Instructional scaffolding is an essential part of teaching literacy. But what is scaffolding exactly? What does it look like in a classroom, and how can we improve the ways we use it? Despite its prominence in the repertoire of teaching strategies, scaffolding remains a vague concept for many teachers.
In essence, scaffolding is the support of students as they build independence. In The Construction Zone, Terry Thompson identifies four critical processes to deepen your understanding and improve your practice of instructional scaffolding:
- Finding and maintaining a specific focus.
- Practising flexibility in planning and delivering instruction.
- Giving constructive feedback in response to student efforts.
- Monitoring to ensure that, in every moment, students are working at optimal levels of responsibility.
Thompson encourages teachers to enhance their use of the traditional gradual release process through five actionable steps: shows, share, support, sustain and survey, and in doing so provides procedures and techniques to help them establish and maintain strong scaffolds throughout the instructional day. The Construction Zone is written from the teacher’s perspective. Thompson urges educators to fully embrace their role in the scaffolding process while staying mindful of the effect it has on students.