While there may not be a single school, classroom, or teacher that meets all the needs of your child, a framework from which to approach planning, instruction, and learning may be a good place to start. The framework is Universal Design for Learning, or UDL. “Universal design for learning (UDL) is a framework to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights into how humans learn.” (http://www.cast.org/our-work/about-udl.html#.VP-YcSmtBpI)
According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning:
“Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.” (http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/whatisudl)
The three principles of UDL are:
1.) Multiple Means of Engagement (The “why” of learning) How learners are challenged and motivated to learn.
2.) Multiple Means of Representation (The “what” of learning) How content is presented so students can all learn about the topic.
3.) Multiple Means of Action and Expression (The “how” of learning) Creative ways to express what students know
Within each principle are guidelines to help teachers and others plan their classroom and approach to learning. If the entire learning experience is built from the ground up with UDL at the core, then many other things fall into place. Behaviors are reduced because students are engaged in learning. Differentiation becomes less of a burden and barrier because there are strategies and methods already infused into the learning environment with UDL. Students are engaged, are able to learn at their own pace, while barriers to learning decreases. For gifted students UDL provides a means to explore topics in depth, while producing creative ways to show what they learned.
Today’s classrooms are increasingly diverse. Along with that is the need to develop a learning environment that eliminates barriers and embraces individual differences, creativity, and learning at a student’s own pace. The resulting flexibility encourages multiple paths for student success.
For more information about UDL explore these resources (not an exhaustive list).
National Center for Universal Design for Learning
CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology):
What is UDL?
UDL Guidelines and Principles
Gifted and Talented FAQs