Scaffolding Lessons

Best Methods for Helping Students Move Step-by-Step from Dependence on a Teacher to Independent Subject Mastery

A kep part of the differentiated instruction concept is what we call "Scaffolding."  This involves the cration of exercises and assignments that help students when they are learning a new subject.  It means that when you tell students what they need to do, you provide support and do not simply leave the students hanging without guidance.  This is especially crucial when students are learning something new and may be more tentative in their steps.

Scaffolding is essentially the support the teacher provides.  It is a metaphos suggestive of the supports added to physical structures that assist during the building phases.  Scaffolding assumes that all students start off at various levels of need, but all students (when learning a nw subject) need some level of scaffolding from the beginning.  We can adopt successful techniques for taking students along a path from that starting point (with little or no subject knowldge) all the way to mastery.  Along the way, the teacher is there to offer support.

The support level (amount of scaffolding) shifts over time.  In the beginning, for example, the teacher must offer far greater support to assure the students engages through the more difficult effort without failing.  Over time, the teacher must help the student move towards independence.  In other words, the scaffolding gradually comes down, until the student stands on his or her own, independent and confident.

Knowing how much scaffolding to provide, when to offer it, how to offer it, and when to remove it, are the crucial questions.

An educational consultant can help detrmine the correct level of scaffolding needed for each group of students, and for each subject.  The consultant can also help develop the gradual decline of scaffolding that is best for the subject and the specific population.

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