Scaffolding Part One: Article Review of Scaffolding Instruction for English Language Learners: A Conceptual Framework By: Aida Walqui
Article Title: Scaffolding Instruction for English Language Learners: A Conceptual Framework
Author: Aida Walqui
Journal: The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, Vol. 9, No.2, 2006
Web Link: http://www.educacion.gob.es/exterior/centros/losangeles/es/series/201003-Scaffolding-Walqui.pdf
Aida Walqui’s article Scaffolding Instruction for English Language Learners: A Conceptual Framework, was written primarily for secondary ELLs, however can be adapted to elementary teaching. Walqui’s thesis states that ELLs can both learn content and succeed with high-level academic work when the teacher knows how to support them (p. 159). The article focuses on the use of scaffolding and how to build students’ confidence to be successful with high level and challenging work. Scaffolding provides built in supports as students progress through the work (p. 177). The article’s key points include; encouraging the use of many scaffolds, telling students the reasoning for scaffolds, identifying that ELLs may need more tasks than native English speakers to achieve learning and although, it may take longer to scaffold and less content is being taught, the results show students have a better foundation and depth to their learning (p.178). Walqui says that teachers need to know what they teach and use many scaffolds, as well as, have teacher training for teaching ELL (p. 177-178). Included in the research is a look at Sociocultural Theory (SCT) originated by Lev Vygotsky. SCT states that learning needs to come before the development of the learning, and in turn challenge learners to be working ahead of their level (p. 161). As part of SCT, Vygotsky’s concept of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) is discussed where effective learning takes place between where the level the learner is at and what their ability for development is (p. 162). Vygotsky’s research is used as a way to support scaffolding and the rigorous structuring that goes into planning, and is used to present that students can complete challenging work when structures are in place that keep the learning a ahead of their level, yet within the ZPD. The article details scaffolding and includes types of scaffolding to use with ELLs and examples. Scaffolding steps included in the article are; modeling, bridging, contextualizing, scheme building, re-presenting text and developing metacognition.
In my own classroom practice I have used scaffolding quiet successfully and agreed with the research in Walqui’s article. I liked how useful the information was and how it was written in a way that supports those, who already scaffold, to enhance their practice. Three points specifically provided me with a clearer understanding of scaffolding and ideas on further developing my classroom practice. First the concept of using scaffolding as ‘confidence’ building, was something I naturally understood scaffolding to do, but did not consciously think about in my planning. By consciously thinking about confidence building in my scaffolding planning I think my lessons will become more tightly planned and provide an even clearer focus and keep my students a step ahead of their level. Secondly, to become transparent in my reasoning for using scaffolding with my students, to explain to them the process and why I am having them do what I am doing. I found at the end of last year when I introduced my peer tutors it was a very supportive to have them explain my reasoning for lessons and activities. I can see how providing my rational/objective to my students could help them as they work through assignments. Often times when I have been the learner, I would have liked to know the reasoning behind a task. Walqui’s writing has affected how I view my students, and to respect their potential desires to know the reason behind my planning. Finally, Walqui’s article has confirmed for me a concept I have believed, yet not had research to back my opinion. I have always felt it is better to take the time and really learn a concept through structured-scaffold-learning so that students build a solid foundation and have a greater depth to their learning, apposed to focusing heavily on content for the sake of content. Content knowledge can be picked up, but structured learning and having a solid foundation is the key to success and what they take with them for their whole lives as they encounter many different forms of content.
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