Scaffolding is an instructional strategy that supports students in mastering new skills and knowledge by providing temporary support and guidance. The term “scaffolding” was first introduced by Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) and has since been widely used in education. Scaffolding is particularly effective for students who may struggle with new concepts or who have limited prior knowledge. In this article, we will discuss five effective strategies for scaffolding in the classroom.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Activate Prior Knowledge
Activating prior knowledge is an essential strategy for scaffolding in the classroom. Prior knowledge refers to what students already know about a topic before learning something new. When teachers activate prior knowledge, they help students make connections between what they already know and what they are learning. By doing so, teachers help students build on their existing knowledge, which makes it easier for them to learn and retain new information.
One way to activate prior knowledge is to use graphic organizers, such as mind maps or concept maps. Graphic organizers help students organize their thoughts and connect new information to what they already know. Another effective strategy is to ask students to brainstorm what they know about a topic and write their ideas on the board. This not only activates prior knowledge but also helps students see what they have in common with their peers.
2. Provide Clear Learning Objectives
Learning objectives are essential for effective scaffolding in the classroom. Learning objectives provide a clear and concise description of what students are expected to learn. When teachers provide clear learning objectives, students have a better understanding of what they need to focus on and can better connect new information to their existing knowledge.
One effective way to provide clear learning objectives is to use “I can” statements. “I can” statements are written from the perspective of the student and describe what the student will be able to do after completing a lesson or activity. For example, “I can identify the main idea of a text” or “I can use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.” Using “I can” statements not only provides clear learning objectives but also helps students take ownership of their learning.
3. Use Modeling and Demonstration
Modeling and demonstration are effective strategies for scaffolding in the classroom. Modeling refers to showing students how to complete a task or solve a problem, while demonstration refers to providing an example of what the final product should look like. By using modeling and demonstration, teachers provide a clear visual representation of what students are expected to do.
One way to use modeling and demonstration is to think aloud. Thinking aloud involves verbalizing the thought process behind solving a problem or completing a task. By doing so, teachers provide a clear demonstration of how to approach a problem or task. Another effective strategy is to use guided practice, where teachers provide support and feedback as students work on a task. Guided practice helps students apply what they have learned and receive immediate feedback on their progress.
4. Provide Feedback and Support
Providing feedback and support is an essential strategy for effective scaffolding in the classroom. Feedback helps students understand what they have done well and what they need to improve on. Support helps students build on their existing knowledge and make connections between new and prior knowledge.
One effective way to provide feedback is to use the “sandwich” method. The sandwich method involves starting with positive feedback, followed by constructive feedback, and ending with positive feedback. For example, “Great job identifying the main idea of the text! One thing to work on is using more specific details to support your ideas. Keep up the good work!” Providing support can be done through guided practice, where teachers provide support and feedback as students work on a task.
5. Encourage Collaboration and Discussion
Encouraging collaboration and discussion is a valuable strategy for scaffolding in the classroom. Collaboration and discussion allow students to learn from each other and build on their existing knowledge. When students work together, they can share their ideas and perspectives, which helps them develop a deeper understanding of the material.
One effective way to encourage collaboration and discussion is to use small group work. Small group work allows students to work together on a task or project, which helps them develop their communication and collaboration skills. Another effective strategy is to use think-pair-share, where students first think about a question or topic, then share their ideas with a partner, and finally share their ideas with the class. Think-pair-share allows students to share their ideas and perspectives with each other, which helps them develop a deeper understanding of the material.
In conclusion, scaffolding is an effective instructional strategy that supports students in mastering new skills and knowledge. Activating prior knowledge, providing clear learning objectives, using modeling and demonstration, providing feedback and support, and encouraging collaboration and discussion are all effective strategies for scaffolding in the classroom. By using these strategies, teachers can help students build on their existing knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the material.