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Not every student learns at the same pace as another student in a class, so teachers from every content area need to get creative in order to meet the needs of all students, some of whom may need just a little support or others who may need much more.
Finally, instructional scaffolding gives students practice in how to reduce complicated processes into manageable steps in order to be independent learners.
There are challenges to instructional scaffolding as well.
Instructional scaffolding increases opportunities for students to meet instructional objectives.
Such scaffolding may also include peer-teaching and cooperative learning which makes the classroom a welcome and collaborative learning space.
Developing supports for multi-step problems can be time-consuming.
Teachers have to know which scaffolds are appropriate for students, especially in communicating information. Finally, teachers have to be patient with some students who need longer periods of scaffolding as well as recognizing when to remove supports for other students.
Differentiation, however, may mean a difference in materials or options in assessment.
In differentiation, a teacher may use a variety of teaching techniques and lesson adaptations in order to instruct a diverse group of students who may have diverse learning needs in the same classroom.
Differentiation may be based on specific student needs such as their interests, their ability or readiness, and their learning style.
In differentiation, materials may be adapted to the learner.