On the first day after the long summer holidays, many classes write reports about their experiences. Armed with paper and pencil, some children dive straight into it, others are reluctant to start and think they will be finished after a few minutes.
Regardless of the children’s eagerness, most of the teachers’ hair stands on end when they read the reports of their experiences. There is no introduction, wrong sentence structure, insufficient spelling, always the same sentence beginnings, no real common thread, and no trace of a conclusion. So many problems that the teacher doesn’t know where to start.
Do you know the feeling? No wonder, because structured and creative writing is a demanding task. It is precisely this reason why creative writing is seen as a challenging discipline in the English language.
But help is at hand, and it comes from the so-called "scaffolding".
In language didactics, the term scaffolding is used in connection with differentiated supportive tasks. This means that the learners are accompanied in their work with differentiated tasks. The tasks form a temporary scaffold to support the student that is no longer needed once routines have developed and techniques have been learned.
Scaffolds are beneficial in the classroom because ...
- … they give the students orientation and encourage the development/adherence to a common thread.
- … correct formulations, words and phrases become established through repeated practice.
- … students become familiar with the structure of all types of texts.
- … they can be used in a differentiated way.
- … they give all children more confidence during the writing process and thus increase motivation.
- …through these, all children can realise more complex language performances than they are capable of on their own.
What do such "scaffolds" look like in practical terms?
“Scaffolds are suitable for all types of texts. They can be printed out on a piece of paper and presented to the learners so that the scaffolds can be placed next to the writing during the writing process. Often, the text structure and text modules are provided.
The text structure helps the learner to understand what they actually have to do. This is formulated as a concrete instruction on what to write.
- Write down where you have been on holiday.
- Write down who you went on holiday with
- At the end, write a comment about how you enjoyed your holiday.
The text modules show the learner how to do this. These offer appropriate phrases, sentence starters, words, parts of speech or complete sentences. They can be “ready-made” linguistic devices that the students can adopt directly.
- I went/flew/travelled to … during the holidays in … week.
- My mother/father/brother/sister/siblings accompanied me.
- I particularly enjoyed my holidays because…
- I didn’t like this holiday so much because…
- Next time I wish that…
How can I use scaffolds in a differentiated way?
Since not all children need the same amount of support in the writing process, “scaffolds” can be used in a differentiated way. Stronger pupils can, for example, only look at the text structure and cover up the part with the text modules by folding the paper. For children with increased support needs, the text modules can be given in great detail and an additional scaffold with detailed vocabulary can be created.
Example of an additional "vocabulary scaffold" for a picture story
In our Webinar on a picture story with Writing Lab, Jasmin shows pratically how a picture story can be carried out with the help of “scaffolds”.
As soon as the pupils are confronted with such “scaffolds” again and again over a longer period of time, they will internalise text structures, formulations and idioms. And suddenly, no more hair will have to stand on end, because the pupils will have become competent writers thanks to these aids.
Would you like to use a “scaffold” in class right away? Click here for a Word template for a holiday story that you can adapt to your needs.