The following is an outline of the ideas and activities covered in my webinar on scaffolding at primary for Pearson Spain and Portugal on 20 February 2018.
Teaching primary learners can be rewarding and sometimes challenging. The enthusiasm and energy can be extremely satisfying and help keep us engaged as educators. To be successful, we often hear about providing support to help our students achieve success. Support can cover a variety of different aspects of our learners’ social and emotional development, their cognitive learning and their language needs. Unlike adults, who have experience we can draw on to create connections and foster learning, when we work with our primary and secondary students, we are often responsible for introducing students to new information for the first time. When this happens, the support that works best for success is referred to as scaffolding. Scaffolding helps us present new ideas and concepts while making sure learners have the tools they need to be successful.
That said, what is scaffolding and what does it really mean? When you think about how you first learned to do something you can get a sense of what scaffolding is all about.
You sit down at your desk to begin planning your course for the year. You have a good idea about what your students can do and how much they have currently achieved. As you begin to look through the course outcomes and expectations, you may feel a bit worried, possibly even concerned. Flipping through the course book you stop on a few pages and think to yourself “This is going to be very challenging for my students.”
It’s an experience many teachers have and how teachers address the experience can have an enormous impact on students learning. In teaching, our goal is to challenge our students. This helps students make progress, keep learners engaged, and can provide motivation through tangible success in the learning journey. However, when we can anticipate that content will be very challenging, it’s tempting to skip past it, or move on to something a bit easier as a way to create a safe and comfortable learning environment for the learners. In fact, when you see very challenging content coming up in your program, this is the perfect time to dig in and think about how you can scaffold difficult content in a way that will ensure learner success.