Teaching kids require a lot of patience and support. Parents often find it hard to teach their kids but it’s equally challenging to find the right teaching method that works. Scaffolding is a recommended educational practice and teaching technique leveraged by educators to aid students in building a solid foundation through boosting their ability to retain and apply new knowledge.
But what exactly is scaffolding in teaching? The theory behind it started in the 1930s when Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet psychologist, created a concept called ZPD or “zone of proximal development”. Vygotsky theorised that the right way to test students’ understanding was to analyse their problem-solving skills independently and with the teacher’s help.
The term, “scaffolding,” was based on Vygotsly’s ZPD concept, while Jerome Bruner, Gail Ross, and David Wood came up with the term. It’s a teaching method that educators use to provide their students with the knowledge and skills they need to solve problems without additional support or too much ‘hand holding’. This is first done by the teachers showing the students how to approach and solve a problem. The students then observe and absorb the information before the students are given a chance to solve the problems on their own.
To ensure students perform well academically, scaffolding is often incorporated into a lesson cycle in three key forms. The three types of scaffolding in education include:
To facilitate the connection of ideas, conceptualisation of abstract ideas and better understand how a particular process works, sensory scaffolds are utilised. This involves the utilisation of physical elements and visual aids. Able to overcome issues related to language barriers, this type of scaffold allows the teacher to tap into the fact that most of us are visual learners. Through tactile demonstrations to the class through the use of gestures and images, students can paint the lesson’s entire picture and understand abstract concepts without overt reliance on printed text.
Graphic organisers, anchor charts, and mind maps are normally part of the classroom. They encourage students to recognise trends and patterns and gain knowledge through the analysis of numerical data. Since students are exposed to a lot of information, they may feel overwhelmed and have trouble processing them. Graphics are used in the classroom to aid students in organising and simplifying all the information they are exposed to. To ensure the method and lessons are effective, the teacher guides the students on how to read and understand them.
In scaffolding, collaboration is an essential part of the classroom. Students are encouraged to think, pair, and share. It allows students to participate in a collaborative learning environment with their fellow students and their teachers. Creating an interactive environment for teachers and students is beneficial for both. Teachers can gauge which students need additional help and have them freely express what they know and what they don’t know. Moreover, a collaborative learning space provides more opportunities to learn.
Students greatly benefit from scaffolding in teaching. They are able to hone their problem-solving skills in a fun and informative way as they are given a chance to learn from their teachers based on practical exercises. The engagement between teachers and students allows the latter to start questioning the lessons based on their takeaway. Thus, allowing an educational debate between the educator and the learners. Instead of simply absorbing and saying yes to what the teachers say, students can think for themselves.
Therefore, this teaching method also allows students to become independent, without relying too much on their teachers. Instead, students are given all the necessary tools to achieve better understanding and develop a stronger sense of independence. Scaffolding bridges the gaps between what the students know and what they need to learn.
Another question you might ask is, “What is scaffolding in teaching examples?” You might be surprised at how simple yet effective scaffolding teaching methods are. A simple “show and tell” activity is already an effective way to practice scaffolding. The teacher shows the students how things are done and the students copy and apply what they learned to their own tasks.
Teachers can provide simplified versions of the lessons and eventually increase the difficulty level or the amount of information they teach to their students, depending on their progress. These teaching methods are all about helping the students learn something new and allowing them to apply what they learned independently. Other scaffolding teaching examples are:
Students experience learning by doing when their teacher models and demonstrates how to solve something. The model and demonstration approach can be used for students of all ages. Regardless of their grade level, this practice is effective in showing students the step-by-step process of how to do things.
Connecting new learnings to what the students know is also one of the common examples of scaffolding. Students are presented with a problem and they are asked to review their previous learnings and apply them in order to solve the problem they’re currently dealing with. This practice gives students a chance to connect what they’ve learned to their current lives. Teachers who are able to link past and new lessons together can help students absorb information faster.
Students need to process the information they learn. Hence, educators should give them time to do so through open discussions, especially since structured discussions in groups work well regardless of the student’s age. Encouraging students to talk about what they’ve learned gives them the opportunity to digest the new knowledge and verbalise the ideas and concepts they have understood. This strategy of raising questions and brainstorming ideas about a studied topic facilitates ‘thinking out loud’ and helps students organise all their thoughts and absorb new learnings with ease.
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