Thursday’s Tip: A Little Guidance Goes a Long Way

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One of the most difficult aspects of teaching is finding ways to insure that all students are successful, not just those who are the most gifted. In our current system of “one-size-fits-all”¬†curriculum, it is hard to figure out ways to help our struggling learners or those with learning disabilities to meet the same expectations as “regular education” students. There are expectations for all students to meet, but some aren’t as well-equipped as others to be successful.

One way to insure your neediest students get the support they require is to provide scaffolding to organize their learning. Many regular education students can also benefit from scaffolding, but they can also often be successful without these tools or can simply create their own scaffolding. Scaffolding could take the form of a graphic organizer or an outline. Sometimes, scaffolding can just be a strategy we give a student to help them with some difficult content.

A teacher with which I work shared a strategy he used in his current events class. Every day, students are required to bring in a summary of a news story to share with the class. One student in the class struggles to keep up with his peers. So, the teacher breaks down what should be included in his news summary. The student is asked to simply provide the who, what, when, why, and where (or the “Five W’s”) of every news story he chooses to share. The student has been successful with this task, something that was not expected. This allows the student to be successful and meet the same expectations as his classmates despite some learning deficiencies.

Scaffolding allows us to guide our students to success, particularly those who don’t have the same abilities as their peers. Using scaffolding strategies can help students reach their full learning capacities by helping them get past any deficits. Guide your students to success by providing them the scaffolding to learn and you may find that they can go further than you or they ever hoped.

What are some ways you use scaffolding to guide your students to greater heights? How has scaffolding helped your special education students succeed? What are some effective scaffolding strategies you have found in your teaching?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.

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