Mr. Kamrowski

"Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children." –Sitting Bull

Improving Scaffolding Through Technolgy

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When teaching a new skill, it is essential to construct the learning experience in such a way as to reduce the complexity of the skill to a simple task or tasks that cannot be misconstrued.  This may include very specific directions and questions that guide the student as they perform the activity.  As mastery is achieved, the supports are taken away.  This process is known as instructional scaffolding and is the essence of teaching.

As I am now of the ranks of a Middle School educator, the topic of scaffolding has been rekindled as an interest of mine.  Specifically, the scaffolding of informational texts and writing tasks.  I have experimented with a great variety of form factors and tools.  Of course, my inner nerd is front and center and I have immersed the idea in technology to find a method that is effective for the student as well as efficient in practice.  The following is how and what I have created.  I welcome your input to improve these constructs.

The Tool of Choice

The tool I prefer to use in creating these  activities is, as has been for many of my ebook like creations, Google Slides.  I have explained my reasons for using this tool over others in the past; as well as how one could create a quick document with this tool.  To summarize, it is simple, efficient, and flexible.

How I’ve Scaffold

Using this format, I have scaffold readings of secondary sources (I.E. textbook passages, magazine articles, supplementary resources from website resources), primary sources, and writing activities.  The benefits of digital scaffolding have been:

  • The ability to cut and position pieces of a text into bite size chunks.  I do this by taking pictures or scanning the readings.  I then use the crop feature in Google Slides.
  • Insert questions, comments, or directives at a specific point in a text rather than at the end of the reading or writing.  This can be done by inserting text boxes and images to the side of the document.
  • Insert links or videos at specific points to serve as models, reminders, and review for specific reading and writing skills.
  • Export as a PDF to be viewed and annotated in an app like Notability (My preference), Explain Everything, or any number of PDF readers.
  • Share copies as a Google Slide that can be manipulated by students.
  • Submitted by students for review while also allowing them to retain a copy for their use.

Examples

Secondary Source Activity

Washington’s Presidency- Part 2

Primary Source Activity

Materials come from the great book:  Reading, Writing, and Thinking About History:  Teaching Argument Writing to Diverse Learners in the Common Core Classroom

#008 Shays Rebellion I READ

Writing Activity

Again, materials come from the great book:  Reading, Writing, and Thinking About History:  Teaching Argument Writing to Diverse Learners in the Common Core Classroom

#009 Shays Rebellion Writing

 

Question:  How have you used technology to scaffold?  How can I improve my scaffolds?  As always, thanks for leaving your comments and questions in the comment section.

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Author: Rob Kamrowski

My name is Rob Kamrowski and I have been a high school social study teacher of some years. Recently, I have accepted a position as an 8th grade American History teacher. I have taught a range of subjects from American History to Personal Finance to AP European History. I earned my Bachelor Degree in 2003, my Masters Degree in 2008, and strive to earn the respect of my students, colleagues and family every day of every year

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