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Scaffolding Instruction Strategies

Techniques to Scaffold Learning in the Elementary Classroom

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Scaffolding Instruction describes specialized teaching strategies geared to support learning when students are first introduced to a new subject. Scaffolding gives students a context, motivation, or foundation from which to understand the new information that will be introduced during the coming lesson.

Scaffolding techniques should be considered fundamental to good, solid teaching for all students, not just those with learning disabilities or second language learners. In order for learning to progress, scaffolds should be gradually removed as instruction continues, so that students will eventually be able to demonstrate comprehension independently.

Scaffolding instruction includes a wide variety of strategies, including:

  • activating prior knowledge
  • offering a motivational context to pique student interest or curiosity in the subject at hand
  • breaking a complex task into easier, more "doable" steps to facilitate student achievement
  • showing students an example of the desired outcome before they complete the task
  • modeling the thought process for students through "think aloud" talk
  • offering hints or partial solutions to problems
  • using verbal cues to prompt student answers
  • teaching students chants or mnemonic devices to ease memorization of key facts or procedures
  • facilitating student engagement and participation
  • displaying a historical timeline to offer a context for learning
  • using graphic organizers to offer a visual framework for assimilating new information
  • teaching key vocabulary terms before reading
  • guiding the students in making predictions for what they expect will occur in a story, experiment, or other course of action
  • asking questions while reading to encourage deeper investigation of concepts
  • suggesting possible strategies for the students to use during independent practice
  • modeling an activity for the students before they are asked to complete the same or similar activity
  • asking students to contribute their own experiences that relate to the subject at hand
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