Getting students to go through lengthy essays on their own and then come up with reports is a classic example of what not to do. Trying to get them on the same page should be a teacher’s first move. This can happen by breaking learning into small chunks, where each chunk comes with concrete framework.

Is Scaffolding the Same as Differentiation?

No, it is not. In case of differentiation, you typically come up with differentiated plans for some students, be it in the form of varied oral or written assignments. With scaffolding, you break learning in small blocks, while providing a defined structure or tool for each. However, use of the two in conjunction is fairly common.

Here are six scaffolding strategies that can help bridge a very important gap.

Show and Tell

Many students find it easier to understand concepts by seeing, as supposed to reading or hearing. Whenever possible, try to demonstrate learning to students through practical examples.

  • Think-alouds. This refers to verbalizing your thoughts as you read through text, develop a project, or solve a problem. It gives young impressionable minds an opportunity to see and understand how critical and developed thinking works.
  • Highlight outcomes in advance. If you plan to assign an inquiry-based project or a persuasive essay, make sure you present a model along with a rubric or a chart. What follows is guiding students through every step till the desired outcome is achieved.
  • Fishbowl activities. Get most students in your class to form a large circle around a small group of students. The smaller group then demonstrates any particular learning through a well laid out activity.

Using Students’ Existing Knowledge

Getting students to use their own ideas, experiences, or guesses in trying to understand any concept or learning makes them an integral part of the process. As a teacher, you’re still free to offer suggestions and hints, although the learning, in a way, becomes their own.

Giving Processing Time

Students need time to process new information, make sense of it, and then articulate it in their own way. Given the importance of structured discussion, it is important to make time for structured talking through triad teams, turn-and-talk, think-pair-share, and other methods.

Pre-Teaching Vocabulary

How do you approach Challenging Text – filled with difficult vocabulary? Start by introducing words to students contextually. Make time for group discussions. Offer metaphors and analogies, while getting students to create drawings or symbols to illustrate the words. In this scenario, they’ll need their dictionaries only to confirm definitions they learn on their own.

Using Visual Aids

Charts, pictures, graphic organizers, and other kinds of imagery make for great scaffolding tools. For example, you can use graphic organizers so students may understand concepts, organize information, and represent ideas in a better manner.

You should use graphic organizers to serve as road maps for students. This is because while some students are good at grasping concepts or learning without graphic organizers, there are others who benefit immensely through the added help they get in processing any kind of information.

Pausing, Questioning, Reviewing

This is an easy and effective way to check for understanding, especially when you are imparting a new learning or explaining a new concept. How it works is simple. You start by sharing a new idea and then pausing, giving your students time to think. Follow this up with a strategic question and pause again. Continue the cycle.

It is important to formulate the questions in advance. Make them specific, open-ended, and guided. Give students adequate time to think. Expect brief, and at times, elongated periods of silence. Encourage active listening by asking random students to tell the class what they make of the ongoing discussion. When questions are hard to crack, allow students to look for answers in pairs or small groups.


It is common knowledge that diverse learners are present in every classroom – which makes it important for teachers to embrace different scaffolding strategies. While using scaffolding strategies might make going through a lesson slower, the end result is often more than rewarding. In this case, scaffolding slowly and steadily is the obvious way to go.