IMG_5320When it was time to paint my house, I had to recruit skilled laborers (i.e, my dad and brother-in-law) and borrow a bunch of ladders in order to get the job done. This scaffolding is not only for home improvement though – skilled teachers and instruction that builds ladders is crucial.

In this chapter, I discuss the importance of scaffolding skills necessary for success. One way to model, or scaffold these skills is to create a Literacy Trekker. I provided the Literacy Trekker on The Outsiders, but the same template can be used from kindergarten to college, with increasing complexity.

Scaffolding writing is also important when students first learn to write. As they grow comfortable with the provided template, they can begin to break rules of form, but they must first understand the rules they are breaking. An example of this is the Assignment Organization for the Early Explorer Persuasive Letter.

Providing students with rubrics and checklists is also important. Revision Checklist is one example for middle grade students, while the Checklist is appropriate for early elementary students.

Optional Activities:

In Chapter 8, you learned about reading strategy instruction. Given that one of goals of the Common Core is to improve literacy across the content area, this impacts all of us. Think about how you currently teach reading strategies. If you don’t, why not? Choose one of the following and work alone or with a partner:

After examining the resources above, you may want to complete one of the following prompts.

  • Make a list of pros and cons about teaching reading strategies in your subject area, regardless of what it is.
  • Write to discuss your comfort level with teaching reading strategies.
  • Write a letter to your colleagues, noting why it’s important that everyone teach reading strategies.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 8: Scaffolding: Setting the Bar High and Raising Students to It

  • August 11, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Comfort Level Teaching Literacy

    I feel very comfortable teaching reading strategies in the content area. I often: Pre-teach Vocabulary; build on prior knowledge; link to cognates, provide key terms in dominant language, use multiple means of presentation, provide read aloud when possible using Google forms – translate and Pear Deck narration. Lab activities involve interactive opportunities and simulation are now pretty widely available.
    Reading in the Content Areas (Real Life Applications) are high interest and related to how we apply the information we learn in class. Using techniques like “Think, Pair, Share” allow students time to process new information and connect to prior knowledge. Using checkpoints and organizers are now available even in the remote setting using tools like “Jamboard” where students can write electronic sticky notes.
    I try to teach a concept then put it in a familiar context or link to prior knowledge. One example is the “cell organelle analogy” where the students compare the organelle functions to something they already know, like parts of the computer, or cell phone functions, or areas in their school, town or home.
    I have developed or adopted different types of graphic organizers and often have students use “Top Down Webs” to organize their thoughts after reading or lecture.
    One thing that is a barrier sometimes is the amount of time that reading requires and students are not always able to commit to the amount of time needed when their schedules compete for this time after school so often it is something that happens in class. With MCAS requirements so diverse and students often coming to class with gaps in learning or struggle with reading or language needs, this can be a challenge. One of the strategies from the reading was to “Highlight Patterns and Big Ideas / Remove unnecessary distractions like extra information” this means to cut down the information not to expand on it with detailed reading assignments so for me this means that I add short “Real Life” applications to provide reading practice in the content area and at the same time the students are reading something interesting and relevant that will give them depth of understanding in the MCAS required topic area.

    • August 19, 2020 at 4:44 pm

      This an incredible reflection. Thank you so much for sharing as I imagine that many educators will read this and connect their own practice. We all have strengths and areas where we design to promote expert learning but the nature of expert learning helps us to reflect on barriers we haven’t yet eliminated and gives us motivation to design in a more equitable way.


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