Scaffolding in the Classroom: Reading and Literacy

What Is Scaffolding?

Scaffolding is a method that involves changing the levels of support for learning. A teacher or a more advanced student adjusts the

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amount of guidance that a student receives, and this helps fit the student’s existing performance level. This idea comes from Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development. The Zone of Proximal Development is the array of tasks which are too complex to master alone but they can be performed and mastered with assistance from adults and /or more advanced students.

When the task at hand is new the adult or more skilled peer may use direct instruction with the student. As the student learns to master the task less guidance is then needed. I have noticed many opportunities to use scaffolding in the classroom when teaching reading and literacy development in the classroom.

Implementing Scaffolding

Some strategies for teaching reading are:

  • The teacher takes what the student knows already then helps the student incorporate this material into the new material being learned.
  • The teacher can also use what is correct in the student’s response to help them get the whole answer. For instance: The teacher asks what the word C-A-T spells. The student responds with “COT”.Teacher would say, “Great effort, you got more than half correct. We have the C and T sounds down; now let us work on the A!”

Scaffolding can also be used to help English Language Learners:

  • With the help of a triadic scaffolding process, educators can use three concepts to help the student master his or her goal. These three concepts are teacher verbal strategy, contribution of the computer, and what the strategy accomplishes.

Scaffolding allows students not only to stay involved within the classroom, but also allows the students to keep up with their peers. If peer scaffolding is involved it also offers a new level of communication between students.