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Curriculum Q & A Blog, Question 26

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    EL Education

Do you have questions about teaching the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum? We've got answers!

Come back every week for the latest from the Curriculum Q & A Blog.

Question: Now that I’ve collected evidence of student progress, what do I do with it? How can I best support students who need it?

In our last few posts we have focused on the various forms of evidence of progress teachers collect when teaching our curriculum. To refresh your memory, you can find the post for grades K–2 here, and the post for grades 3–5 here. Our most recent post focuses on “test-driving” the summative assessments as a strategy for gaining insight into the knowledge and skills students will need to be successful.  
Once you have assessed students in various ways and gathered evidence of their progress, what do you do with that information? 

The curriculum has been designed from the outset—based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning—to be supportive of students with varied learning needs. Also, extensive supports for English language learners (ELLs), such as Language Dives, are woven into every lesson to give students full access to the curriculum. Beyond these pillars of the design, considerations for differentiation are offered throughout the curriculum to best support all students. In the Module Lessons, the Teaching Notes, Supporting English Language Learners, Universal Design for Learning, and Meeting Students’ Needs sections provide guidance. 

However, despite the best-laid plans, sometimes students will still need additional scaffolding and support.

After analyzing data for trends, you can select differentiated approaches that allow each student to work toward the same high standards. Sometimes a differentiated approach will be useful for one student, a small group of students, or your entire class. You want to be sure that the strategy you implement serves the right student(s) and doesn’t impede those who are already succeeding. The list below highlights differentiation options to consider based on the needs of your students.

[Note: When the Curriculum Q & A Blog comes back from the holiday break on January 8th, we’re going to post a couple of questions specifically aimed at supporting English language learners, so stay tuned for those!]

Scaffolding Options

Lesson calls for reading chunks of the text independently:

  • For students who might get overwhelmed by seeing the whole text on a page, format the text in “bite size” pieces (e.g., one paragraph at a time on index cards or one page as a separate handout).
  • Have students read with a buddy.
  • Have small groups read with you or another teacher (or via technology).
  • Provide structured overviews for some sections of text.
  • Reformat texts to include more embedded definitions or even picture cues.
  • Provide the text to students in a clear format, either on a handout or displayed clearly via technology.
  • Though K–2 students will not be reading the text independently during close read-alouds, it is still important to chunk the text for them to follow along with as you read. These chunks of text should be displayed for all to see or students should have their own copies.

Lesson calls for answering questions:

  • Start with concrete text-dependent questions before moving to the abstract.
  • Tackle small sections at a time.
  • Once students have tried the task, provide additional modeling for those who need it.
  • Provide sentence stems or frames.
  • Highlight key ideas/details in the text.
  • Modify graphic organizers to include picture cues or additional step-by-step directions.
  • Post directions and anchor charts.
  • Provide “hint cards” that give students more support with text-dependent questions (students access these only when they get stuck). 
  •  Indicate where students may find key information in the text or on an anchor chart by marking with sticky notes or highlights.
  • Give options for responding to questions with drawing, drama, or discussion before writing.
  • Make time for guided work with the teacher.

Lesson calls for writing:

  • Modify graphic organizers to include picture cues or additional step-by-step directions.
  • Provide sentence starters and sentence frames.
  • Use discussion, including Conversation Cues, to help students orally rehearse their answers before responding in writing.
  • Model writing using a similar prompt or a different section of the text.
  • Make time for small group guided work with the teacher.
  • Make time for more frequent conferring.

Lesson calls for collaborative work:

  • Review norms for collaboration in advance and after group work.
  • Have small groups work with a teacher.
  • Form heterogeneous pairs (strategic partnerships).
  • Monitor specific students more strategically (e.g., seat them closer to a teacher).
  • Provide (and model) structured roles for group members.

Other literacy or intervention time:

  • Offer additional practice with fluency (e.g., oral reading, speaking with expression) and grammar rules.
  • Offer additional writing practice.
  • Offer additional work with structured phonics.
  • Pre-read with students the text used in the Module Lesson.
  • Have students read additional (easier) texts on the same topic or theme.
  • Have students reread texts used in Module Lessons.
  • Provide additional quality read-alouds, including via technology.
  • Pre-teach critical vocabulary.
  • Engage students in word study (e.g., structural analysis of specific words from the text).


  • Provide students with read-alouds via technology (e.g., audiobooks).
  • Provide picture cues or additional directions.
  • Provide sentence starters or sentence frames.
  • Provide video or slides of class examples on a website.
  • Modify expectations of quantity.

For more general information about our curriculum, check out our website or our book Your Curriculum Companion: The Essential Guide to Teaching the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum. If you have questions related to this blog, please email us at: