Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daily Assignment #101: Scaffolding Learning

In the 1970s Jerome Bruner, a cognitive psychologist, coined the phrase Scaffolding Learning, which means ways in which a learner can be supported in acquiring new knowledge, achieving a new task or developing a new skill. 

Teacher support varies, depending on the needs of the students.  Support may also increase or decrease in level of intensity depending on the needs of the students.

Possible support strategies may include:
  • Verbal or written prompts which remind students of key information.
  • Assisting when learning a new motor skill
  • Study guides
  • Using mnemonics to help in remembering multiple steps
  • Constructive feedback
  • Working with a partner/group
  • Using technology
  • Diagrams/graphic organizers

Example:  Teacher:  What color is the sky?
                    Student:             Blue.
                    Teacher:   What else is blue?   Can you see something blue?
                    Student:             I can see a blue...
The teacher in this interaction is scaffolding the student's learning about color.

Example: Emergent Writers
  1. Teacher scribes student's words
  2. Teacher and student work together 
  3. Student works at the writing process independently.

Example:  Teaching Graphic Organizers
  1. Teacher selects G.O., fills in Main Idea and subordinate ideas, students observe.
  2. Teacher selects G.O., students fill in Main Idea, students and teacher fill in subordinate ideas.
  3. Teacher selects G.O. students fill in Main Idea and subordinate ideas
  4. Student selects G.O., fills in Main Idea and subordinate ideas.
In the 2nd and 3rd example the teacher gives direct instruction, prompts, specific feedback, encouragement, then turns the responsibility of learning over to the student and finally the teacher becomes an observer.

If possible, a teacher should try to plan in advance the type of scaffolding students will need when introducing new knowledge or skills. Scaffolding is temporary.  The teacher, as in the examples above, slowly withdraws the support as the student becomes more proficient in their learning.  As Vygotsky's said, "What the child is able to do in collaboration today he will be able to do independently tomorrow."

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Best Effort,

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