Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
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For the past couple of weeks I've been reading Terry Thompson's The Construction Zone: Building Scaffolds for Readers and Writers and reflecting on the work students and teachers do in classrooms everyday and how I support them as a technology integration specialist.
Here's how Terry talks about scaffolding, it's "...a pattern of teaching that shifts the level of responsibility for the learning from the more knowing other (you!) to the less knowing other (your student)." (p. 2)
Doesn't he make it sound simple? But it's so not. Teachers juggle so much and make countless decisions throughout the day. But the best teachers are able to break down their practice - reflect on what they do and why they do it. This is the art of teaching and Terry captures it so well.
"Teaching consciously is a practice - moment by moment, day by day. Just like our students, we learn from our success and our failures. Learning to craft effective scaffolds is an ongoing practice that starts now and grows from here. This is where we begin - teaching with intentionality and reflection, in full awareness of what we're doing and why." (p. 11)
In my work with teachers, I do my best to engage teachers in thoughtful conversations that help them think through where students are now, where we want students to go, and then we look at designing learning experiences to get them there. A focus on where we need to go and what the students really need is powerful because it makes it possible to see what is necessary and (hopefully) a little easier to shift because the students and their needs is at the center of it all.
Terry offers a close look at scaffolding and provides many examples and things to think through in order to best plan support for students that moves them towards independence. He also shares some ideas for questions to ask when planning and how to maintain a focus on students when designing lessons. Teaching is demanding on so many different levels but it's also important work and The Construction Zone is a perfect tool to keep moving practice forward.
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