Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scaffolding Supports

A post that Paul Bogush wrote last week continues to resonate with me. How do we reach those kids who experience school as a daily struggle, who are challenged by traditional methods of instruction that utilize a "one size fits all" approach to learning?
We spend a lot of time forcing kids to do things when they are not ready. Their first experience with a great many things is failure. I think teachers believe that it is just part of the process to fail something when you start, and slowly build up to success.
He shared how he helped his daughter learn how to ride her bike, initially holding the bike tightly then gradually reducing the amount of support he provided until support was no longer necessary. Within a short period of time, she felt completely confident and successful. I can envision her beaming with pride at her accomplishment. Paul used that experience to wonder,

Do teachers fall into two groups? One who never let go of their kids, and one that never holds on and lets them fall and expects them to get back up with out any help?

Can you imagine what it must be like to spend seven hours a day, everyday, in a place with people that label you a “D” or an “F,” a loser, a failure. Everyday entering a race and never winning, never even knowing what the race is for or which direction to run? And if you even decided one day to try your best you would still not be labeled a success?

His post emphasizes the importance of providing the right amount of scaffolded support to ensure the success of all the students in our classrooms, especially those who encounter daily struggles.
Over the weekend, I came across this video which perfectly juxtaposes with Paul's post. It is a wonderful example of what happens when we provide the tools necessary to ensure success. We may not identify the tools correctly the first time, but with our encouragement students (or baby squirrels!) may persist in spite of obstacles that seem impossible to overcome.


Lisa Parisi said...

I love the video and the analogy. I think it's also important to remember that the little squirrel might need all the supports for quite a while before he can get up the wall himself. We need to make sure we keep supports available as needed.

v said...

a study recently came out saying that movement helps all people concentrate better, but that ADHD students need it more. I've been talking with my students in the middle school about this, and they agree. Now the question is how to promote movement in a big class without distracting others. A minority of the students who are more suited to how school is now taught said they don't need movement at all to concentrate. I observed a very enthusiastic spec ed teacher promoting a movement activity at the 3-5 grad level where the students had to stand up. it was some sort of game (i just peeked in). but i also observed that while the students were standing, if they just happened to do a little extraneous movement, like rocking a little on their heels, they were quietly reprimanded for it. i didn't get it. they weren't distracting anybody. but in my ELL class of 10, i even allow 2 kids to pace at the back of the room if they want because it's the end of the day and i can see that they are dying to do it. if they are interested in my lesson and want to participate in our discussions or games, it is not a problem-they don't goof off. but if they are bored with what i'm doing, that might take out a ball or something and want to bounce it. so in my small class giving opportunities for lots of movement is not a problem if my lesson is also engaging. on the other hand, i have one student who, if the lesson is too fun, and we are all laughing and having a good time, he will spin out of control goofing off and having too much of a good time. anyway- any comments on any of this?

04 June, 2009 06:17

v said...
PS here's a link to the study i mentioned above

04 Ju

Karen Janowski said...

Thanks for commenting. What you've written supports the idea that one size does not fit all; depending upon what is asked of them, some students need a quiet environment, some students need activity, some students need movement, etc. You describe a student who has difficulty with self-regulation and you may want to use visuals, social stories, video modeling or another strategy to help him learn how to modulate his response. This is a vital life skill to learn.

v said...

could you give me an example of what you mean about how to help him learn how to modulate his response? i have 10 kids in one class who are ESL. how do i give the three who would probably prefer a quiet space a a quiet space and the ones who want to move around and talk and collaborate the opportunity to do that? really everyone is ok- it's just that one kid. he is very curious and does his own youtube research on things we are learning in class. he doesn't have a problem absorbing info. his problem is that he wants drama- especially cuz there is one girl in the class he has a crush on who doesn't feel the same. today was better since i was like a hawk monitoring them. thx for your input- i really appreciate more than you can know :)

Jim Walker said...

I used yoga in my middle school alternative class. Every morning the students would do some basic yoga postures for 15 minutes. Jumping for 2 minutes is another great activity to release pent up energy.

Karen said...

I think that was a really cute picture and i liked how the squirrel never gave up.
HI, my name is Karen too, which i think is cool, i am one of Mr. Bogush's students, he gave all of us a blog; here is mine, http://karen7.edublogs.org and here is the class one where you can get the other students blogs, http://pbogush.edublogs.org

In Mr. B's class it is more of those fun classes, you know the ones that every student loves. We have our laughs and our fair share of projects, as much as i hate all of the projects i think he has taught us that speaking in public is a big factor in life and it could happen at any moment in time. One day he made us look something up and find interesting things about it and we had to present it at the end of the period.

I really liked that video though, i think it does not have everything to do with what Mr. B wrote, i think it has to do with not giving up in general. Like how the bigger squirrel did not leave the small one, that shows friendship, and how the people helped the squirrel as well; that shows your parents and teachers how they offer help and at first you run from it but then you come back. i really liked this post and i hope you will visit my blog. :)

:) Karen :)