How Scaffolding Works

ebook A Playbook for Supporting and Releasing Responsibility to Students

By Nancy Frey

cover image of How Scaffolding Works

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Provide the perfect structure and support to develop student independence.

Effective scaffolding leads to learner autonomy—but too many educators have been airlifting students to right answers, perpetuating a generation who don't know how to learn. Yes, we know the sweet spot for learning involves giving our students the right blend of productive failure and productive success, but how to do it is cloaked in misconceptions.

How Scaffolding Works unveils the essential moves and methods. Ten interactive modules help every K-12 educator structure support in new ways, including knowing how to:

  • Gradually release responsibility to students through intentional and purposeful scaffolding
  • Design lessons and experiences that attend to the affective, metacognitive, and cognitive aspects of learning
  • Collect data before, during, and after learning, so we can place, move, and take away scaffolds with greater intention
  • Promote independence with front-end scaffolds, distributed scaffolds, back-end scaffolds, peer scaffolds, and fading scaffolds
  • Use a blend of demonstration, modeling, coaching, explaining, questioning and choice
  • Promote purposeful practice—in which learners knows where they're going and how to get there
  • Perhaps we rush in to rescue learners because the world seems fraught; we want to help our students reach the safety of academic success. Our intentions are good, but it's time to step back, gradually and purposefully, and let them pilot their own learning.

    How Scaffolding Works