Differentiated Instruction and Universal Design for Learning
In the 2005 release of Education for All: The Report of the Expert Panel on Literacy and Numeracy Instruction for Students with Special Education Needs and the subsequent release of Learning for All, the Ontario Ministry of Education clearly encouraged momentum for teachers in Ontario to utilize Differentiated Instruction (DI) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as foundational parts of their instructional process in order to address the needs of all learners, including those with special needs. Partnering for Change provides support at all tiers, bringing a different knowledge base and set of skills to support classroom teachers in context.
In 2006, Special Education Transformation: The Report of the Co-Chairs with Recommendations of the Working Table on Special Education also clearly reinforced that regular class should be the first choice of setting for children with special needs in Ontario schools. One of the overarching goals of this report was a movement from a reactive model of referral for rehabilitation services to a proactive one that focused on prevention. This report also recognized that collaboration and consultation through service integration with all health and educational partners was essential to success.
Currently in the province of Ontario a variety of service delivery models exist for students with special needs. Some school boards continue to have self-contained settings for students with special needs (in particular, for students with developmental disabilities) while others embrace a more inclusive model.
For school boards working towards increasing inclusion, P4C provides a complementary process that focuses on intervention at the classroom level, where the curriculum is delivered. The OT does not remove the child from the classroom but provides multiple opportunities, in context, to enhance teacher practice and knowledge with regard to working with students with diverse needs. P4C also provides proactive intervention for students who have not yet been recognized but who may be in need of support. The P4C service:
- utilizes the regular classroom to provide rehabilitation services to students with a variety of needs,
- involves consultation and collaboration with the classroom teacher and other school personnel in authentic ways,
- allows for students’ learning to be optimized and the learning of all professionals to be enhanced,
- provides support at multiple levels.
P4C addresses the need to place instruction and rehabilitation within the child’s learning environment and thus maximizes the effectiveness of any suggestion or strategy. The collaborative relationship between professionals allows for learning to take place not just at the student level but even more importantly, at the practitioner level.