Scaffolding All Students
to Success

Scaffolding is one of the most essential skills an educator can develop, yet the process of scaffolding in the design and delivery of a lesson is often one of the most misunderstood concepts in teaching.  

TESOL Trainers’ professional development workshops on scaffolding  break down the science of scaffolding into manageable strategies and techniques that any educators can employ in the execution of their lessons immediately after completing our training.  

Students engaged in classroom

Scaffolding Sets Students Up For Success

Scaffolding is structuring learning in a step-by-step manner so that students are able to demonstrate their learning without the teacher's support.  While teachers will say that breaking up a lesson into more digestible pieces is best, many teachers often struggle with being able to scaffold learning effectively and efficiently.

TESOL Trainers¬†can help your educators master the fundamental principles of scaffolding learning. ¬† In addition to learning how to scaffold a lesson while planning, we help teachers become adept at employing scaffolding strategies while teaching. ¬†Being able to make things more (or less) digestible ‚Äúin the moment‚ÄĚ is a trait that effective teachers exhibit.

TESOL Trainers provides professional development that empowers and inspires teachers.  Participants in our teacher training sessions not only leave with a solid understanding of the content.  They also leave with the ability to integrate the PD's content into their teaching practices.

John Kongsvik models the gradual release of responsibility for teachers.
TESOL Trainers is your scaffold to success
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The key to efficient & effective learning is scaffolding

No matter what you are teaching, one thing is certain:  a well-crafted lesson is also a well-scaffolded lesson.  When teachers don't scaffold, some learners may finish successfully, but most only find frustration.  In addition to the students feeling like they will never "get it", the teachers are left feeling frustrated that their students aren't rising to the challenge.

On the other hand, teachers who have gone through Dr. John Kongsvik's workshop on Scaffolding Students into Success, find they can easily scaffold students to owning the content and language of the lesson by using the strategies presented in TESOL Trainers’ workshops.

Misconceptions about Scaffolding

Some teachers may have misconceptions about what scaffolding is, the stages it involves, and the purpose of each.  Here are the 5 most common misconceptions about scaffolding:

  1. Scaffolding only means giving students small chunks of content: not too much at once. In fact, scaffolding refers to making any aspect of learning more digestible to the learner depending on what their needs are.
  2. The Gradual Release of Responsibility has three steps:  I do. We do. You do. In fact, there are four steps to the most well-known method of scaffolding, not just three (Below is an example of this).
  3. Scaffolding takes too much time.  Time that I don't have if I'm to teach what I must teach. In fact, the smaller the chunk, the quicker the lesson tends to go.
  4. My students can't handle the freedom of working in pairs or small groups. Research indicates that students learn much more from working with their peers than they learn from their teachers.
  5. I need to stay at each stage until everyone is ready to move on.  I don't want anyone to feel left out. In addition to harming student engagement, this strategy is neither the most effective nor the most efficient means of ensuring everyone succeeds.
two students practicing together

What is the Gradual Release of Responsibility?

The¬†Gradual Release of Responsibility¬†is an approach to scaffolding a lesson's content in order to make it more accessible to students. ¬†The ‚ÄčThis method of¬†structuring teaching and learning in the classroom has four¬†stages (See Below).

The Gradual Release of Responsibility is designed to move the students (gradually) from needing the teacher's full support (by the end) not needing any support from the teacher to succeed.  Its step by step approach transfers the responsibility of having to demonstrate ownership from the teacher to the students.

The 4 Stages of the Gradual  Release of Responsibility

‚ÄčStage 1: Teacher does; Students watch

‚ÄčStage 1: Teacher does; Students watch¬†

During this initial phase, the teacher models how to do something (e.g. identify sentence fragments).  The students follow the teacher along as she demonstrates for the students.  It's her responsibility to provide a proper model.

Stage 2: Teacher does; Students help  

Stage 2: Teacher does; Students help  

During this next phase, the teacher provides another example (of spotting sentence fragments.  This time, the teacher elicits input from the students.  While she gives students a greater role, it's mostly still her responsibility.

‚ÄčStage 3: Students do; Teacher helps

‚ÄčStage 3: Students do; Teacher helps

During this third phase, small groups of students practice the task (of spotting sentence fragments).  This time, the teacher plays a less active role, merely helping students who are stuck.  At this point, students have a greater share of the responsibility than the teacher.

‚ÄčStage 4: Students do; Teacher watches

‚ÄčStage 4: Students do; Teacher watches

During this final phase, students do the task (of spotting sentence fragments) independently of their peers and teacher.  This time, the teacher plays the role of an observer.  At this point, students have 100% of the responsibility to show what they know.

TESOL Trainers empowers teachers to scaffold any lesson successfully

Educators who complete TESOL Trainer's Professional Development on Scaffolding Students into Success have greater confidence and competence at scaffolding.  Here are a few other things they wind up leaving our workshops with:

  1. ‚Äč‚ÄčIdentify one's own strengths, challenges, and biases when scaffolding.
  2. Describe the stages of scaffolding, the purpose if each, and how they look.
  3. Determine the kinds of activities that fit into each of the four stages.
  4. Plan a lesson that demonstrates ownership of this method of scaffolding.
  5. Evaluate each step in the Gradual Release of Responsibility for its effectiveness.
  6. Create a personal action point to continue to work on the skill of scaffolding learning.

TESOL Trainers Provides Onsite and Online K-12 PD on the Gradual Release of Responsibility

Properly scaffolding learning has never been more important than now. Whether you have a classroom full of multilingual learners or have no English Learners, all students learn more effectively and more efficiently when the lesson is well-scaffolded.

TESOL Trainers offers interactive and inspiring professional development on scaffolding strategies that can profoundly impact how teachers design and deliver their online lessons.  Some of the topics we cover during this teacher training sessions are:

  • The Gradual Release of Responsibility: Teacher does. Students watch; Teacher does. Students help; Students do. Teacher helps; Students do. Teachers watch.
  • Reasons why most teachers do two of the four stages of the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Stages one and four).
  • Remedies for avoiding stages of the Gradual Release of Responsibility - mainly stage three.
  • How Scaffolding looks in the content area classroom.
  • ‚ÄčWays to involve students meaningfully in all stages of scaffolding.
  • ‚ÄčStrategies to get students to work effectively together online.
  • Techniques to engage students with one another during stage three.
  • The use of self-reflection in the gradual release of responsibility.
  • Using Jamboard, breakout rooms, and group projects in remote learning.
  • How to use formative assessments to increase or decrease the scaffolding while teaching.
  • Test-Teach-Test and Scaffolding.
  • Inquiry learning and scaffolding.
  • Simple strategies and techniques to make scaffolding easier during planning and teaching.
TESOL Trainers K12 Remote Professional Development K12

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