given choices while learning in a flexible, supportive environment where barriers are broken and success increases. Information Retrieved from: Making Sense of Universal Design for Learning https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOUdmzaZrc8
The key concept with both principles is accessibility to the full curriculum through collaboration, instructional variety and meeting the diverse learning needs of all students.

Blog Entry #2
Roadblocks of DI/UDL
The number one roadblock I perceive in the general classroom is time. Depending on class size, a teacher may feel differentiating all lessons as an overwhelming defeat. As an instructional leader I would stress the importance of collaboration, provide access to the appropriate resources, and coordinate common plan time and professional development. I would support my teachers and allow time for them to participate in instructional rounds, where new teachers could observe effective UDL/differentiating strategies from a veteran teacher. With either practice, I believe collaboration is essential. Recently, I experienced effective collaboration in differentiating an assignment for struggling students. As a special education teacher, I offered a technique for five of my students who were having difficulties with a writing assignment. While students were accessing the same curriculum they quickly became relieved with the format I suggested and the teacher was grateful for the assistance.
The implementation of UDL seems much easier. I like the concept and feel in the long run, is much less time consuming. The flexibility and choices for students various learning styles leads them to access the curriculum in a non-threatening way. I think of the LD student who has to read an assignment and write a lengthy summary and how intimidating this could be. While acquiring the skill of writing is important, I believe we could learn a lot from the student who can respond with technology by using talk to text or another form of expression. I sometimes wonder how much we do not know about our students learning, based on the delivery of instructional strategies. Not sure, however, with the implementation of UDL, I can’t help but wonder if some teachers would feel a loss of control over the content or their own instructional practices?
As a leader I would stress the importance for all students having access to content and appropriate instructional strategies while appreciating individual’s diverse learning needs.
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