During my first year at Stanford Online High School (OHS), English class was very tough. Given an English award in my previous school, I felt overwhelmed when I received a bad score on my first OHS assignment. Being in a rigorous environment with gifted intellectuals was quite an adjustment.
My English teacher had high expectations, which was conveyed through her harsh grading. At first, I felt discouraged, but soon I started getting better with my analysis. Now, looking back, I realize that I learned a lot during that one year. Through my teacher, I was able to make a big jump in my learning.
Not only did my teacher help me improve, but my classmates did as well. My classmates shared creative ideas, and as the year progressed, I started formulating my ideas and learned to build off from others. One of my classmates in particular inspired me with her great vocabulary and well thought-out opinions with supporting evidence. Being placed in an intense learning environment helped me with my analysis and creativity.
Another resource available to me was the Writing Center. Through an online system, I booked appointments with teachers. While some helped me with structure and organization, others taught me to come up with more complex ideas.
My English improved immensely during my first year at OHS because of the scaffolding method. When no one in class knew the answer to a question, the teacher would ask more guiding questions. Then, the students would participate, each sharing their unique ideas and contributing to the discussion.
The method is not only used in my English class, but also in my science class. Instead of guiding questions from English class, Science is more about challenging problems.
Prior to science class, we read material to prepare ourselves for challenging practice problems in class. Firstly, the teacher asks us to solve a problem. After a few minutes of thinking time, some students express their ideas, but because there are many hard problems on the board, we aren’t always sure what to do. Therefore, the teacher does the problem, explaining step by step and relating it to the reading we did. If we don’t understand, we ask questions. Then, the teacher gives another similar problem for students to solve.
The teacher first walks us through the problems, like a bicycle with training wheels, but then we learn how to do the problems, like taking off the training wheels. By building off of the material we read prior to class, we are able to gain more knowledge through these difficult practice problems. This is the scaffolding method.
The scaffolding method promotes deeper learning by building off what you know and asking much harder questions. At first, it may be tough, but through these challenges, you gain knowledge and experience.