Term of Art: Scaffolding

“Coaching or modeling provided by a teacher to increase students’ likelihood of success as they develop new skills or learn new concepts. Scaffolding in education is analogous to scaffolding in construction: just as a building’s scaffolding is a temporary framework that is withdrawn when the structure is is strong enough to stand on its own, so too is scaffolding on the classroom removed when students achieve competence in the targeted area. In any classroom, the teacher’s goal is to enable students to perform tasks on their own, with a minimum of adult aid. Effective scaffolding occurs when the teacher explains an assignment, brings the task to an appropriate level of difficulty, breaks the task into a doable sequence of operations, provides feedback, and helps students gain mastery of new knowledge. Good teachers have always employed scaffolding, even if they never heard of the term.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

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