Student Participation-Scaffolding

Student Participation-Scaffolding

Written by: Cristina, Christine, Nancy, Vicky
Proofread by: Emma
Ideas contributed by: Ava, Christine, Cristina, Emma, Nancy, Vicky

I. Definition 

When talking about scaffolding, people may picture a building under construction. There’s an undeniable fact that scaffolding is a temporary process. It will be taken down once the building is finished. That’s the same as the Teacher’s assistance in language learning. 

There is a quote by Jerome Seymour Bruner, a professor from Harvard University. "Scaffolding refers to the steps taken to reduce the degrees of freedom in carrying out some tasks so that the child can concentrate on the difficult skill she is in the process of acquiring"(Bruner, 1978, p. 19).

In language learning, scaffolding is a teaching strategy that teachers use to provide support through modeling and dividing difficult tasks into smaller steps, and leading them to complete tasks independently. 

II. Application

Teachers help students focus on the most complex task, then after teachers offer support, students will be able to complete it independently later. There are various types of scaffolding, such as verbal scaffolding, emotional scaffolding, and social scaffolding. Verbal scaffolding is the commonly used one because it deserves case-by-case analysis. Here are some examples in the Qkids classroom:

Eg.1- Teacher Guidance and Language Choice

In any case, teaching instructions should be straightforward, which is termed as “KISS”-- Keep it short and simple

The ultimate goal of scaffolding is to have students complete tasks by themselves. The whole process can be easily divided into “I do, we do, and you do”.

* "I do"

-- Teacher sets an example first.
-- He is cycling by the lake. (From Level 2 Unit 1 Lesson 6)

* "We do"

-- Teacher asks a series of content-based questions or guides students to do role-play and group discussion(In Qkids Animation and Role-play sections).
-- Yes/No questions: Is he cycling by the lake?
-- Optional questions: Is he cycling by the lake or on the playground?
-- Tag questions: Is he cycling by the lake, isn't he? 
-- What is he doing? Where is he? 

* "You do"

-- Students complete tasks in Qkids “Individual activities”(Normally in Lucky cards/Candy Machine/Chatter Box).

Eg.2- Hints and Tailored Assistance

Scaffolding usually goes step by step. Teacher can use body language, descriptions, and/or tools on the platform, etc. to assist students to output language targets by themselves, especially when Teacher notices some students need extra time to finish. 

1. Use body movements to help build connections with meanings

When students are thinking about “What is Koby doing?”, Teacher could use body movements timely to help students understand the meanings. For example, Teacher pretends to run so as to guide students to say "running". This helps students learn both visually and verbally. 

2. Use simple language to describe the target language

When students are unable to understand the word “college”, Teacher could simply say “Now you are in elementary school. Then after middle school and high school, you might go to college. Do you understand?”

3. Use tools such as text board to type sentence frames

In Qkids classes, when students finish the task after learning sentences, Teacher could use the Text-board to type the target sentence frames to practice, such as “It is a _____.” or “I used to____when I was___.”.

4. Resort to phonics to help students in spelling games

Besides reading each letter of a word, Teacher could also use phonics to help. For example, “Students, could you spell dentist? d-d-d, den-den, t-t-t, ti-s-t, dentist!”.

Eg.3- Chunking Materials

Chunking materials refers to the process of breaking down a new teaching target into individual pieces(also known as meaning groups) and arrange them into a sequence to support language learning.

1. Break down a complete target into smaller units

“There are two dorm buildings in my school.” might be difficult for young students to read. However, if it is divided into “There are”, “two”, “dorm buildings” and “in my school”, it would be much easier to read.

2. Practice each separate unit individually 

When guiding students to practice the separate units, Teacher can offer timely support. Using teaching tools, such as Highlighter and Spotlight, to put stress on sounds would be a great help for students to gain fluency.

3. Organize the information 

After practicing, Teacher can guide students to group all smaller units together by asking students related questions to elicit student output. 

T: How many dorm buildings can you see?
S: Two dorm buildings.
T: Where are the dorm buildings?
S: In my school.
T: How many dorm buildings are there in your school?
S: There are two dorm buildings in my school.

Eg.4- Corrections

Here are the steps for corrections in class:

Teacher presents → Students struggle/make mistakes → Teacher gives corrections → Students repeat the correct forms & practice

1. Correction on pronunciation

T: Three. (From Level 1 Unit 1 Lesson 6)(Set an example)
S: Sree.
T: Close. Try again. Th-Th-Th. (Point to the mouth and emphasize the Th- sound)
S: Th-Th-Th.
T: Th-ree→ Three.
S: Three.

2. Correction on the plural form

T: She has two arms. (From Level 1 Unit 3 Lesson 22)
S: She has two arm.
T: One arm, two armS-S-S→arms. (Show TPR to convey the meaning)
S: Arms.
T: She has two arms.
S: She has two arms.

In a nutshell, from the analysis above, a conclusion can be drawn that verbal scaffolding can be effectively applied in online language learning classes.

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Bruner, J. S. (1978). The role of dialogue in language acquisition. In A. Sinclair, R., J. Jarvelle, and W. J.M. Levelt (eds.) The Child's Concept of Language. New York: Springer-Verlag.


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