A scaffold is:
• A temporary platform, either supported
from below or suspended from above, on
which workers sit or stand when
performing tasks at heights above the
the context provided by knowledgeable
people such as adults to help children to
develop their cognitive skills.
An important aspect of scaffolding is that
there is a gradual withdrawal of support as
the child’s knowledge and confidence
Without Scaffolding in a traditional
• Typical teaching: teacher tells and the student
listens, then the student tells (or regurgitates
information on a written test) and the teacher
• The knowledge is declarative, decontextualised,
and inert (think of a classroom dominated by
lecture). Knowledge is not personally
constructed nor applied.
Without scaffolding:
With Scaffolding:
Teachers model strategies and knowledgemaking in the context of task completion,
and then students attempt to do the task
the way the teacher did it.
• The learning here is directed by a teacher who
models appropriate strategies for meeting
particular purposes, guides students in their use
of the strategies, and provides a meaningful and
relevant context for using the strategies.
• Support, in the form of explicit teaching, occurs
over time until students master the new
strategies, and know how and when to use
Buildings meant to last and stand
on their own!
I do
You Watch
I do
You Help
You Do
I Help
You Do
I Watch
What does scaffolding do?
• Provides clear direction and reduces students’
• Clarifies purpose
• Keeps students on task –
• Clarifies expectations and incorporates
assessment and feedback
• Points students to worthy sources
• Reduces uncertainty, surprise, and
• Delivers efficiency
• Creates momentum
How do we teachers
• Motivate or enlist the child’s interest related to
the task
• Simplify the task to make it more manageable
and achievable for a child
• Provide some direction in order to help the
child focus on achieving the goal
• Clearly indicate differences between the
child’s work and the standard or desired solution
• Reduce frustration and risk
• Model and clearly define the expectations of
the activity to be performed
Other ways we scaffold:
• Offering Explanations
• Inviting Student Participation
• Verifying and Clarifying Student
• Modeling Desired Behaviours
• Inviting Students to Contribute Clues
• Working with peers who may be helpful
Practical Scaffolds
partial solutions,
think-aloud modeling
direct instruction,
external representations – graphs, tables,
building upon questions
The Levels of Scaffolding
Level 0: Provides no assistance,
Level 1: Offers a general verbal
Level 2: Gives specific verbal instruction,
Level 3: Assists in choosing materials,
Level 4: Prepares materials for use,
Level 5: Demonstrates use or operation
Scaffolding Examples from
Expository Writing Lesson
A Scaffolding Example: Teaching about
writing an expository paragraph, grade
9 Applied:
• Motivational Introduction as Scaffold:
• Mini-lecture with overheads and graphics:
• Leading questions as scaffold:
Scaffolds for Expository
Writing Lesson
Examples as Scaffold:
Handout as Scaffold:
Group Work as Scaffolds:
Posters are posted around the room as
future scaffolds to writing.
• Writing an expository piece: Culminating
Activity: A brainstorming "Thought Web"
and a “Think Aloud”
• Teacher Conference and Writing Process
What scaffolding is happening in
this cartoon?
What does scaffolding require?
• Knowledge of each student and
student’s ability
• Not taking learning for granted
Learning to Swim: Is this where we
What is the scaffolding in this
What is the scaffolding in this
More scaffolding
Demonstration as scaffold
More scaffolding
Physical Layout provides
Too many scaffolds?
Scaffolding withdrawn:
On to the next challenge!
Welcome to:
Queen’s “Save Your Life” Teaching Program
Have you ever taught swimming?
• Who? Your students are not swimmers.
They are 4-6 years of age, and have never
swum. Many are afraid of the water. Few
have been in water without their parents.
However, some are comfortable in water
and even may enter water independently.
Many cannot float. Some are hysterical.
All are cold.
• What? Your course: To achieve the
Tadpole badge in life-saving and
swimming, the children must be able to
swim to the opposite width of the pool
• (To achieve the Minnow badge, children
must swim across the pool, in the deep
end, independently. But that’s another
• Where? Your classroom: the pool,
equipped with these resources: floaties,
tables, water toys, flutter boards, anything
that money can buy to teach kids to swim
• Why? (end or goal) Overarching or
General Expectation:
• By the end of this course, and to achieve
the Tadpole badge, the child will swim
across the pool independently and
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