Imagine a child learning to ride bike without training wheels and no help at all. It is likely that the child will fall down and get hurt. This may be enough to put them off trying to ride a bike completely.

Learning is like that. If we give students an equation without helping them understand the basic formula they will be lost.

We need to provide stepping stones to help students get on track and understand the whole picture. One of the most popular techniques is scaffolding. We have picked out five scaffolding techniques you can try out in your class.

1. Assess Prior Knowledge

Tap into your students’ prior knowledge by encouraging them to relate and connect to their personal lives. Ask students to share their experiences and ideas. If you notice they are having a hard time relating to the content then give them a few suggestions to get them started. Use this scaffolding technique every time you start a new task.

E.g. Talking about swimming, or a fish tank when you are teaching buoyancy.

OR show them a picture of something related to the lesson and ask them a question about it.

2. Include Cooperative Learning

Try to include a quick cooperative learning technique into your lesson. Group students and get them to talk to one and other so they get a chance to verbally articulate what they are learning with their peers. These structured discussions allows student to process what they are learning and share and hear others ideas on the subject. It’s a great outlet for kids and helps the students who are struggling to make sense of what they are learning.

E.g. Get pairs to discuss the steps to solve a certain mathematical formula. Get them to try a few examples.

3. Incorporate Visual Aids

Pictures, charts and anything else that you can visually depict is a great scaffolding tool to use. Pictures and charts are a great visual representation of what you want students to learn. They serve as a guide to help students think about what they want to write and are especially beneficial with challenging information or difficult texts.

E.g. If you are talking about coral reefs, chances are that students may not even know what coral is. You could bring an actual piece of coral to pass around.

4. Check for Understanding

Provide time for students to think while you check for understanding. For this strategy you start by discussing a new concept or idea, then you pause for a moment to let it sink in, then you ask a strategic question, and pause for another moment.

Eg. Show them multiple rocks and ask which one they think is sedimentary. Then ask them to give you a reason why.

Open-ended questions are the best to use here because they allow students to use their critically thinking skills to come up with an answer.

E.g. Why do you think the flying lizard developed the ability to glide?

Make sure to give students an ample amount of time to think about the answer, and after one student has answered, keep the others engaged by calling upon more students to reiterate what the first student just said. If you really see that students are having a hard time answering your question, then use this question for your cooperative learning groups so students can get the opportunity to discuss it with their classmates.

There are a lot of scaffolding techniques that you can use in your classroom. Be sure to experiment and chose the ones that work well for you and your class. Although it may seem like it may take longer to teach a lesson, just remember that it will all be worth it in the end.

What is your favourite chapter or concept to teach? Tell us what ways you could use the scaffolding technique while teaching it. Leave us your answers in the comments below.