Scaffold Like an Ant- A simple scaffolding example

A simple but effective way to encourage deeper understanding

An Ethical Island

I am teaching a class where I allow the students a set amount of time to draw out what they know about a subject. Today, the students did their pre-class work, then came to class, and we began to draw things out. At first they look at me a little funny when I ask them to draw. Then, they dig in and explain what they think the subject is all about. Usually it takes about 25% of class time to get them through this phase. Today, they wanted to remain in this drawing/ scaffolding phase. They were going deeper than any class has ever gone in their reasoning and understanding of a difficult subject. It was pretty cool.

Here is what I do in my classes… (the ant is an analogy, I don’t get to teach about ants).

Ant Scaffolding

What would you add?


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Providing students with Deeper Learning Opportunities.

If, like me, you have been fortunate enough to attend a conference where Dr Ross Todd has been speaking, you will be au fait with the term “deeper learning”. Deeper knowledge and deeper understanding formed the basis of his presentation early in 2012 at our SLAV conference.

He has been an advocate for many years and offered many approaches, both small and more dramatic, to assist teacher librarians via “guided inquiry” to become the go-to people in their school. He tries to assist us in understanding the complexities of Guided Inquiry. The speaks about us helping students go beyond simply transporting information from one format to another to students transforming information into something new and meaningful to them.

The first is low level work and little or no effort is required. The second is high level work. Students will have to interpret data, establish a personal conclusion and reflect on what it all means. Transferring information into a more meaningful context means taking ownership and leads to deeper learning. The student will have changed the information according to the needs, understandings and prior knowledge of that student.

The curriculum and the tasks set by the teacher has a big role in developing this ability in students. Ross Todd has always advocated for teacher librarians to roll up their collective sleeves and assist teachers to develop the curriculum tasks that do this very thing.

We are a notebook school and teachers are expected to use the digital resources available in the best possible ways and therefore I was interested in the inforgraphic created by the people at Getting Smart. They write about learning (ranging pre-school to post school education) in the digital environment. They have a number of resources to help those in education  but the one I was looking at recently was the following paper that can be downloaded and is worth a read. The ideas would not be new to many but are well put:

“How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning” by Carri Schneider and Tom Vander Ark is a white paper that examines how key aspects of personal digital learning – common standards, next-generation assessments, blended learning, and affordable devices – can provide deeper learning opportunities for students.

They also created this accompanying infographic  ” that describes how deeper learning opportunities can be created for every student with personal digital learning tools”.