Teachers build towards the independence of their students. And they do this by systematically adding to what students already know to gain confidence as they go along and competence with what they are learning.

The main way they do this is by tackling the subject in small manageable chunks first, and under guidance from a skilled instructor, they are supported to make connections for themselves as they work through the issue. Thus, it is more of a facilitator model than with traditional working model.

Vygotsky first coined the concept of scaffolding in learning and teaching in 1978 in his investigations of child learning and pedagogy.

Why is scaffolding learning important?

Scaffolding learning is important because it creates an environment where students are encouraged to be more independent and not constantly look to the teacher for answers and instruction.

Effective and appropriate scaffolding of learning ensures that students have some safety net to work with but can still work through the different stages themselves.

How do you do effective scaffolding for learning?

For scaffolding of learning to be truly impactful, teachers must know their students’ zone of proximal development. This term describes the distance between what the students already know and what they have yet to learn.

To make learning accessible to students, you must make sure that you pitch the work at the right level. It must be difficult enough that it provides a challenge to all the students in the room, but it must still be accessible to the students to find a starting point with the work in which they feel confident.

How do you implement scaffolding of learning in the classroom?

One way of scaffolding learning is by starting with some modeling. Show your students what they are aiming for first. Share with them the intended outcome of the project or work.

For example, this could be achieved by showing students a complete model of a bridge that you want students to replicate, or it could involve sharing a full story with the students.

Another way to implement scaffolding of learning is to use a thinking-aloud process. For example, while you share the model with the students in your class, a teacher can share their thought processes as they complete each stage. This would work particularly well with solving a maths problem or if you are designing a project.

Essential to successful scaffolding is involving the students by tapping into their prior knowledge. Encourage them to discuss their experiences and ideas about what you are studying. Sometimes they will be able to make connections themselves between the different stages.

How do you use scaffolding in literature analysis?

Using scaffolding in literature analysis is a highly effective way of getting children to engage with the texts they’re reading. Literary analysis lends itself to a scaffolding approach because the aim of scaffolding in teaching is for students to learn more independently. Furthermore, as literary analysis is so personal to the reader, it helps if children have a framework to make them feel more secure, especially when they’re just starting to analyze literature. In addition, scaffolding enables them to conclude the text, giving them the confidence to present their original ideas.

So, how can teachers use scaffolding when teaching literature analysis?

Explain what literary analysis is

As its name suggests, scaffolding needs to be a framework for children to build their learning. This is why it’s worth starting at the beginning. First, explain to your class what literary analysis is, its objectives, and how it works. This enables children to know what they’re doing and why. It also helps keep everyone on the same page in their method, although they’ll hopefully feel assured enough to conclude.

Make the text relatable

When analyzing literature, one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is identifying the text’s themes and how they relate to people’s lives. This can be difficult for younger learners, particularly if you’re studying a text set in the past. However, a scaffolding approach encourages children to share their prior knowledge, discussing how the characters’ situations might be similar to their own life experiences in some way. This helps your students build a picture of the text’s key themes and makes it relatable.

Use visual resources

Children learn in many different ways, and many are visual learners. Visual teaching resources will help keep your students more engaged with the text. You could let your class watch a film adaptation of the text, for example, to bring it to life for them. Alternatively, you could display posters of the characters and settings in the classroom or show your learners a PowerPoint presentation about the text. These resources will help children build a visual picture of the literature they’re studying, enabling them to understand the themes and subtext.

Encourage detective work

Good literary analysis always includes citations and quotes from the text to support the student’s argument. However, many children forget to include this core evidence; if they have it, they don’t explain how it strengthens their point of view. You can ensure they remember to do these things by encouraging detective work at the beginning of the lesson, reminding them to pick up on clues as they read, and writing them down, so they don’t forget to include them in their literary analysis.

Use different types of text

Children need to feel confident analyzing different types of literature. Therefore, if you’re using scaffolding in your literature analysis teaching, giving them varied source material to work with is important. As well as novels, include poetry, factual texts, play and film scripts, and even advertising texts in your lessons to ensure children can understand their meaning. This approach will help your students to analyze every type of literature they come across.

How do you scaffold children’s creative work?

Visual aids are another useful tool for scaffolding children’s creative work. Pictures and charts can help children to understand what they are doing. This can be useful as it helps prompt students to make connections for themselves. Visual materials will be especially effective when helping students with creative work such as art or technology.

You can also help students plan a longer creative writing work through scaffolding. One technique for this would be the Pause, Ask Questions, Pause, Review method. This starts with the teacher sharing the discussion topic. Then everyone is allowed a pause for thinking time. Next, the teacher asks a strategic question. And finally, there is another pause.

It is important during the quiet stages to hold out even when the silence becomes uncomfortable so that everyone is given time and space to do some real thinking.

Why is scaffolding learning important in early childhood?

Scaffolding learning represents a more student-centered learning practice than other traditional teacher-focused methods.

The main goal is that, eventually, these scaffolds can be completely removed so that the children can complete the tasks or projects entirely independently.

This is particularly important in early childhood because it teaches children to solve problems for themselves early and to build personal resilience.

The three elements

There are three essential elements of scaffolding learning. The first is that the communication and interaction between the student and teacher should be collaborative. What does this mean? Essentially, it means there should be input from both sides. In practice, this means that students should be asked to share their ideas and their own experience as they engage in the task.

The second feature of effective scaffolding is that the work is built around the student’s zone of proximal development, as discussed above.

And the third feature is that the guidance set in place by the teacher is removed gradually over time in recognition of the students’ growing competence in the subject.

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