Scaffolding a lesson is like a layered cake. Each layer is built on the other. Any weak layers will cause the cake to fail. When designing lessons to reach ALL learners, look for gaps in understanding and build a strong lesson in layers for learner success. Here are five ideas to get you started…
Scaffolding Tips for Instruction
Scaffolding lessons for learner success is a teaching technique aiming to reduce learner stress and encourage improved self-efficacy. Scaffolding strategies move the learner from simplistic skills and ideas to more complex applications and challenging problems. Begin plans for scaffolding by visualizing gaps in the learner’s abilities. These gaps will inform the instructional designer of the needs for support within the lesson. For instance, when working with a struggling reader, pre-teach needed vocabulary and build background knowledge to frame the lesson for the learner. These supports free the learner to focus on the content and concepts instead of unfamiliar words. This also helps clarify multiple meanings for words as usage is defined by learning context and prior knowledge.
Another solid scaffolding strategy is to outline expectations, or goals, for the learner. Provide steps for success using an advanced organizer. This way the learner is encourage to hang in through the tough stuff as the path to the learning goal is clearly laid out. Rubrics are great for illustrating learning goals.
Some instructors offer support by chunking the material. Start with the basic, simplistic skills and build on proficiency towards complex applications of knowledge. Many Instructional designers like to start at the final objective and build the lesson backwards, breaking down each needed step into simplicity.
Engage the learner in multimodalities to ensure all methods for learning are covered. For example, provide visuals and oral instructions to engage both auditory and visual learners. Have students read, write, or draw to encourage cognitive processing.
Lastly, a great scaffolding strategy is to provide a model or example of high quality work. This modeling illustrates for the learner what success looks like.