Scaffolding is an instructional approach that provides the gradual release of responsibility (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) for students as they develop proficiency. Stemming from Lev Vygotsky (1962) scaffolding or “collaborative dialogue” between the learner and the teacher allows students to move along a continuum of progress, from needing teacher support to eventually needing no teacher support. In the process of releasing responsibility to students, teachers scaffold or support using language and teaching tools that promotes growth and development.
Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris (2019) suggest “the graduate release structure can be applied within a single lesson or across lessons. The purpose of the gradual release of responsibility model is to increase the learning that students transfer to independent practice, thus developing more skilled and agentive readers and writers.”
There are three (3) steps in the gradual release of responsibility:
1 – The teacher models
2 – Students practice with others
3 – Students practice independently
In an effort to help teachers understand types of scaffolds and ways to utilize them for student academic support, I have created this gallery walk to explore. Each door provides a different type of scaffold with examples utilized with my middle school students. Three of the scaffolds include Screencasts, How-To Sheets, and Learning Centers.
A screencast is a great way for students to learn new topics or listen to a review. Using the tool, screencastify, plan and script an instructional screencast for teaching writing (writing an introduction, body, or counterclaim, etc). For a how-to video, click here. This approach can address the needs of visual/auditory learners. Here are a few examples of ones created for 8th grade students on essay writing.
A teacher made how-to sheet can be a powerful tool for building student responsibility for learning. Simple, step-by-step directions for accomplishing a skill can enable students to move forward independently. The how-to sheet should focus on learning a specific skill to address the needs of visual learners. Check out this sample.
A teacher-made learning center can be used to re-teach or move beyond a certain skill. Learning centers guide students to grapple with core concepts and skills. Learning centers can address your kinesthetic learners.
What does scaffolding mean for teachers in a blended or online learning environment? Scaffolding can take several different forms. From breaking down larger assessments into subtasks to providing examples and encouraging reflection, the goal of scaffolding is to create opportunities for students to receive structured support and grow as learners. Providing examples, models, and checklists can be beneficial for all learners. Using graphic organizers to help break down assignments into smaller chunks allowing students the opportunity to reflect, question, and even reach out for help if they need it. Additionally, providing directions in written format, audio using an App like Mote: Voice Notes & Feedback for students to hear the directions or providing a screencast to review the directions as many times as needed and guides the students through the learning process.
Northern Illinois University’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center notes some additional ways students benefit from instructional scaffolding:
- Scaffolding challenges students through deep learning and discovery.
- Scaffolding helps learners become better students.
- Scaffolding increases the likelihood of student success.
- Scaffolding individualizes instruction.