Scaffolding Strategies to Use in Your Classroom

13 min read
Scaffolding Strategies to Use in Your Classroom

The term ‘scaffolding’ indicated a teacher or peer’s support for learning. By scaffolding, a teacher helps pupils learn a skill or subject they initially struggled with. The teacher only helps with skills that the pupil lacks. Allowing the learner to perform as much of the assignment independently is critical. When a pupil cannot complete a task, the teacher assists him.

Errors are anticipated, but students can succeed with teacher criticism and guidance. When the learner masters the task, the teacher gradually removes the scaffolding, allowing the pupil to work independently.

Errors are anticipated, but students can succeed with teacher criticism and guidance

What Does Scaffolding Refer to?

The scaffolding is a bridge that connects what students already know to something they do not know. Scaffolding is a tool that enables rather than deactivates.

Scaffolding student learning can use a variety of tools. You can use several strategies to help students succeed in school and life. Others may include providing recommendations, techniques, cues, and procedures. Teachers must keep students focused on the task while reducing stress.

Too difficult skills or assignments can frustrate students, as can too basic tasks. Each facilitation method is chosen as an instructional tool. To clear up misconceptions and individualize instruction, teachers must have open communication with pupils.

It is critical to understand the student’s past knowledge and ability. So that the student is motivated to study, the teacher must find out what the student already knows.

Vygotsky believed “good learning” happens in the child’s proximal zone. The ZPD emphasizes determining what the learner can achieve independently and allowing him to perform as much as possible without assistance.

“Fading” is the process of gradually diminishing the child’s scaffolding until it is gone. The child eventually internalizes the information and becomes self-regulated and independent.

Until pupils master new or challenging tasks, they receive extra help or support from a teacher or experienced adult (MKO). As the learner gains competence, the MKO’s assistance or support gradually decreases, transferring responsibility for learning to the learner. Zhao and Orey describe a task-sharing situation between the teacher and the student as “scaffolding.”

Until pupils master new or challenging tasks

The authors divide this basic principle into two parts:

  • Assist the student with those components of the task that they cannot yet manage, and let them complete as much as they can without assistance.
  • The zone of proximal development is a key concept in scaffolded instruction. Vygotsky proposes two developmental levels for learners: actual and prospective. To define the zone of proximal development, one must first define what it is.

The zone of proximal development (ZPD) refers to the space between a learner’s capabilities and performance when supported by an adult or peer with more knowledge. The ‘more knowledgeable other’ (MKO) shares expertise with the student to bridge the knowledge gap.

As the student’s knowledge grows, so does his developmental level, and the ZPD shifts. Because the ZPD of each student changes as they grow and learn, you must constantly adjust scaffolded training.

Here are a few scaffolding techniques that you can explore.

Scaffolding Strategies

Show and Tell

We prefer learning through visuals rather than sounds when it comes to learning. Scaffolding relies heavily on the use of models for students. Whenever possible, illustrate or show them what they should do. You can also have them participate in a fishbowl exercise.

The remainder of the class surrounds a small section of students; the fishbowl demonstrates a particular activity to show the surrounding students how it is done.

Show students what they can expect by showing them. A model and a criterion chart or rubric should be offered side by side whether a teacher assigns a persuasive essay or science project. Having a model of the result on hand allows you to walk students through the process step by step.

It is helpful to use “think aloud,” which simulates the process of thinking out loud while you are doing anything like reading or solving an issue. Children’s cognitive capacities are still developing; thus, it is crucial to expose them to mature critical thinking.

Show and Tell

Take Advantage of Prior Understanding

Students should be asked to relate and connect the topic or concept to their personal experiences, hunches, and ideas. By getting a few clues and ideas, they will understand the material on their own. There are various ways to use your students’ prior knowledge as a scaffolding approach in the classroom, but many would agree that this is just effective teaching.

Give Them Time to Speak

Students of all ages require time to absorb new concepts and ideas and explain what they have learned to the other students going through the same thing. Structured dialogues are most effective with children of all ages. You can weave discussion methods like Think-pair-share, Turn-and-talk, Triad teams, or others into your lessons.

Take Advantage of Prior Understanding

Front-Loading Vocabulary

Front-loading Vocabulary is one method that educators underutilize. Most educators leave students to navigate the topic or subject on their own. The road is littered with jargon-laden obstacles. For some reason, we are surprised when they lose interest, make a fuss, or fall asleep.

You do not simply take a few terms from the material and ask them to look them up and then write them down—we have all been there. The best way to teach kids new terms is to show them how they relate to things they already know or are interested in.

