SIOP Feature #14:  Use scaffolding consistently throughout the lesson.

The fourth SIOP component, Strategies, looks at strategies from the learner's perspective and the teacher's perspective.  One of the most powerful strategies a teacher can use is breaking things down into digestible chunks for the students. This is called scaffolding.  There are many different models of scaffolding out there.  One of the most common is known as the gradual release of responsibility.  Scaffolding a lesson properly accomplishes a number of things:

  • Scaffolding increases student confidence.
  • Scaffolding increases student competence.
  • Scaffolding improves the pacing and efficiency of teaching and learning.
  • Scaffolding improves the teacher's understanding of the content better.

The authors of SIOP encourage teachers to scaffold consistently throughout the lesson.  This is important.  

Student holding pencil in classroom

What is the Gradual Release of Responsibility?

The Gradual Release of Responsibility is one of the most well-known models of scaffolding.  In this model, there are four stages in this model:

  1. Teacher does; students watch:  Here the teacher models for students, and the students get a chance to safely observe the whole process.  
  2. Teacher does; students help: During this step, the teacher invites students to help, but s/he is still doing most of the work.
  3. Students do; teacher helps:  At this stage, the teacher has students working with other students, offering his/her help as needed.
  4. Students do; teacher watches:  Finally, students are independently working, and the teacher is assessing their progress.
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