Sample Education Papers on Providing Instructional Supports

Providing Instructional Supports

Initial Thoughts

            Before delving into the course, I reflected about scaffolding: what it means, what it entails, and its advantages. While I could not muster up the precise definition of the term, I believed that scaffolding is aimed at providing students, especially those that have learning difficulties, a teacher-assisted transition from copying what the teacher is doing to performing work steps on their own. In a scaffolding class, teachers are more interested in helping the students understand content, not just to pass examinations. This implies that instructional scaffolding is more of a guided practice than a teaching session. However, for it to be successful, the student needs to have proper observation and decision making skills.

            Scaffolding starts with a teacher describing and modeling the concepts several times, and letting the students to copy from him/her. After some time, the teacher will play a backseat and let the students demonstrate the concepts on their own. Usually, a teacher will start relatively easy concepts before delving into complicated concepts. This enables the students to build on what they have to gain new knowledge. As the students gain additional knowledge, the level of difficulty increases. To ensure that the students are not overwhelmed, the teacher gives the students an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarification. He/she then provides instant feedback. This process will continue until the students show that they have completely understood what is being taught and are confident on applying the skills they have acquired.

            There are several advantages of instructional scaffolding. First, it keeps the students focused. Since the teachers are responsive to each need, the students are able to remain engaged and motivated to carry out their tasks. The friendly nature of the approach does not scare them even if the content is difficult. Second, it reduces student’s anxiety. Many students with learning problems are always reluctant to go to class. Most are afraid of learning new materials since they believe that they would not grasp them. However, scaffolding addresses this anxiety since students know that they would not be taken through a complex task before they are ready. Teacher responsiveness is also an assurance to most students. Third, it creates momentum since students who make mistakes are corrected in time. This significantly enhances their learning experience while increasing their chances of succeeding academically. Finally, it makes the classroom lively.


  1. What are the two critical elements to keep in mind when using instructional scaffolding?
    1. Modeling: For instructional scaffolding to be effective, it is essential that teachers model or illustrate each stage of a task or strategy several times for the students to copy. This will enable them to understand what is being taught as well as to perform the steps on their own. Knowing the importance of each step will increase their chances of academic success.
    1. Practice: Teachers have to give students an opportunity to carry out the tasks collaboratively, with both the teacher and other students (The IRIS Center, n.d).
  2. Briefly describe the three approaches to instructional scaffolding presented in this module.

Content Scaffolding

In this approach, the teacher selects relatively easy-to-grasp or familiar content for students who are studying a new skill. This will allow them to pay more attention on the skill being taught, as opposed to be frustrated with the content. There are three ways that teachers can apply this approach:

  1. Using well-known or fascinating content: In general, it is easier for students to grasp what they are being taught if the content is well known or is highly entertaining since they tend to have a higher motivation to learn. With time, a teacher will systematically introduce new content and asks the students to apply newly taught strategy to the content.
    1. Use easy content: This entails using content that was learned in a lower grade level to teach a new task or strategy. Once the students gain confidence in the new strategy, the teacher will increase the difficulty gradually. Through this way, students can focus on the strategy better.
    1. Start with straightforward steps: In this approach, a teacher models or illustrates the more complicated steps of a particular task and let the students carry out the easier steps. After some time, the teacher should let the students do the more difficult steps, especially after they have mastered the easy steps (The IRIS Center, n.d).

Task Scaffolding

This approach starts with the teacher indicating the steps involved in performing a particular task or instructional plan. Afterwards, he/she will demonstrate each of the steps while articulating the thought process involved. In essence, the teacher will be taking the students through the steps even though they will not contribute at this time. This will help the students to comprehend the steps on their own by imitating their teacher. Afterwards, they carry out the tasks on their own, with teacher supervising them and guiding them whenever they encounter problems. Since students may not understand the process at the first time, it is crucial that teachers illustrate the steps and tasks a number of times until the students can perform the tasks independently.

Material Scaffolding

            This approach involves using written prompts to assist the students carry out a task or apply a strategy. In doing so, the teacher can use cue sheets or guided illustrations that list the necessary steps while carrying out a task. With time, the teacher will phase out the prompts, depending on how fast the students grasp the steps.

  1. List at least two reasons why error detection and correction is important.
  2. It helps students to comprehend what they are supposed to do since if an error is not detected and corrected in time, students will imitate the inaccurate approach. As a result, they will have difficulties doing the right thing afterwards.
  3. It helps students to understand that it is all right to make a mistake, as long as know the reasons that led to the mistake and the ways of correcting it.
  4. Imagine you are a fourth-grade teacher and one of your students, who has a learning disability, is experiencing difficulty with long division:
    1. Which of the approaches discussed in this module would you use to scaffold instruction for this student?

The approach that I would use is task scaffolding.  

  • Why did you choose this approach?

Since the student has learning difficulties, it would be better to demonstrate the long division step by step, several times, before giving him examples to try out on his/her own as I help him/her. Content scaffolding might be inappropriate because I cannot foresee any fascinating or familiar content when it comes to long division. Material scaffolding will not work because the student has obvious learning difficulties that prevent him/her from studying materials on their own.

  • Give a detailed description of how you would use this approach to scaffold instruction for this student.

Before students reach the stage of learning long division, they must have previously been taught short division. Short division is easier than long division. First, I would start with performing short division sums and demonstrating the process to him. To make it easy, I would start with sums involving even numbers since they are relatively easy to perform. Second, I would give him/her problems involving even numbers. Third, I would perform and demonstrate short divisions involving odd numbers. Fourth, after he has understood divisions involving odd numbers, I would teach him divisions with prime numbers. Afterwards, I will give him tasks comprising all types of numbers. I would try to increase the value of the quotient with each sum as a way of increasing complexity. Thereafter, I would introduce him to long division. I would begin with simple divisor 11 and two-digit quotients. I would then increase the value of quotients gradually. After he has mastered long division involving 11, I would take him through other two-digit divisors. To make it easier, I will also select two-digit quotients. Finally, I will increase the value of quotients.


The IRIS Center (n.d). Providing Instructional Supports: Facilitating Mastery of New Skills. Retrieved 1 November 2014 from