Archive for November 15th, 2011

The importance of scaffolding instruction

Posted on November 15, 2011. Filed under: Classroom environment, Elementary math, Guided math, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , |

Don’t take the ball from the person that has it.

Often times when I am in a classroom I see teachers ask a student a question and then when they don’t know the answer, they take the ball away.  They take the ball out of the hands of the person that has it when they say things like “who can help” or  “who else wants to answer.”   I’m always saying, “Don’t take the ball from the person who has it.”

Imagine if a coach grabbed the ball from the girl who couldn’t kick or the guy who couldn’t make a basket everytime and just said, “Oh, somebody else do it.”  “Who can do it that knows how?”  Coaches don’t do this.  Coaches let the person who has the ball keep it and keep at it.  Teachers should do the same.  We all have to learn how to coach kids better at math.  We do a pretty good job at it in reading.  But we tend to drop the ball when it comes to math!

We let the person keep the ball by scaffolding the questioning.  So for example, if we say how do I write 335 in expanded form and a student writes a 3 goes in the hundreds space – then our next move would be to scaffold it.  We might even ask is it a 3 or a 30 or a 300? ( You have to make some crucial decisions because you don’t want to overscaffold either).  We don’t take the ball and say “Who wants to help Andy?”  We have to help Andy! We’re the teachers.  SCAFFOLD, SCAFFOLD, SCAFFOLD.   GREAT SCAFFOLDS COME IN THE FORM OF QUESTIONS, GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS, CONCRETE MATERIALS AND VERBAL CUES. (TO NAME A FEW).

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki



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