Final Post for Paying Close Attention to Teaching with Intent


Photo credit: Ron Cogswell

OCM’s literacy teachers immersed themselves in dialogue, once again paying close attention to teaching with intent.  This time, literacy teachers shaped their own thinking by drawing upon their experiences and an article called Scaffolding Learning to answer the questions “Is learning a scaffold process? Which scaffolds increase student independence?” Scaffolding learning is essential for students’ optimum learning, reaching “all” learners, and much more, but if you’re not maximizing the use of scaffolds during your daily lessons, there’s a possibility you’re not in the zone of proximal development (ZPD) of your learners.   (As education researcher Eileen Raymond states, “[T]he ZPD is the distance between what children can do by themselves and the next learning that they can be helped to achieve with competent assistance.”) Let’s reflect upon the following questions, and decide which scaffolds increase student learning best:

  1. Which scaffolding strategy increases student independence?
    1. Demonstrating a task
    2. Hearing about a task
  2. Which scaffolding strategy is more helpful?
    1. Telling the students about your own knowledge of a topic
    2. Tapping into prior knowledge
  3. Which scaffolding strategy is crucial and must be done on a regular basis?
    1. Taking time to talk with a community of learners
    2. Taking time to reflect with oneself quietly
  4. Which scaffolding strategy is useful to lessen difficulty of challenging text?
    1. Introducing vocabulary words using photos or context they know
    2. Looking up vocabulary definitions using a dictionary
  5. Which scaffolding tools best help guide and shape students’ thinking?
    1. Graphic organizers, pictures, and charts (use of visual aids)
    2. Abstract thoughts and ideas from teachers and peers
  6. Which scaffolding technique is best considered as a check for understanding?
    1. Pause, ask questions, pause, review
    2. Say to class, “Did everyone get that?”

After spending time thinking about “best scaffolds that increase student learning,” compare your results.  Below you will find the answers to the questions:

1. a,   2. b,   3. a,   4. a,   5. a,   6. a

If you correctly responded to all questions, then you are an expert at scaffolding learning and maximizing student learning.  Thus, you believe learning is a scaffold process, which is one of many recurring concepts and themes from all the articles used that guided literacy teachers during our last four ongoing professional development sessions.  If your results reveal that, for the most part, you know how to successfully scaffold learning for your students, but you still have some room for improvement, then read Scaffolding Learning to further inform your understandings and insights into the nature of scaffolding learning.  Better yet, here are links to other articles used in other sessions: Explicit teaching as an ‘enabling’ literacy practice, Talking in class: remembering what is important about classroom talk.  Each article used spans a range of grade levels; they each have particular relevance for a rich exploration of what it means to teach with intent in order to promote powerful student learning outcomes across all grade levels.

This post concludes our focused topic:  Teach with Intent.  Paying close attention to this meaningful and relevant topic, overtime, assisted with promoting change in teachers’ literacy beliefs and practices to better support their teacher role: be intentional to shape students’ literacy minds.

View: Talking in Class

Frances Malavé
Literacy Department

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