Differentiation involves providing guidance through introducing and fading prompts over time, as well as grouping students for instruction. These prompts, or scaffolds, provide students with guidance or support for responding as students are in the initial stages of learning. Prompts are faded as students move out of the initial stages of learning and begin building fluency and mastery with reading skills. Often, instructional materials will deliberately include these prompts or scaffolds for students but require teachers to determine when they can be phased out based on student performance. The goal is to ensure the prompts or scaffolds are appropriately faded to ensure that students do not become overly dependent on these supports for success.
Differention in Explicit Instruction
Explicit instruction involves the teacher modeling skills for students ("I do it"), teacher and students practicing together ("we do it"), and students demonstrating skills ("you do it") with feedback. The gradual release of responsibility for responding from the teacher to the student is another example of differentiation.
Differentiation in Small Group Instruction
To maximize instructional opportunities, students with similar needs are grouped together for small group instruction as a part of tier 1 instruction. This is another example of differentiation. The intent is to make sure students with the greatest needs are placed in the smallest groups with highly trained teachers. These groups are intended to be fluid and flexible groups meaning students can move in and out of groups based on their needs and performance. Student groups are often initially formed based on performance on universal screening measures or other performance data and modified based on performance on progress monitoring measures.