What is Scaffolding in Education?
As a teacher, there are many strategies that you can use in the classroom to help your students learn new skills and concepts. As students don’t always learn the same as each other. There need to be more ways you can teach them. To develop practices that help students understand and interact with new information. One of these practices is Scaffolding. This technique helps learners adapt to learning new information.
What is Scaffolding?
It’s a technique that can offer a particular kind of support to students as they learn and develop new skills. In the instructional scaffolding model, a teacher would share information or demonstrate solving a problem. Then the teacher would gradually step back and let the learners practice on their own. As well as singular practice, it can also involve group practice.
Scaffolding is all about breaking up new information and making it smaller so the learner can understand the concepts better. By using this technique teachers can improve the likelihood that their students will grasp the new materials, and retain what they’ve learned.
It should be planned carefully to develop learners’ capability and to achieve a defined goal or set of goals. To be able to undertake more complex problems in the future. It is a four-stage process and like any teaching technique, needs to be in a supported learning environment. As a teacher, you need to assess what students already know, additionally, the teacher can consider the learning objectives and what they need to know. Finally, they can make a plan to advance the student’s knowledge.
So what are the stages? They are:
- Stage 1- Estimate foundation knowledge,
- Stage 2- Introduce a new task,
- Stage 3- Provide the appropriate scaffolds,
- Stage 4- Demonstrate mastery of new knowledge.
Each stage is important to complete for the process to work effectively. What kind of strategies can you use?
This is considered one of the best ways to teach because your students can learn by example. As a teacher, you can solve a problem out loud by walking your learners through the steps it took you to get to the answer. Or you can talk to your learners through the process. It’s a great way to break down the steps so it’s easier for your learner to go from each process to the correct answer.
Use prior knowledge
Learners, especially adult learners, come to the classroom with knowledge of and experience in many different topics. They aren’t blank slates. Teachers who connect what they’re teaching to any prior life experiences will help students integrate new information quickly. This is part of the adult learning theory. Adults want to know why they’re learning something and how it will have a real-world effect on them when they use it. Students understand and take in the information better when they can connect it to something they already know or they know why they’re going to be learning it.
Give time to talk
Many students need time to reflect and learn upon what they’ve just learned. It can be very beneficial to give them opportunities to absorb and talk through what they’ve just seen before they can apply it to their own work. Sometimes you can facilitate reflection by putting your learners into small groups or pairs. So they can talk to each other and bounce ideas off of each other. They may have different ways of thinking, which can help one another. Ask them to share their opinions and ideas about what they have just learned and see what their thoughts are.
An activity you can use that is very popular, is think-pair-share. This is a technique where the learners think about what they’ve just done. They pair up with another learner in class and discuss the topic at hand, finally, they come back to the whole class and discuss the key details that they discussed within the time. Techniques like this are really helpful with adult learners as they need to know why they’re learning it. Adult learners need to know the reason why it’s important in their own practice, and pairing up with another learner is a great way to do that.
Another activity that’s useful, is Socratic seminars. This is another great tool that will work well with older or maturer learners. Where learners do a close read of a text and are given time to prepare their ideas and concepts about what they’ve read. After that, they respond to open-ended questions about the text. It’s not to debate the text but to have an open discussion as well as to understand deeper about their ideas and concepts.
Share important vocabulary
This is quite an important strategy. As with prior knowledge, some of your learners may already know a lot of the vocab that’s used. However, not all of them will! Many students, even mature students don’t want to be reading a text with a load of words they don’t understand or can’t read. They’ll start to switch off, and that’s not what you want. Pre-teaching vocabulary is extremely important as it’ll help your learners out in the long run.
Having a list of important words and their definition can be really helpful to learners who may also have an additional need. If they have dyslexia or have English as a second language they’ll need to know the words if they don’t and they have the resource there to go back to when they need them.
We’re big fans of utilising technology here at Brooks and Kirk. It can be a really great thing! With the pandemic happening and everything going online, teachers had to start to use it. As a teacher, you can utilise technology in multiple ways. You could create playlists of required watching that may be helpful to your learners. Or videos that they may want to watch before the lesson, allowing them to preview any material and be ready to engage with the content you’ll discuss. You could also provide links to websites that are helpful or have different ways to engage with the content. Such as videos, games, articles or demonstrations.
Pause, ask questions, think, review
Certain techniques like this are a great way to check for understanding while students read a large chunk of text that may be difficult, or learn a new concept. Here’s how it works. Share a new idea or concept from the discussion or the text, pause, ask a strategic question (mainly open-ended), and pause again for thinking time. With this strategy you will need to design questions ahead of time making sure they’re specific, guiding and again open-ended.
Keep learners engaged as active listeners by calling on someone to give an idea of what may have been discussed, discovered or questioned. Provide an opportunity for them to work in small groups to discuss what has been taught.
As there is a multitude of ways you can teach, it’s about finding what is right for your learners. They’re not going to learn the same way. Teaching isn’t a one size fits all way. There will be trial and error, but take time to learn about your students and fit the ways that they learn best in your teaching! If you have any questions about teaching or tutoring then please get in touch with us on 01205 805 155. We are always happy to help!