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Scaffolding Instruction Scaffolding Instruction

What is scaffolding instruction? Importance to MLs SupportEd’s approach

A scaffold is a temporary support teachers provide Multilingual Learners (MLs), so MLs can perform a task they are learning to perform independently. The ultimate goal of scaffolding is for MLs to be able to complete a similar task independently without the scaffold.

Scaffolds can help make rigorous grade-level curriculum accessible for MLs. Selecting the appropriate scaffolds is key to supporting MLs in being able to successfully engage with and complete the academic task. These instructional scaffolds can be grouped into three categories: materials, practices, and groupings.

In order to select appropriate scaffolds, you must know your MLs’ backgrounds, their strengths and needs, and understand the linguistic demands of the instructional tasks. SupportEd provides various solutions and practical tools to help build your understanding of scaffolds and how to use them to support your MLs’ content and language development. For a more detailed understanding of scaffolding for MLs, check out chapter 3 of of Unlocking English Learners’ Potential.

scaffolding instruction illustration

Printables Printables

Suggested Scaffolds at Each Proficiency Level Guidelines for Selecting the Right Scaffolds for Your ELs

All teachers who work with ELs need strategies and tools to support ELs in accessing challenging content and acquiring academic language. Our “Suggested Scaffolds at Each Proficiency Level” tool makes it easy to select appropriate scaffolding based on English language proficiency levels (ELP) so you can establish a framework for mapping your scaffolds to students’ ELP level.


Three Main Categories of Scaffolds for Your ELs

Once you have a foundation of EL scaffolds, it’s important to consider different scaffolding categories to maximize the ways in which your ELs can benefit. Use our “Categories of Scaffolds and Examples” graphic to break down the three main categories of EL scaffolds and incorporate some of our examples into your instruction.


A Checklist for Incorporating Scaffolds into Instruction

Helping your ELs thrive academically and personally requires more than knowing and selecting appropriate scaffolds. It’s important to think deeply about the best ways to incorporate those scaffolds into your instruction so you and your colleagues can set goals for encouraging EL success. Our “Scaffolded Lesson Planning Checklist” provides considerations and guidelines in doing so.


May 2019 Webinar Findings and SupportEd’s Tips in Response to Educators’ Questions

This infographic shares insights into nationwide challenges of making text accessible to ELs and strategies for making complex text more accessible to our ELs.


6 Steps to Consider When Supporting ELs in Accessing Complex Texts

Making text accessible to our ELs can be quite the challenge, and finding a starting point can be even more difficult. Are you leveraging strategies and resources to maximize support and provide your ELs an equitable education experience? This sketch note share six steps to consider when supporting ELs in accessing complex, grade level text. Click here to read our corresponding blog post that details each step and explores specific examples to help support your ELs in accessing the texts you choose.


Books Books

Unlocking English Learners’ Potential Unlocking English Learners’ Potential

Content teachers and ESOL teachers, take special note: if you’re looking for a single resource to help your English learners meet the same challenging content standards as their English-proficient peers, your search is complete. Just dip into this toolbox of strategies, examples, templates, and activities

Self-Paced Learning Self-Paced Learning

Unlocking English Learners’ Potential

Online Book Study


Scaffolding Content Instruction for ELs

Online Course


Strategies for Making Content Accessible to ELs

Online Course

Self-paced Collaborative Course from SupportEd supports scaffolding instruction, academic language, and oral language development: Strategies for Making Content Accessible for ELs

Webinars Webinars

5 Practical Steps to Scaffold Lessons for English Learners 5 Practical Steps to Scaffold Lessons for English Learners

Do you often struggle with how to include English Learners (ELs) in meaningful ways in your instruction? Would you like to add some new tools to your toolbox to better support your ELs? This edWebinar provides a practical five-step framework and multiple strategies that you can use immediately to scaffold lessons for ELs so that they can engage with challenging grade-level content. You will leave the recorded presentation with:

  • Knowledge of how scaffolded instruction supports ELs’ language development and acquisition of complex content
  • A five-step framework to guide you in designing scaffolded content lessons to support ELs
  • Practical, implementable strategies for scaffolding content instruction for ELs of varying proficiency levels.

Presenters: Diane Staehr Fenner, and Heather Anderson, 2016 Oregon Teacher of the Year. Hosted by Tatum Moser

Articles Articles

Partner Resources Partner Resources

Scaffolding Instruction for English Learners

A Q&A with Diane Staehr Fenner by

5 Practical Steps to Scaffold Lesson for English Learners

Webinar Recap by Lily Jones