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Meeting the Multiple Needs of Learners


"Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction."
Carol Ann Tomlinson

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based set of principles to guide the design of learning environments that are accessible and effective for all. First articulated by CAST in the 1990s and now the leading framework in an international reform movement,  UDL informs all of our work in educational research and development, capacity building, and professional learning. ("UDL provides an approach with many paths to learning that benefits all students without forcing them to self-identify as needing unique support."


  • UDL At A Glance
    • Understand UDL and the three brain networks
  • UDL Guidelines
    • These guidelines offer a set of concrete suggestions that can be applied to any discipline or domain to ensure that all learners can access and participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities.
      • Direct links to strategies for each of the means
  • Universal Design for Learning presentation by Anne Thorp, PhD
    • The nuts and bolts of UDL
    • Links and resources 
    • What UDL is, and what UDL is not
  • UDL & the Learning Brain
    • "There is no average brain."
    • In the past decade, there have been unprecedented ways to examine the living brain and to better understand what happens during learning. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was inspired by such advances in cognitive neuroscience research and offers a framework that integrates what we know about the learning brain to inform the design of environments that support all learners.
      • CAST (2018). UDL and the learning brain. Wakefield, MA: Author.
  • UDL Curriculum Self-Check
    • Helps PreK-12 educators build options and flexibility into each element of the curriculum in order to reach and engage all students.
  • PBS Misunderstood Minds
    • Find out what it's like to live with learning challenges
      • Select a learning issue on the left side to experience what it's like to deal with that issue every day
  • Free learning tools
    • As part f its barrier-busting mission, CAST offers a number of robust (and free) learning tools. These tools, designed and tested as part of CAST’s research projects, help educators, parents, and students experience the power of flexible learning environments.
      • UDL Studio
        • Allows anyone to make universally designed educational materials with levels of learning supports.
      • UDL Exchange
        • Enables PreK-12 educators to create, mix, and share instructional resources based on UDL and aligned to the Common Core State Standards.
      • UDL Book Builder
        • Enables PreK-12 educators to develop their own digital books to support reading instruction literacy learning.
      • iSolveIt Math Puzzles
        • Innovative, research-based games that teach essential math reasoning and problem-solving skills. Grades 6 and up.
      • UDL Curriculum Toolkit
        • Empowers curriculum developers and researchers author and publish educational materials that are flexible and responsive to the needs of all learners.
      • CAST Science Writer
        • A web-based writing tool that scaffolds the process of composing science-class and lab reports.
    • Screen Readers
  • Tar Heel Reader
    • A collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech-enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces
      • Find a book
      • Write a book

Strategic Implementation

To implement any of these initiatives in your classroom or for support in deciding which to use, please contact Anne Thorp, Instructional Technologist, or Kristin Blain, Assistive Technology Teacher Consultant, for assistance/guidance/coaching.