Scaffolding Up!

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • May 4, 2018, 2:54 p.m.

Tier one classroom instruction is always about learning grade level standards. But what about the kids that aren't quite there yet? How do we scaffold them up to achieve those standards? Here are a few ways to make accommodations that get kids where they need to be.

Record the Reading

Record the reading and create a QR code so that students can listen to something read aloud and then do the work they need to do. Click here for directions on how to create a QR code.


Put students on teams with others who are slightly more/less proficient than them. Assign a reader to the group to ensure that everybody knows what the problem or task says.

Discussion Time

Give teams time to discuss the learning target, success criteria, and the task BEFORE they begin to do any independent work. This will help everyone start off with the information they need to successfully achieve the goal.


Make sure every team member has a specific role so that they stay engaged in thinking through the task with their team. The roles should allow for each student to demonstrate the learning target and success criteria. If the task is working a complex word problem, roles might be the summarizer, organizer, planner, computation checker, and justifier.

Manipulatives & Resources

Make sure students have immediate access to resources and manipulatives they can use when they get stuck or to justify their thinking. This includes anchor charts with information about the thinking it takes to be successful.

Bridging gaps will accelerate learning much faster than trying to fill gaps. We need to scaffold up, not down to help all children achieve grade level standards. All learners need to work on challenging, grade level tasks that create opportunities to make sense of the concepts and procedures in order for learning to stick. If this isn't part of the Tier One focus for all students, the gaps are going to widen.

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

Learn More »