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Building Bridges Between Gen Ed and Special Ed

Learn how to facilitate high-quality inclusive instructional experiences that blend and utilize SDI and UDL.

This course is designed to give participants the needed mindset and skills for facilitating high quality inclusive instructional experiences that blend targeted Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) with rigorous standards based instruction that utilizes the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). This course is meant to be a resource for special education teachers, general education teachers, service providers, paraprofessionals, and/or district and site leaders. 

In this course we will be working to cross the unfortunate and often under discussed chasm that is general education and special education. The course design very much sees the two areas of educational thought, practice, and specialization as complementary to each other and an integrated approach as the way forward to a more personalized, adaptive and yet rigorous experience of American public education. This course is built on a framework centered on ways to design systems and steer educational practice toward fully inclusive educational environments in efforts to reorganize schools as problem solving entities.  

Thank you so much for joining us! Your thoughts and ideas are critical for moving this work forward. We welcome new perspectives, disagreement, and each other’s best collective thinking to make schools a better place for all students, especially those needing specially designed instructional practices.

At a Glance






1-Year of Access








Zach SMith

Course Objectives

Understand how to apply specially designed instruction for students with the most complex learning needs within universally designed learning environments.

Learn about Specially Designed Instruction and its role in supporting students with the most complex needs while discovering/relearning the core foundations of Universal Design for Learning.
Learn how UDL and SDI interact with each other. 
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About Your Instructor

Zach Smith was born and raised in Fresno, California. Growing up with siblings with disabilities, Zach saw first hand the impact of exclusionary instructional practices. After graduating from Fresno State, he began his career as a special education teacher. He worked for eight years in a small rural district named Sanger Unified. In his last three years with Sanger, he moved outside the classroom to co-lead the implementation of UDL for all teachers in the district. Zach has extensive knowledge in UDL; presenting, coaching, planning, and building organizational capacity around this initiative. In the fall of 2019, Zach started a new chapter in his professional journey as a student in Harvard’s Doctorate of Education Leadership program. Zach lives with his wife and best friend Dorothy, as well as their four daughters, Grace (10), Amy (8), Isabella (6), and Sydney(3). Zach is a passionate advocate for the power of inclusion to revolutionize the way teachers teach and as paramount for closing opportunity and achievement gaps in today’s classrooms.


What to Expect

How the Course Works

  • Each module begins with a short video to orient you to the topic and lesson. 
  • As you navigate through the course, each module features key lessons accompanied by opportunities to dive deeper into the content by reviewing readings and resources. 
  • Following each lesson, you'll have the option to post to the discussion board and/or to self-reflect on your learning from the module. 
  • Receive your completion certificate for 10 continuing education hours.
  • A final project, optional for all, a requirement for graduate credit. Upon successful completion, receive an additional completion certificate for 5 continuing education hours plus 1 graduate credit from the university of your choice (Teachers College of San Joaquin or Gordon College).
  • Runs on the Thinkific platform. 


There are no required texts for this course.  All materials are linked freely within the modules. 


Pricing Options

Our standard and group pricing covers your course registration with Novak Educational Consulting, Inc. only. You may also choose to purchase graduate credits and/or clock hours (for Washington State teachers) at the time of registration. For questions regarding pricing or to request a purchase order, contact us.

Course Certificates & Transcripts

You will receive a completion certificate from Novak Education at the conclusion of the course. Please check in with your school or district to determine if this alone will be sufficient for salary points or advancement. Some states require additional proof of completion such as clock hours, contact hours, or credits (CTLE Hours and Washington State Clock Hours are available). Graduate credits (1 continuing education credit) may be obtained through our university partners. Please check with your school or district to ensure these will satisfy their requirements prior to enrolling. Learn more about our graduate partners: Gordon College and Teachers College of San Joaquin.