SDIs in Virtual Learning Environments: Student Work SDIs (Post #5)

By Cassie Brusch – Project Consultant


Specially designed instruction (SDIs) may include accommodations and/or modifications to how students complete their assignments and assessments. Accommodations refer to the changes made in how a student may complete their assignments, therefore allowing the student to access the general education curriculum through a different means. While a modification refers to what type of assignment/assessment students complete; the student has an alternative to their peers based on their needs, as outlined in their IEP.

The chart highlights some examples of the SDIs and how they may be implemented with digital tools and resources. Teachers can access various digital tools that are free or through district/school subscriptions. One result of the closure of schools in 2020, is that schools/districts invested in various digital tools and platforms. Many of these digital tools can be used in various classroom settings: virtual, hybrid, and traditional. 

Looking at potential SDIs involving student work, one that is frequently used is a preferred response format. This allows students to access the general education curriculum through a preferred response method; for accommodations, the purpose is to change how the assignment/assessment is completed. For modifications, the purpose is to change what the assignment/assessment is.

Examples of digital tools to provide that SDI are Flipgrid and Google Docs (dictation). Flipgrid could allow students to respond via a video and allow for students to have a discussion through video responses rather than written discussion. Google Docs allows students the opportunity to respond by typing or dictating their responses. In an accommodation, this allows the student to have the same discussion, just in a preferred format. In a modification, this would involve a change in the discussion requirements through the use of Flipgrid and/or Google Docs. Remember, accommodations level the playing field, while modifications change the playing field.

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Full PaTTAN Guide

PaTTAN has developed this resource, which includes information about SDIs (specially designed instruction) and how to implement SDIs in virtual environments. In virtual environments these accommodations and modifications are implemented with digital tools and resources and IEP team members must be aware of how they are implemented. 

As this series continues, we will continue to look at how SDIs can be implemented in virtual environments. These virtual tools can be used in traditional classrooms as well. 


This series will continue with various SDIs in virtual environments. We will dive deeper into Student Work SDIs, Physical SDIs, and finally we will wrap this series up with Executive Functioning SDIs. 

For more information see the full resource here.

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