Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Scaffolding, Scaffolding, Scaffolding--THE Key to Student Success For Both ELLs and English Only Students.

With implementation of common core, the pressure is on for both teachers and students to raise academic performance across the country.  Technology via apps, cell phones, tablets, and laptops will not be the magic pills in making instruction comprehensible to struggling students.  Instead teachers need to pull from those tried and true simple hands-on tools that don't break the budget, but rather break down the barriers to the acquisition of knowledge.

Scaffolding takes on many different forms from classroom to classroom.  The imagination of the teacher provides for an infinite variety of approaches at all grade levels and in all content areas in this area.   In 6 scaffolding techniques,  Edutopia provides 6 very popular categories here that can be included into any lesson with a little careful planning.

One technique is think-aloud where the teacher shares her/his thoughts on say how to solve a problem.  With this approach, the teacher "opens her/his mind and shares what s/he is thinking."  Using this approach, students are given a clear picture of what will be expected of them.  I use it when teaching difficult topics in journal writing.  We write as a team as I think aloud (taking suggestions from them).  Using this technique, weaker students find the writing process a little less intimidating.

Then there is tapping into prior knowledge.  Find out what they know first through discussion, concept maps, games, whiteboards, etc.  By doing this, time is not wasted on teaching a lesson in which few students follow along.  Tapping into prior knowledge lays the groundwork for a lesson that will leave no student behind.

One must also give students time to talk with partners on key concepts.  Of course, this talking is timed and focused with accountability demonstrated by random call-ons thereby holding all students accountable.  Sharing thoughts with a partner (chosen by teacher) lowers anxiety for the struggling students.  This way there is no embarrassment if that student is called on in class since s/he has had time to prepare an answer.

The use of visuals is a must for academically weaker students to make those crucial connections to content.  Finding clear vivid visuals makes all the difference in student success.  I use PINTEREST to find many of mine (along with bookmarks to those sites).  My boards are all around academic subject areas (denise@ellteacherpros.com---now over 1,000 followers).  I pull from these sources regularly to find just the right images which will support my lessons.

Also, one should never forget one's colleagues.  They are a treasure trove of ideas and would be more than willing to share if asked.



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