Day 7 – Scaffolding

Hey guys,

So, here’s the recap for Tuesday, February 2nd.

Required reading: Smagorinsky Ch. 2 and Benko “Scaffolding: An Ongoing Process to Support Adolescent Writing Developement”

Class started off a little rocky. Some of us got the email about the flipped schedule; some of us didn’t. So, to kick off class, we split into two groups: those who got through the correct reading and those who did not.

Those who hadn’t had a chance to read the new piece were able to do so.

Those who had already read the pieces discussed the worksheet that would have been a quiz.

In the discussion (from group 2):

To start off the discussion about the readings we looked at the components of Smagorinsky’s approach to scaffolding in teaching writing (a shortened list of these are available in your text on page 21).


Components #14 and #15 talk about modeling. As a group we talked about the fact that modeling is a good thing, but modeling a process rather than a form is the best. When modeling, we aren’t just modeling what we want our students’ work to look like, but how we want our students thought process to go. According to Smagorinsky, ideas and content should come before modeling. For instance, a student should know the basic form of a haiku and what you are expecting to see when they write one before you show them examples of traditional haikus. We also made it clear that modeling can be very vulnerable moments for teachers (especially us new teachers), because when we model for our students we are modeling our thought process. Our models are not the work that we produce for our students, but the thoughts that we go through as we do it. Understanding that line can be a hard thing to get.

Components #5 and #7 deal with students sharing their work. According to Smagorinsky’s approach, students should share with each other often. In order to facilitate this, the teacher “orchestrates” activities for students to do together without being led too much. Guided questions can be used to keep students on track, but generally it helps if the teacher is as hands-off as possible. As Benko put it, “The person doing the work is the person doing the learning.”

Benko Piece:

The main takeaway from this piece was that scaffolding does not equal helping. Helping is when we simply show our students how to do what we want them to do and give them assistance when they can’t do it. Scaffolding is when we see a student strugling and we give them the tools to succeed, but we don’t necessarily give them a right or wrong answer. For scaffolding to be done the way Benko describes it, the student must eventually be able to do it by themselves. One good way that this can be done is by giving students increasing degrees of freedom with each task and occasionally demonstrating possible ways to complete the task. Overall, the Benko piece showed us how scaffolding is not just a method of teaching, but it’s an approach to thinking of the different ways we can help our students succeed. The picture below is straight out of the reading, and it describes the process of scaffolding.  2016-02-02 (1)

For image source, please visit:

Benko, Susanna L. “Scaffolding: An Ongoing Process to Support Adolescent Writing Development.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 56.4 (2012): 291-300. Web



After discussing the texts we were asked to create a visual illustration to demonstrate our thinking about the relationship between these things:

  1. Tasks
  2. Structured Process Approach to teaching writing
  3. Scaffolding through the writing process

We will discuss these visuals in class Thursday. Till then, here they are with no additional context.


Looking ahead:

For Thursday, please read Not Every Sentence Can be Great but Every Sentence Must be Good by Cynthia Martin, and bring back the three This I Believe essays that we read for class. Our first drafts of our own essays should be returned then.

Also don’t forget your 5 tweets for the week.


Some other good blog pages and resources :

For more information (in a slightly less academic format) check out this blog post by Rebecca Alber titled 6 Scaffolding Strategies to Use with Your Students.

And also, here are a few more examples of This I Believe essays. I found these ones interesting because the first has to do with a dedication to education, and the second has to do with reading (which I think we all enjoy, to an extent). If you’re interested, I would recommend browsing the website a bit. I also included a link to the topic section titled education and knowledge. Quite a few of those essays are worth a read.

Standing Up for Our Children (a This I Believe essay)

The Joy and Enthusiasm of Reading (a This I Believe essay)

Education & Knowledge section


Thanks for reading guys.

Until next time,

Katie E.


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