Week 15- UD and other theories or Approaches
April 24, 2012
Universal design is having curriculum planning, strategy and materials in place in advance to meet the needs of all learners. It should ensure that the classroom and other learning environments and strategies can be used and are accessible for students as possible by meeting their different needs, age, abilities because some of them are low achievers, or brilliant and others struggle in reading, writing, and math or even lack motivation or have other difficulties and problems.
Curriculum tells teachers what to teach, while differentiated instruction tells teachers how to teach it to a range of learners by employing a variety of teaching approaches using accommodations through technology, materials, sequences and procedures to help a learner be successful in the classroom.
Differentiation is when all of these strategies are applied to the instruction for all learners in the classroom and are incorporated in the curriculum with planning processes and examples that could be provided and applied to the students, teaching and learning situations. “To differentiate instruction is to recognize students’ varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning and interests; and to react responsively. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process.” As Hal Nicole, Strangman and Anne Meyer indicated in their report “Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation Effective Classroom Practices.”
The theory behind differentiated instruction comes from the views of Vygotsky (1980).
According to Vygotsky, social context and the interactions of the student within that social
Context plays a fundamental role in the acquisition of knowledge. Students in their “zone of
Proximal development” can, with assistance, resolve a problem that they could not have
Resolved alone and move on to another level of knowledge.
When teachers provide dynamic, flexible and clear instructions while scaffolding students and monitoring them through collaborative work, they could implement UDL, because when children mingle and work in a social context they can exchange information and use different strategies of learning. Working in small group instruction, literary circles, investigation groups using multiple intelligences such spatial, kinesthetic, tactile, audio visuals or technology such as wikies, blogs and internet enable students to access learning from different perspectives and choose the strategy that fit their abilities and methods of learning.
The teacher can differentiate one or a number of the following elements in any classroom learning situation (Tomlinson, 2004):
• The content or what the students are going to learn, in other words, the concepts that the teachers should deliver to students. The content should address in the same concepts to all the students but level of complexity should be adjusted and accommodated according to the needs and diversity of students.
• The processes or activities and the procedures that the teacher is going to engage students in should be flexible and variable; she could deliver the main idea to the whole class, then divide them in small groups and coach their work and assess their progress.
• The products or the practice and accomplishment that follow the learning period and the ongoing assessment to the students’ progress by assessing them before delivering the content, while and after the completion of the learning process.
To sum up, I can say that the differentiations and UDL are integrated and are not separable because you can’t use UDL without differentiations and also if you differentiate that means you follow UDL. Though UDL is designed in advance to meet the needs of different student diversion after studying the environment, background of the students and their readiness to study, whereas the differentiation in instruction is embedded in the curriculum and ready to be used, but when the teachers adjust them and don’t apply them literary as they are they could be universal.
I would like to raise this question: Are all the teachers able to meet the needs of the students as some of the teachers have some special needs that need to be met?
The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students with Special Education Needs, Kindergarten to Grade 6 (2005)
National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC) Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation Effective Classroom Practices Report By Tracey Hall, Nicole Strangman, and Anne Meyer