This fact sheet is intended to help parents, educators and administrators learn more about how UDL can support gifted and talented students in their schools and districts.
Traditional classrooms are not able to effectively reach all students because of their reliance on one-size-fits all curricula, which teach to a fictional “average”. One of the groups that has not been effectively reached within the general education classroom is learners with gifts and talents.
A learning environment designed using the UDL framework recognizes individual learner variability within diverse classrooms, including students who are gifted or talented. The resulting flexibility encourages multiple paths for student success.
First, a learning environment designed using UDL provides appropriate levels of challenge. In the case of learners with gifts and talents, they may appear to be unengaged if the activities are too easy or rigid. For example, they may need a more creative or demanding options for expressing their understanding.
Second, a UDL learning environment allows students to progress at their own pace toward the goal(s). Many times in the case of learners with gifts and talents this is an accelerated pace. In terms of designing curricula or lesson planning, this could mean offering learners extension activities, advanced readings, or critical thinking activities, while also allowing them to go back and review activities and lessons they have already completed.
Of course. A UDL environment does not limit these supports and activities to one group of learners. All learners have a chance to engage in these useful activities. Further, in this type of environment, learners with gifts and talents also have access to the supports and activities that other students are using. This is important because, although learners with gifts and talents might excel in a certain area, there are other areas where they may still need support.
For example, a student might excel in mathematics, but have difficulties reading. Although this student understands the mathematical concepts, he or she might struggle with word problems. In this case, the student can use text-to-speech or the word problems could be read aloud - supports other students might also be using.
The National UDL Task Force works to incorporate the principles of UDL into federal policy and practice initiatives. Recommendations of the Task Force on teacher and faculty preparation to use UDL strategies were incorporated into the recently passed Higher Education Opportunity Act. Recommendations have been made for the reauthorization of ESEA (NCLB) and will also be made for IDEA. In addition, the Task Force seeks increased dissemination of information about UDL by the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies. See the UDL Toolkit at OSEP IDEAs That Work on ED.gov.
The National UDL Task Force is comprised of more than forty education and disability organizations. View the complete list of organizations.
Please visit our website at udl4allstudents.com or contact Ricki Sabia at rsabia [at] ndss [dot] org (rsabia[at]ndss[dot]org).
The National Center for Universal Design for Learning also contains information about UDL, resources for UDL implementation, and research. It also includes a community section.
Last Updated: 09/06/2011