Saturday, March 19, 2016

Strategy: Scaffolding

Scaffolding is an instructional method used by teachers to help students gain independence and mastery on their own through a series of steps.  Generally, scaffolding begins with the teacher performing a task by showing the class how to do it.  Next, the teacher should have the students do the task along with them.  Finally, the teachers will create autonomy and require students to do the activity completely on their own.  This ensures that all students see the process first, experience it with help, and then are able to achieve it on their own.

Scaffolding proves to be especially useful for ELLs because they can feel comfortable with learning new things and using the language with their teacher or classmates first and then work up to independently completing tasks. Two important areas for scaffolding with ELLs are vocabulary instruction and reading comprehension, because these are areas that deal with language and content knowledge.

Here is a list of activities you can try to scaffold instruction for all students, but especially ELLs:
  1. During a lesson or unit, start with level one questions (recall), more to level two questions (application), and then to level three questions (reflections/connections with the real world).
  2. Math: model problems on the board and explain them.  Next, have students help you explain the process.  Finally, allow students to try problems on their own, but provide feedback.
  3. Think-Pair-Share: This is one of my favorite methods, and it allows students to work together but also independently.  When asking a question or opinion on a topic, have students think about it on their own, then pair with a partner to discuss, then share the responses with the whole class.
  4. Use of graphic organizers like: KWL, concept webs, semantic outlines, and foldables can be scaffolded and also available for later use.
  5. Science: When doing lab work, model the task, then have students explain the task back to you, then have them perform it on their own.
  6. Vocabulary: Present words with definitions, pictures, etc.  Then, have students work together to give examples of these words.  Finally, have students work alone to create sentence using the words.  
The following video is an awesome example of scaffolding (especially with ELLs), and it demonstrates the method called "I Do, We Do, You Do."  (3 mins. long)

- Photo Credit: Bigstock, AndrewPopov
- Video Credit: "I Do, We Do, You Do."  The Teaching Channel.

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