Encourage pupils to use analogies and metaphors to represent each phrase with a symbol or image. Allow students to debate the words in small groups and as a class.

All of this must be completed before the dictionaries are released. Only definitions they have discovered on their own will be utilized to compare with the definitions in the dictionaries. Students are ready to take on a difficult book with you as their guide if they have a few dozen words in front of them.

Front-Loading Vocabulary

Use Visual Assistance If Necessary

Structuring tools can include graphic organizers, diagrams, and graphs. Visualizing ideas, organizing information, and grasping concepts like sequence and cause-and-effect are all made easier with graphic organizers. An organizer should not be viewed as the final product but rather a tool to help pupils order their thoughts.

Certain kids can use graphic organizers without difficulty, but many of our students utilize one while reading a difficult passage or learning new information. To think of graphic organizers in this way is like comparing them to a child’s training wheels.

Use Visual Assistance If Necessary

Take a Breather, Ask Questions, and Review

When kids are reading a tough piece of text or learning a new subject, this is an excellent technique to make sure they comprehend. Here’s how this technique is put into action: After introducing a fresh concept that has come up in conversation or via the reading, take a moment to pause and ask a strategic question before halting once more.

Make sure the questions you ask are clear, instructive, and open-ended to get the most out of your interviewees. Hold out during that Uncomfortable Silence because even brilliant inquiries fail if we do not give ourselves enough time to ponder our answers.)

You may keep your students engaged as active listeners by asking someone to summarize what just happened. If the class cannot come up with an answer to a question, allow pupils to work in pairs to brainstorm.

Teachers need to learn and experiment with new scaffolding tactics because of the wide range of students in our classrooms. I tell the instructors I work with that they need to slow down if they want to go fast. Even though scaffolding a lesson takes longer to teach, the end product is of considerably superior quality, and the overall experience is more rewarding for everyone involved.

Take a Breather, Ask Questions, and Review

Challenges and Benefits

Just like any other learning approach, scaffolding has its challenges and benefits. As an educator, professional, or trainer, understanding and comparing the two will help you evaluate the usefulness of the tactics and techniques and allow for full planning before implementation. The difficulties are real, but they can be dealt with if you plan.


  • It takes a long time
  • The lack of adequate staff
  • Misjudgment of the proximal development zone; success depends on finding the area that is slightly outside but not too far beyond the student’s ability.
  • A lack of consideration for individual students’ requirements, preferences, and interests means that not adequately taught instructors will not reap the full benefits.
  • Fading requires the teacher to relinquish control.
  • The absence of concrete examples and pointers in textbooks written specifically for teachers.

Consider the context in which you plan to use the tactics and approaches before deciding the value of scaffolding. Additionally, you must first know your students and assess their specific needs.



  • You can detect giftedness early on if certain signs are present.
  • Provides customized training for each student.
  • More confidence in the learner’s ability to acquire the needed abilities, skills, and knowledge.
  • Adapts to the needs of each student.
  • As a result, the amount of time spent on the task is raised, and the amount of time it takes to complete the activity is decreased, allowing for greater productivity.
  • Students spend less time looking and more time studying and exploring due to the structure offered by scaffolding.
  • Involved the student.
  • Arouses the student’s desire to learn.
  • Reduces the student’s degree of frustration.

Differentiation or Scaffolding?

Structuring and differentiation are general instructional strategies that educators employ to teach a diverse group of students, each with their own unique set of learning needs, in the same course, classroom, or learning environment.

There are certain classrooms where scaffolding and differentiation methods are employed to achieve similar educational goals, i.e., bringing students’ learning and comprehension from where they are to where they should be.

However, the two approaches differ in numerous ways. For example, teachers often use scaffolding to help pupils learn discrete aspects of a subject or skill by breaking it down into manageable chunks.

Teachers may give students an excerpt of a larger work to read, discuss the excerpt with them to appreciate its significance, and teach them the terminology they need to comprehend before assigning them the whole reading.

To better match their reading level and ability, teachers might give some students an entirely different text or give the entire class an option to choose from several texts (so each student can pick the one that interests them).

Alternatively, when teachers differentiate instruction, they might give the entire class the option to choose from several texts (so each student can pick the one that interests them.

The teacher can use mini-lessons to help pupils better understand the material being taught in a larger lesson. They can break down algebraic problems into smaller and more manageable chunks for sequential teaching.

Between each mini-lesson, the teacher checks to see if students comprehend the concept, provides them time to practice the equations, and explains how the math skills they are learning will help them answer the more difficult problem. It is possible to use the phrase guided practice to describe this strategy in some instances.

Differentiation or Scaffolding