Scaffolding in Teaching: Tips & Strategies

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  • 0:00 Scaffolding in Teaching
  • 1:08 Scaffolding Strategies
  • 3:15 Scaffolding Tips
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrew Diamond

Andrew has worked as an instructional designer and adjunct instructor. He has a doctorate in higher education and a master's degree in educational psychology.

In this lesson we'll cover some strategies and tips involved in scaffolding your students' learning. Scaffolding is defined, as is its supporting theory, and a short quiz follows.

Scaffolding in Teaching

Put on your hardhats ladies and gentlemen; we're about to build something. What are we building? Knowledge, of course! Today we're going to cover some basic tips and strategies you can use in the classroom to support your students as they learn challenging subject matter.

The idea of scaffolding, or providing assistance to students as they work on material outside of their comfort zone, has been around since the 1960s. The idea stems from work done in the early 1900s by Lev Vygotsky, a noted Russian psychologist. Vygotsky proposed that learning occurs best in an area he called the zone of proximal development, which is the area between what learners can do unaided and what they cannot do. For example, young students are capable of spelling simple three- and four-letter words by themselves; however, they cannot spell longer more complicated words. The zone for their proximal development might be spelling simple five-letter words that build on the four-letter words they already know. The teacher (that's you, remember!) supports this activity by providing scaffolding.

Scaffolding Strategies

There are many strategies that can be employed in scaffolding, and some work better for some subjects, students, or teachers. All teachers need a little time to find their rhythm and figure out what they like. Here are a few strategies which have been successful for me in the past.

Prior Knowledge: This is many teachers' favorite way to support student learning. If you can connect a lesson to what students already know, it will help them understand in a big, big way. Many teachers have had huge success in working with students who are having a hard time understanding fractions by utilizing money. A lot of children think they can't understand the concept until they realize they already know the basics!

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