Teacher Reflections

6 Scaffolding Strategies & 16 tools to implement them during Remote Learning

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I wish I could register every moment of confusion in my student’s eyes, peek over their shoulder at the passage they’re struggling with, and simply pull up a chair next to a student that needs help.

Instead, I’m scanning 25 miniature faces while squinting at tiny boxes of screens and frantically giving feedback as quickly as possible…all while also monitoring a chatbox and my inbox to troubleshoot inevitable tech issues.

Remote learning has turned my world upside down; some days I feel like I’m just treading water. 

I’ve used virtual station rotations, created discussion & debate groups, and utilized asynchronous instruction to alleviate some of the challenges of remote learning. However, even with creative lesson design, I feel that I’m leaving my struggling readers further behind because they don’t have the just-in-time support they have readily available in the classroom. 

So, in my never-ending attempt to reach all of my students, I began to look for strategies to scaffold student learning more effectively. I came across an excellent resource on Edutopia from Rebecca Alber, a literacy specialist and instructor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education. I adapted her ideas by organizing tools I have used in the past to more intentionally scaffold student learning. I don’t use all 6 strategies during every lesson, but I felt they were worth sharing because they help translate the strategies you already utilize effectively in the classroom to an online setting in order to meet more of our students where they are at.

Here are Rebecaa Alber’s 6 Scaffolding Strategies and 16 tools to help implement them during remote learning: 
  1. Show & Tell: Model how to annotate and analyze a portion of the text, data, or documents through screencasting. Possible tools: Screencastomatic, Screencastify, Flipgrid Shorts.
  2. Tap into and build prior knowledge: Create spaces for students to share what they already know about a topic with their peers and build background by watching and discussing a video before tackling a difficult text. Possible tools: Loom, EdPuzzle, Padlet, Google Jamboard, Actively Learn Video Assignments
  3. Time to talk: Give students time to process new ideas and information. Also, re-introduce a vital component of the classroom– social interaction– by creating opportunities for student conversation while reading. Possible tools: Perusall, Actively Learn Notes, Google Doc Comments.
  4. Pre-teach vocabulary: Introduce words using visuals in the context students encounter them. Possible tools: Quizlet with images, Google Docs Explore and Define tools, Frayer model.
  5. Use Graphic Organizers: Help students visualize, connect, and organize new information. Possible tools: Kami, Graphic Organizer templates in Google Drawing
  6. Pause, Ask Questions, Pause, Review: Research shows that students who effectively use questioning strategies independently for informational texts are more likely to attain higher levels of academic success. Modeling effective questioning and providing students with sufficient time to prepare their responses can help them review critical ideas and deepen their understanding of challenging texts. Possible tools: Actively Learn, Pear Deck

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