For Your Information

What is the difference between differentiated instruction and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Both attempt to maximize the learning of all students by offering multiple ways to learn content or skills and to demonstrate that knowledge. Additionally, both emphasize learning environments that are engaging and utilize ongoing assessments to make adjustments to meet the instructional needs of students. So what is the difference? The difference is in when and how changes are made to address the needs of students.

Differentiated InstructionUniversal Design for Learning
WhenDuring instruction when the teacher notices the students’ needsWhen designing the curriculum
HowMakes changes or adjustments to the curriculumBuilds resources and options into the curriculum

CAST, Inc. (2007)

How does response to intervention (RTI) fit in with differentiated instruction?

Both are instructional frameworks. Whereas the purpose of differentiated instruction is to address the needs of all students, the purpose of RTI is to identify and address the needs of struggling students. Though the two frameworks overlap—differentiated instruction is often provided in an RTI classroom—under RTI, students may receive more intensive levels of instruction than they would normally receive in a differentiated classroom.

How do adaptations (i.e., accommodations and modifications) fit with differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction might not be enough for some students to succeed. Those with disabilities might need additional supports—accommodations or modifications—to learn the concepts and skills being taught. These supports are identified in the student’s individual education program (IEP).

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