What is Scaffolding?

Scaffolding is an instructional technique whereby the teacher models the desired learning strategy or task, then gradually shifts responsibility to the students.

What is its purpose?

Scaffolding essentially means doing some of the work for the student who isn't quite ready to accomplish a task independently. Like the supports that construction workers use on buildings, scaffolding is intended to be temporary. It is there to aid the completion of a task and it is eventually removed.

How can I do it?

  • Task definition
  • Model performance while thinking out loud - either direct or indirect instruction
  • Specification and sequencing of activities
  • Provide prompts, cues, hints, links, partial solutions, guides and structures
  • Fade when appropriate

How can I adapt it?

  • Pair advanced learners with developing ones
  • Engage students in cooperative learning. In this type of environment students help students in small group settings but still have some teacher assistance. This can serve as a step in the process of decreasing the scaffolds provided by the educator and needed by students.
  • Use apprenticeship model whereby an expert models an activity, provides the learner with advice and examples, guides the student in practice and then tapers off support until the student can do the task alone

Assessment & Evaluation Considerations

  • Teacher observation - includes anecdotal notes, class records, and classroom circulation
  • Student self-assessment - students rate their own behavior and the behavior of their peers using a rubric
  • Graphic Organizers - A graphic organizer is a specific type of scaffolding tool. It is a way to visually represent an idea—to use a drawing to organize one's thinking. Graphic organizers include cycles, webs (e.g., cluster, network, org chart, family tree, chain of events), maps (e.g., spider, fishbone, concept), continua (e.g., timelines, degree scales), matrices (e.g., compare/contrast, storyboard), Venn diagrams, and charts (e.g., flow, KWL, SQ3R).

Teacher Resources


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