Scaffolding is great for precise individual and group instruction. It is an amazing instructional methodology for teachers to implement in their practice. Below, I have summarized the steps to scaffold.

  1. Excavating – Teacher systemically questions to discover what students know
  2. Modelling – Teacher models what to do and/or how to do it.
  3. Collaborating – Teacher works interactively with students on a tasks to achieve a solution. Teacher contributes ideas, responds to suggestions and invites comments.
  4. Guiding – Teacher observes, listens and monitors students as they work, asks questions designed to help better understand the material & make connections.
  5. Convince Me – Teacher actively seeks evidence, encourages students to be more precise & specific. A teacher continues to encourage students to explain & provide data/explanation for their response.
  6. Focusing – Teacher focuses on specific concept/skill/strategy that students need to improve.
  7. Probing – Teacher evaluates students understanding using specific question/task designed to elicit a range of strategies and presses for clarification.
  8. Orienting – Teacher establishes context by invoking relevant prior knowledge and experience.
  9. Reviewing – Teacher recounts of what was learnt, share ideas and strategies. This typically occurs at the end of the lesson; key ideas are articulated and recorded.
  10. Extending – Teacher uses open-ended questions to explore; extent student’s understanding & provide context for further learning.
  11. Apprenticing – Teacher offers students opportunity to operate in a student-as-teacher capacity.

Balanced Literacy Environment

  1. Read aloud
    • Provide students the experience to engage with the text
    • Cultivates high-level thinking and discussions
    • Use inquiry questions to simulate thinking
  2. Shared reading
    • Students are reading common text with teacher support and intervention
    • Text is re-read over a course of time to teach different literacy strategies
    • Comprehension and fluency are key goals in this component
  3. Guided Reading
    • Small-group differentiated instruction designed to assist individual students learn how to process text
    • Group students’ at similar level to teach literacy strategies and skills
  4. Mini-lessons
    • Teach various strategies and skills
    • Direct and explicit instruction
    • Connection to other texts, to self and to the world
    • Active engagement with the text
  5. Independent reading
    • Students are reading a book at their level
    • Students are practicing and reinforcing reading strategies taught during mini-lessons
  6. Word Study
    • Develop phonological awareness by having students engage in learning activities to help them hear rhymes, syllables and onset/rimes
    • Increase phonics skills by teaching students patterns and decoding skills
    • Build students’ word and structural analysis skills by developing learning activities to allow students to engage with parts of words (prefixes, suffixes, root words, etc.), to decode words and understand meaning
  7. Writing
    • Increase writing skills by teaching proper grammar, writing mechanics and sentence flow
    • Cultivate writing process by teaching students to communicate ideas, messages and stories.
    • Engage with different genres of writing
  8. Conferring
    • Teacher meets with students individually in order to discuss certain needs and progress of students
    • Teacher will review a skill or strategy from previous meeting or et a new goal with the student

What Doesn’t Work: Literacy Practices We Should Abandon

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It is the teacher’s responsibility to provide students with authentic learning experiences which help cultivate their cognitive abilities. Here are a few literacy practices that teachers should abandon or redesign:

  1. Looking up vocabulary words in a dictionary. Teachers should use selected vocabulary activities or can integrate vocabulary activities. For example using dramatization, antonyms, synonyms, illustrations, root analysis, semantic webs or concept cube. 
  2. Giving prizes for reading. This technique may indirectly deter students from reading in the future. More effective techniques or strategies are shared reading, students have a ‘special place’ to read, guided reading, interacting with literature with peers and many more strategies to foster life-long reading. 
  3. Weekly spelling tests. Research suggests that weekly class spelling tests are less effective than students focusing on analyzing and using words.
  4. Unsupported independent reading. Research is showing this is not an effective strategy to improve reading achievement. Independent reading should involve instruction from the teacher on text selection and reading strategies. Also, there must be opportunity to give students feedback on their reading, discussing texts, and other reading response activities.
  5. Take away recess or an activity as punishment. Ample research has indicated the link between physical activity and academic learning. Exercise is great for the brain! 

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