Scaffolding (Part 2)

Welcome back everyone! In September’s blog post I ended at the formative assessment stage, where the teacher could determine if the student’s had hit the first part of the lesson objective, which was “Students will know the structure of recount texts and will be able to create their own recount text.”

Before moving on to the next part of the lesson, I want to talk about what you should do if you discover during a formative assessment that the students didn’t actually understand whatever it is you are trying to teach. Do you just keep pressing on? Do you repeat the lesson? What about the students that did grasp the concept?

First of all, it’s important to note that teaching is very much a case-by-case situation. Depending on your school, your co-teacher, your curriculum, or a variety of other factors, you might have to change what you would do from one situation to another. However, that being said, the whole point of scaffolding is to give the students the tools they need in the most effective way possible so that they can achieve the objectives. If you’ve given them a tool and they’re not able to use it, then it makes sense to reteach it, right? It’s even more important if it’s a necessary tool for the next stage. That’s why, for this lesson, I think if the teacher were to notice that most of the students didn’t have a grasp of the structure, they should probably go over it again. Obviously, you shouldn’t do it in the same exact way as it was presented before- which means that a really good teacher always has back-up activities/explanations. However, if only one or two students struggled, then it would probably be fine to move onto the next part, get the students started, and then help those few students individually when there’s time.

Okay, so now that that’s out of the way, back to the lesson! Remember, we’re moving onto the next part of the objective, which is that the students will be able to create a recount text. However, again, we don’t just say, “Okay, now that you know the structure, write one.” No, as Janika did, we should split it up into its basic components.

The students are first asked to interview someone about their pretend vacation. They’re given example sentences and times, and even shown an example of what the finished product should look like. While the students are doing this activity would be the perfect time to reteach/aid those students that you noticed didn’t understand the lesson during the formative assessment. This also gives you the opportunity to check the students’ sentences and edit them as necessary before hitting the last step.

Finally, they are ready to hit the last objective. The last activity is to actually create the recount text. They’re given an example (note that it’s the extension of the previous example) and asked to write their own recount text.

And that’s it! In Janika’s lesson plan, after the students create their recount text, one partner reads it out loud and the other partner acts it out, but you could adapt that depending on how much time you have and what skills (speaking, reading, writing, or listening) you’re focusing on. The original lesson had an estimated time of 90 minutes for everything- which may seem like a lot, but when you consider all the skills the students need in order to successfully complete the final task and how many smaller steps it takes to get there, is really warranted.

To summarize: Scaffolding is the act of breaking down a concept into its building blocks and skills, teaching the students about the building blocks and skills first, and then teaching the students how to put the building (concept) together. In my opinion, the key to good scaffolding is patience. It takes some time to figure out what chunks of information and skills the students need to fulfill an objective, and even more time to teach those one by one. However, it is the difference between all the students being able to reach the objective, or only those who happen to catch on quickly.

I hope this blog post helps any of you out there who are struggling to understand scaffolding! If you have any examples of how you’ve used scaffolding in your classroom, feel free to share in the comments.

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