di and udl

Differentiated Instruction & UDL

Learning Environments for Multiple Learning Styles and Levels

In this activity you will become familiar with: Differentiated Instruction (DI), Diverse Learning, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

You will also explore and learn free technology tools to support the needs of all students. These tools will aid in meeting differentiation goals.
As educators, we must be aware of terminology, learning theory, resources available, and tools to differentiate instruction and support diverse learners.
The first part of this activity will check your understanding of terms, then you will reflect on how you can, or do apply these in your educational setting.

Differentiated Instruction (DI)

Click the link for the Reading Rockets site for a definition of differentiated instruction. Select one or two of the Basics articles. As you read through key elements that guide differentiation, take note of elements you already incorporate in your teaching. Also, check out this informative Scholastic article written by Laura Robb where she has listed 9 practices to differentiate instruction.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is a theoretical framework and is addressed at the National Center for Universal Design for Learning site. Read more about UDL at the Cast website. Make sure to look at the Additional Resources page.

There are three fundamental principles to help you design your teaching and learning environment so all students are successful. These principles can be supported through the use of digital materials. 

The three principles are: 

  • Support recognition learning by providing multiple, and flexible methods of presentation 

  • Support strategic learning by providing multiple, and flexible methods of expression and apprenticeship

  • Support affective learning by providing multiple, and flexible options for engagement

Watch the (6:37 minute) Video from the National Center on UDL and learn more about three UDL principles.

  1. Multiple means of representation (recognition) 

  2. Multiple means of action and expression 

  3. Multiple means of engagement 

Take note of how these can be used in your learning environment to meet the multiple needs of your learners.

Please take a moment and watch the Connected Educator video below featuring Kit Hard using technology with students to clear the path for all learners (direct link to the video).


Accessibility Features of some common operating systems and browsers:

Speech Recognition has progressed by leaps and bounds. Smartphones have a microphone located on the keyboard that translates your speech into text for text messaging and working in documents. Desktops and laptops have speech recognition features to control the interface with your computer.

When you need a period say "period."
When you need a new line, say "new line."
When you are done click the microphone icon to turn it off

Free text-to-speech converters

Below are websites that allow you to copy and paste text into them in order to hear the printed text. Some will even allow you to change the voice to be heard in a different language and give you a choice between a male or female voice. These converters are not only beneficial for those with reading difficulties, but are helpful for those who prefer to listen rather than read. They also allow writers to hear one's own pieces (or compositions) to critique for grammatical errors and comprehension.

Vozme        Natural Reader          

Make Your PC Presentations Accessible with ZoomIt!

More ZoomIt Shortcuts                                    zoomit

Ctrl + left click and drag = BOX
Shift + left click and drag = LINE
Shift + Ctrl + left click and drag = ARROW
Tab + left click and drag = OVAL

Check out additional resources for DI and UDL. 

Check out additional resources for DI and UDL

Learning Objectives

After completing this Thing, the educator will:

  • Know what differentiated instruction and universal design are

  • Understand the three UDL principles

  • Make connections with technology standards and best practice

  • Transfer the learning to professional practice to provide resources to differentiate in the classroom



21 Things Hands-On Activity and Assignment:

1.  Differentiated Learning Assignment - As you read through the key elements of differentiation, take note of the elements you already use in your teaching to differentiate instruction. List or write a few paragraphs about these in your Digital Portfolio.

2. Universal Design for Learning Assignment - Explore the UDL Guidelines page and reflect in your Digital Portfolio on how at least two of the guidelines will support teaching and learning in your classroom. 

3. Text-to-Audio Conversion Assignment - Using one of the free text-to-speech converters, create a text-to-audio recording. Capture a screenshot while you are creating the audio recording. In your Digital Portfolio include the screenshot and a reflection on how this tool will support learners in your classroom. 

4. Take the very short survey giving feedback for this Thing.


Addressing the ISTE Standards For Educators

1a. Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
1c. Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.

2b. Advocate for equitable access to educational technology, digital content and learning opportunities to meet the diverse needs of all students.
2c. Model for colleagues the identification, exploration, 
evaluation, curation and adoption of 
new digital resources and tools for learning.

3a. Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
3b. Establish a learning culture that promotes curiosity and critical examination of online resources and fosters digital literacy and media fluency.

7a. Provide alternative ways for students to demonstrate competency and reflect on their learning using technology.


1. Cues, Questions, Advance Organizers;
2. Summarizing and Notetaking;
3. Assigning Homework and Practice

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