Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Diverse Learners.

Examine the Topic

Students with diverse backgrounds and learning needs require support in learning and applying strategies for reading and writing. This support is critical for successful learning and for developing the motivation necessary to succeed. Read the following statements on scaffolded instruction. Think about how these statements relate to your own classroom instruction, and any questions you have about teaching diverse learners.

Scaffolding is a way of actually helping students understand what it is you want them to know and do and to rehearse it along with you from the point of doing very little--they're observing, watching you as the expert and they are the novice--to taking on more and more responsibility, to a point where they are working on their own. By the time they get to do it on their own in the scaffolded process, they have some idea of what's expected and what to look for.

--Kathryn Au

Children often need concentrated instructional support when they need to learn important skills and strategies that they would have difficulty discovering on their own. The gradual release of responsibility model offers such support. In general, the model describes a process in which students gradually assume a greater degree of responsibility for a particular aspect of learning. During the first stage, the teacher assumes most of the responsibility by modeling and describing a particular skill or strategy. In the second stage, the teacher and students assume joint responsibility; children practice applying a particular skill or strategy, and the teacher offers assistance and feedback as needed. Once students are ready, instruction moves into the third stage, in which students assume all, or almost all, of the responsibility by working in situations where they independently apply newly learned skills and strategies. This gradual withdrawal of instructional support is also known as scaffolded instruction because 'supports' or 'scaffolds' are gradually removed as students demonstrate greater degrees of proficiency.

Mazzoni, S. and L. Gambrell. "Principles of Best Practice: Finding the Common Ground." In Best Practices in Literacy Instruction, 15. New York: Guilford Press, 2003.

At any point in time, teachers should scaffold instruction enough so that students do not give up on the task or fail at it, but not scaffold so much that students do not have the opportunity to actively work on the problem themselves.

Adapted from Clark, K. and M. Graves. "Scaffolding Students' Comprehension of Text." The Reading Teacher 58, no. 6 (March 2005): 571.


Consider how you scaffold reading and writing instruction. Then write your answers to the following questions:

  • What strategies do you demonstrate/model to assist students during reading and writing?
  • What kinds of support can you provide to students as they practice literacy strategies?
  • How does this support vary when working with your strong, grade-level, and struggling readers and writers?
  • How can you use the gradual release of responsibility model in your instruction across the curriculum?

Next > Grouping Diverse Learners

Session 7: Printouts | Assignments | Resources


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