Differentiation is hard. It is especially difficult when you have only one or two students who are significantly lower than the other students in your class. One of my students, M, has severe cerebral palsy and has no verbal communication. She uses a binder filled with pictures to communicate. She will point to pictures to say what she wants or needs. She can have conversations with her classmates. She can answer questions.
One of the exceptional needs teachers at my school gave me the idea to use one of M's "picture pages" as a way to offer a word and picture bank for my third grade student, J, who is at a pre-primer reading and writing level.
J has limited verbal, writing, and reading skills. He always dictates his writing to a scribe. We have been working with J to help him realize that scribble scrabble is not writing. Most of the time when he is writing he will write his name followed by a row of yeyeyeyeyeye. When he does this we ask him if this is how writers write and he will reply, "no it's scribble scrabble."
So to help J become more independent (let's face it--I cannot do 1:1 dictation to a scribe every day), I showed him the picture page/word bank. I modeled how to use it and create a sentence. I had him practice using this for a verbal conversation. He struggled turning the pictures he pointed to into a written sentence. I decided to give him chips to place on the pictures to help him remember what he wanted to say. This worked and he was so happy to write a sentence independently!