Scaffolding for Reading
Providing Support Through the Reading Process

Mary Lou McCloskey, Ph.D. email

1. Language Experience. After a discussion of a shared or recalled experience, have students dictate a narrative as you write it on a chart, projected computer screen, or transparency. With the students, edit the text, using opportunities to teach language structures and conventions of print. Then duplicate copies of the text for students to use as reading texts and as the basis for a series of follow-up activities, including practice with phonics, language structures, comprehension, independent reading, and creative expression.

2. Read Aloud. After developing schema and background, introduce a text by reading it aloud to students. You may choose to read through the text the first time for flow. Then stop to ask and answer questions when needed during the second and subsequent repetitions. Ask students which words they don't understand and provide pictures, translations, or definitions as needed. Read Aloud is a good way to make students familiar with the text to prepare them for other kinds of reading. It also provides a model for pronunciation, phrasing and expression.

3. Graphic Organizers. Use pictures or designs with graphics to outline text and to illustrate principles within a text. The storyboard, story map, character web, time lines, Venn diagram, ranking ladder and many others can be used effectively. After you have demonstrated and taught graphic organizers, encourage students to develop their own to learn from what they have read and to prepare to write.

4. Partner Read-Aloud. Students read in pairs. They are seated next to one another and facing each other. Students read aloud to one another in turn. The listener follows along in the text. If needed, the reader can ask the listener for help with a difficult text.

5. Choral Reading. In choral reading students have their own copies of a text. They all read together. Often the teacher or a student stands in front of the class to lead the oral reading. When reading dialogues, plays, or stories with dialogue, different groups often read different parts of the text. Assessment suggestion: After students are comfortable with a text, have a student lead the choral reading and walk around the room, standing behind individuals as they read. Note their progress on self-stick notes for individual folders or on a class checklist.

6. Shared Reading. After initial read-aloud, the class or group reads together from a shared text -- in a big book, on the OHP, or on a chart. Texts usually have elements of rhyme, rhythm and repetition and are re-read many times. Teachers use the content of the text to discuss ways to unlock meaning from text, literary concepts, background or content-area concepts, vocabulary, grammar, and conventions of print.

7. Reciprocal Teaching. In this form of paired or group reading, readers participate in a dialogue about the text. Each person takes a turn as "teacher," reading a short passage and asking questions about it to the group. Turns may rotate after a paragraph or a longer section. In preparation for Reciprocal Teaching, students are taught strategies of summarizing, clarifying, question-generating, and predicting. Teachers model the "teacher role." Then the student "teacher" uses these strategies in questioning and leading the group discussion.

8. Guided Reading. The teacher works with a small group of students who have similar reading processes. Books are carefully leveled. Teachers select and introduce new books and support students as they read the whole text to themselves. Based on close observation of students' reading, teachers make relevant teaching points during and after the reading.

9. Choice Silent Reading. Provide time, materials, instruction, and structure for students to independently choose read books at their comfort reading level. In the beginning, students may choose wordless books, class-made books, picture books, books in their first languages, or audiotapes. With success, support and guidance, they will move on to more and more challenging texts and begin to love to read.

10. Jigsaw Reading. Teacher divides a long reading into sections. One or two individuals in a group read each section and prepare to teach it to the group. When the group meets, each individual teaches the group about the section he/she read. Teacher uses a "group quiz" or the "numbered heads together" cooperative learning strategy to assure group responsibility for the content and to assess comprehension.

11. Intensive reading: Marking a text. Students are directed to read a text several times, each time for a different purpose. Teachers can draw students' attention to literary elements, features of the sound/symbol system, patterns of language, conventions of print, elements of comprehension.

12. Instructional Conversations. Through a challenging but non-threatening process, teachers help students learn to discuss readings at a high level. Teachers provide background knowledge, teach skills or concepts when necessary, and promote students' use of text, pictures and reasoning to support arguments or positions about text. In the process, teachers ask many open-ended questions, respond to student insights and ideas, and encourage students to take turns with one another, with the teacher as a senior participant in the discussion.