Scaffolding Children in their Learning

Preparation and Language of the Teacher

To know how to extend and move a child’s learning further requires the skill of scaffolding. To scaffold effectively is one of the most important skills a teacher can ever develop and use for effective teaching and learning!

The way teachers set up the learning space, the invitation they provide through the use of provocations and materials, the questions and comments they make to support children’s reflection, the learning intentions revised during Tuning In, the summary of learning at Reflection and during the day and the engagement of children in group discussions and learning conversations are all aspects of effective scaffolding

Scaffolding and Modelling through Tuning In and Reflection

Revision of Learning intentions

  • The learning intentions are listed and displayed where you are Tuning In
  • You have preplanned any props that will assist to unpack the learning intentions. Some teachers have a provocation basket ready with some examples children’s investigations, samples of work or photos of investigations from the day before, provocations from the environment that you wish to highlight.
  • You have thought of some questions or comments you might use.
    • “What were we practicing in numeracy/literacy yesterday?”
    • Where might you explore that during investigations?
    • “Who might like to come and show us or tell us an example?”
    • What do you know about…?
    • Who would like to explain what we are learning about in science/art/literacy?
    • “Kathy, yesterday when you were building in the block area, you were measuring your blocks, and you were actually using that skill of measuring height weren’t you.”
    • “Can anyone else think of an example?”

Focus Students

  • You may not know what the focus child will choose to work on or where, but you know them and will have refreshed yourself with their interests, where they were working the day before and what their individual goals are.
  • You will have thought about possible questions ready for each focus child.
    •  “Kathy (regardless of where she may choose to work) I know you are working hard to concentrate and stay focused at the moment. So when you are working in that area today, I want you to try to stay there for a while.  Let’s plan some things you might achieve and work on before you leave that area today.”

“Kathy, I know you have been working in that area a lot lately.  It is time now for us to extend your work and thinking there. I would like you to think about some extra things we would add into that area or some extra skills we could work on together in that area today. Can anyone else help us to plan what else Kathy could do in that area today?”

Reporter and Photographer

  • Plan ahead and set a task for each Reporter and Photographer.
  • Work hard to personalise the task.
  • Make sure it is intended to be fun, challenging and interesting.
  • Try to ensure that it is never quite the same as the reporter from the day before and it is pitched to the need or strength of the individual.
  • Think carefully about the language you use with the Reporter, Photographer and Focus Children.
  • Although your scaffolding sounds natural you are deliberately using the language of learning and skill all of the time.
    • “Ok, Who is our first focus child to day, and who is second? That’s interesting isn’t it, we are learning about first, second and third in Numeracy. That has a name doesn’t it? That’s right, ordinal number!”
  • Use the terms of learning and investigation with the reporter and photographer when giving them a task.
    • “The task for your learning today is to practice some skills of recording”
    • “Your special task today is to explore our environment and discover where there are         some 3D shapes being used. I wonder if you could name some of them”
    • “Your task today is to practise using punctuation in your writing”
    • “This task today will help you learn more about observing others”

Avoid saying, “Today you are doing…” or “Today we are doing…” Try to eliminate the term “doing” from your language with children at all times throughout the dayThey are not “doing”, they are learning, investigating, exploring, practising etc.

Reflection Time

  • Make sure you are prepared.
  • Before Reflection Time, try a mini rehearsal with the Focus Children, Reporter and Photographer This helps you and the child be better prepared. You can explicitly discuss with them:
    • “These are some of the skills I will be asking you about.”
    • “What skills or learning do you think you would like to share today?”
    • “Do you think you could demonstrate that skill to the class at Reflection?’
  • Ensure that if the photos are to be uploaded, you and the Photographer already know which one or two will be shared, discussed and why. Don’t waste time uploading, trouble shooting with technology during Reflection Time.

Key Points for Reflection and Scaffolding

  • Remember to unpack the skills:
    • “Kathy I see you were working over in the airport this morning. What role did you have? OK, you were the check-in attendant. What skills and roles did you have to do today?”
  • Then summarise and make explicit the skills and learning for the entire group and include the group in the conversation.
    • “So, Kathy had to check names, read names, look up times and destinations, what is a destination?”
    • “Who has been on a plane?”
    • “How do you know which plane to go on and what time?”
  • Have examples with you to engage and hook the children in who are sitting in the group.
  • Ensure children are attending and excited by the conversation.
  • Make it exciting, almost a bit fast paced and keep the energy going.

Remember, the teacher is the person who has to engage the “audience”.  The audience doesn’t have to engage itself. The key to the scaffolding at Reflection is that you have to engage the children and make the skills explicit to the children.

