There are many ways to implement scaffolding at school and at home – it’s an inherently flexible format that allows for much creativity when creating learning environments. Here are a few examples of what we do regularly to give our students the best platform to climb on.

1. Brainstorming
Using a central idea, students at Alexander Academy have the opportunity to expand on an idea by adding detail, new concepts and challenging vocabulary. Naturally, this format of organizing thoughts first draws upon the student’s own knowledge before then building on it. Sound familiar? That’s right! We use this as a way to set the Zone of Proximal Development. A discussion about plants could go as far as leaves or dive into the scientific depths of photosynthesis, mitochondria, and stomata.

2. Role Play
We use role play to give real context to the lessons and language we teach: it forms a fundamental part of the curriculum. the free nature of role play allows our students to create their own phrases and do what is most challenging: speak freely but relevantly in a given scenario. The role of our teachers in motivating, providing target language and building independence in this exercise creates a challenging but supported setting where language development thrives.

3. Worked Examples
In technical subjects like grammar and spelling, our teachers often use worked examples to apply rules to real writing. After being shown, step-by-step, how to identify and rectify errors, students are gradually encouraged to correct work themselves. A standard of checking and being able to right one’s own writing sets the bar high.

4. Outlines & Rubrics
Our writing project format ensures that students plan their work on a regular basis. For them, this is the scaffold from which to build their writing and, to improve it. Teachers use rubrics so students can isolate their strengths and weaknesses. By encouraging planning, we give each child a basic format to expand from: where they take it is up to them. Combined with feedback from their rubrics, kids are able to build on their ideas, make them more complex and think critically about how to reach higher level language goals.

These are just a handful of scaffolding techniques we use on a regular basis at Alexander Academy. On any given day, we are building on these techniques, using others and figuring out ways to continue to challenge our students as they build their English language skyscraper!