“Read this passage”, said the teacher, “answer the questions that follow, and submit it in one hour.” While some teachers follow this, there are others who break up the content into smaller parts, preview the text and discuss keywords and then read and discuss as they go. In the second approach what the teacher does is scaffolding.
Effective communication requires good reading comprehension skills, understanding of basic grammar, common questions, key phrases, and vocabulary. The National Reading Panel, USA, identified vocabulary as one of the five major components of reading. It is an essential component of school success and more specifically reading comprehension. The NRP says that vocabulary plays an important role both in learning to read and in comprehending a text.
One of the successful ways to check for understanding while students read a chunk of difficult text is to share a new idea from the reading, then pause, and then ask a question, pausing again. You need to create the questions in advance, making sure they are specific, guiding, and open-ended.
As there are diverse learners in our classrooms, there is a strong need for us to learn and experiment with new scaffolding strategies. We have to slow down in order to go quickly. It may take a longer time to teach, but the end product is of greater quality and the experience much more rewarding for the students.
Questioning and language engagement enhance students’ word knowledge. Students are more likely to learn the meaning of the new words when teachers highlight targeted vocabulary through questioning.
Researches show that pre-schoolers made greater gains in word learning when teachers initially asked low-demand questions and gradually increased the complexity of the questions to the high-demand level.
Vocabulary instruction helps students learn the meanings of many words so they can communicate effectively and achieve academically. This requires educators to intentionally provide a lot of opportunities for students to learn new words, related concepts, and their meanings to develop their word knowledge, and acquire a toolbox of strategies to help their independent word acquisition.