  • “Wow, you have actually made some 3 D shapes in the mobile and Lego construction today and that is exactly one of the numeracy skills we are working on at the moment.”
  • “So I see Kathy, that firstly, you worked here, secondly you moved to this area and then third, you moved to here.” – (modelling ordinal number)
  • “I can see that you used a whole lot of processes today and followed some procedures. Let’s talk them through, given we are actually learning about writing procedures at the moment. I might write them down while you talk to us about the procedures you used.”
  • “I noticed you had to wait for a turn in that area today and I know that can be frustrating at times. How did you cope with that today and wait without getting too cross or frustrated?”  You might ask the other children, “What ways can we work through our frustrations or anger when we feel those emotions?”
  • “I notice that you were counting out some money today in the shop. We haven’t actually even learned much about money yet. What do you know about money?”
  • “Who else knows about money? What do you buy? How much is a….?”
  • You can scaffold anything and everything.
    • Behaviour,
    • Values
    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • Science
    • Music
    • Everything
  • The key is to keep thinking BEFORE Tuning In and Reflection“what language will I use, what words, terms, props, examples, artefacts can I have as examples?”

Points to Remember when Scaffolding Foundation – Year Two

  • Children love real things! Have concrete examples (at Tuning In and Reflection) of the types of skills you are talking about. The more examples of things from Investigations, preferably what they have made or photos of their own constructions and work, the better.
  • Do you ever go to the work in progress shelf and choose something from there to use as an example of a skill? Please do!
  • Keep things at a pace that ensures all of the children engaged. They need lots of visual prompts when sitting together at group times.
  • Ensure your scaffolding includes lots of visual prompts, not just you talking. (have a provocation basket which include children’s work, photos and provocations from the environment, sometimes use  a puppet or a song).

Questions from Children

  • Avoid getting children to ask the same boring questions of the focus children each day such as; “What did you make, do you like it, what could you have done differently?”
  • Model asking questions and making comments, and include the children.
  • Encourage the children to think about issues and to sometimes ask thoughtful question of the focus child, but not just ask the same questions for the sake of a question.

Questions, Comments, Scaffolding Ideas to Broaden and Deepen Your Repertoire

  • Tell me about some of the learning you did today.
  • What skills are you practicing at the moment?
  • I can see some shapes in there. Can anyone else?
  • I can see some patterns. Can you?
  • How many pieces are there in that?
  • I can see some patterns? What patterns can you see?
  • What will you do next with that?
  • I wonder what ideas anyone has on how we can could extend that or practice another skill with this tomorrow?
  • What could we find out about now?
  • I wonder how that was made?
  • Were there any bits that were challenging or tricky?
  • What are some of our learning intentions right now?
  • What part of reading or writing are you learning about?
  • What are have you been practicing in Numeracy?
  • Where do you intend on starting your work this morning? What will you be investigating this morning? What have you found out so far? What would you like to find out today?
  • Are you working independently, with a partner/ with a group?
  • What special jobs does each team member/ partner have?
  • How do you work best as a group or with a partner?
  • What sort of skills do you need to include everyone?
  • Why have you chosen to investigate this today?
  • What do you know already?
  • How did you discover this? What would you like to find out next?
  • How long do you think it will take you to work on your Investigation?
  • What else do you need to do?
  • What other materials will you need to use to finish your investigation? What skills are you using to do this today?
  • Have you set goals for your work? What are they?
  • Do you think you’ll need to add more goals to your list now that you have started?
  • How could you record your goals in your Investigation journal?
  • Have you made a design brief for your investigation? What have you put in your design?
  • What have you investigated yesterday / last week / in the past?
  •  How is this investigation/ task different to your last one/s?
  •  What different materials are you using this time compared to last time? Why are you using these?
  • What have you investigated or created previously that you are proud of?
  • What was really challenging for you today? Why?
  • How was this investigation difficult?
  • How have you shown persistence/resilience while building your investigation?
  • What were you really proud of today? What were you working really hard on?
  • What will your investigation look like when it is completed? How could you show the other children how to create an investigation like yours?
  • What types of skills were you working on this morning? How can you share these with the children during “Reflection” time?
  • How does your investigation relate to this week’s learning focus? What do you know already about this week’s learning focus? What would you like to know?
  • Something I would do differently next time would be …
  • Something that I found challenging was…
  • I solved a problem by …
  • A strategy in my learning was …
  • The skill I was practicing was …
  • Something new I discovered was…
  • Today I practiced …
  • I was proud of my learning when I …