This series of three blog posts will progress from establishing a deep understanding of scaffolding to suggesting specific strategies for developing and implementing effective scaffolds in the classroom. In this final blog post of the series, we will look at specific types of scaffolding and how each type can help your students achieve mastery.

Before we move into the implementation of scaffolding techniques during instruction and student practice, let’s look more closely at the various types of scaffolding you can use to meet your students’ needs.

Types of Scaffolding

  • Content scaffolding: Choose familiar or highly interesting content to introduce new learning, gradually transitioning to more challenging applications.
    • Encourage students to self-select texts for independent reading prior to choosing texts from a teacher-prepared list of grade-appropriate, content-specific texts.
      • Visit the library and schedule time for independent reading for enjoyment.
      • Then, provide a selection of informational articles that support a specified reading or writing standard.
    • Direct students to use the writing process to practice skills using familiar topics before tackling challenging content-specific writing assignments.
      • Write a personal narrative before writing an original fiction story.
      • Write an argumentative text about an issue familiar to students before writing an argumentative text about a hot topic for which additional research would be necessary.
  • Task scaffolding: Break processes into smaller steps, utilizing the I do, We do, You do approach to gradual release.
    • Invite students to correct your thinking as you model a specified step (before reading, during reading, after reading) in the reading process.
      • Draw an unfounded conclusion as you Think Aloud while previewing print and graphic features of an informational text before reading.
      • Ask students to identify specific text evidence as they explain why your conclusion is unfounded.
      • Encourage students to correct your thinking by suggesting a different conclusion and supporting it with evidence from the text.
    • Model the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, publishing) by isolating each step.
      • Use the Think Aloud strategy to plan for writing in response to an initial writing prompt.
      • Then, guide students to use various planning strategies, such as discussion, background reading, and personal interests, to plan for writing in response to a second prompt.
      • Next, allow students to work in small groups to plan for a third prompt.
      • To conclude the lesson, release students to plan independently for a final prompt, using the strategies you’ve modeled.
  • Material scaffolding: Provide print or digital supports to help students master skills.
    • Demonstrate the use of print or digital graphic organizers for listening, speaking, reading, or writing.
      • Design a graphic organizer for planning a three-paragraph essay. Show students how it can be used to support the identification of theses, central ideas, and supporting details when readinginformational texts.
      • Use the same graphic organizer to model its use as a planning tool for writing informational texts. Demonstrate for students how to use the same graphic organizer to plan argumentative texts.
      • Direct small groups of students to use the graphic organizer to plan an argumentative text.

During Instruction

The need for scaffolding doesn’t end with the development of a lesson plan that incorporates scaffolding techniques. It is important to monitor student engagement and tailor scaffolds as necessary during instruction, as well.

Examples of on-demand scaffolding techniques include:

  • Further breaking concepts into smaller chunks or simpler processes
  • Giving multiple examples in a variety of modes, such as providing an oral explanation, sharing an instructional video, displaying and demonstrating the use of a graphic organizer, or providing manipulatives
  • Using the Think Aloud method while facilitating the I do, We do, You do approach to skill building

During Student Practice

Now that you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of scaffolding and how those fundamentals can inform your thinking when planning and delivering instruction, you’re ready to incorporate the scaffolds you’ve created during lesson planning into your students’ practice toward skill mastery.

The goal of educational scaffolding is academic independence. The thoughtful implementation and gradual removal of carefully designed scaffolds will help you reach that goal.