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In my years of teaching, I have found that the terminology used to described teaching methods is more difficult that it needs to be. Jerome Bruner coined the term scaffolding. That said, teachers use scaffolding in every lesson they teach. Scaffolding is the steps you take to insure your students “get it” and starts with simpler skills, concepts, etc. and moves toward the more difficult. The teacher may also make sure similar knowledge or skills are isolated so that the student learns them without interference (such as /p/ and /b/ in a phonics lesson).
Students are expected to acquire knowledge and become self-regulated/independent learners. Some students, such as those with learning disabilities or English Language Learners, need more individualized attention. Hence, the term mediated scaffolding, i.e., instruction that is closely guided by the teacher.
The amount, sequence and selection of information enhance the probability that information will be learned.
In mediated scaffolding, as the learner makes progress — knowledge, skills, and abilities increase — the degree of scaffolding changes. The teacher may change the design of the task to be completed or the amount of assistance offered.
The University of Oregon Center for Teaching and Learning web page Big Ideas in Beginning Reading is an excellent example of scaffolding in early reading. Each section gives examples of mediated scaffolding. The Big Ideas web page can be found here.
Students in ELL or ESL are as diverse as the students in any other classroom. Mediated scaffolding will follow the same principles for those students as students learning any other content. This link will take you to a good example of scaffolding for ESL.
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