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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recommended Book: The Construction Zone Building Scaffolds for Readers and Writers by Terry Thompson

"An invaluable tool that helps calibrate our teaching toward powerful student learning and independence" (Donalyn Miller). The Construction Zone will improve your use of instructional scaffolding as a literacy teaching strategy. Includes practical advice on focusing instruction, flexible teaching, effective feedback, and gradual release.

Preview the entire book online

Stenhouse Publishers writes, "Instructional scaffolding is an essential part of teaching literacy. But what is scaffolding exactly? What does it look like in a classroom, and how can we improve the ways we use it? Despite its prominence in the repertoire of teaching strategies, scaffolding remains a vague concept for many teachers."

In essence, scaffolding is the idea of supporting students as they build independence. In The Construction Zone, Terry Thompson identifies four critical processes to deepen your understanding and improve your practice of instructional scaffolding:
  • Finding and maintaining a specific focus
  • Practicing flexibility in planning and delivering instruction
  • Giving constructive feedback in response to student efforts
  • Monitoring to ensure that, in every moment, students are working at optimal levels of responsibility.
Thompson encourages teachers to enhance their use of the traditional gradual release process through five actionable steps: show, share, support, sustain, and survey, and in doing so provides procedures and techniques to help them establish and maintain strong scaffolds throughout the instructional day. The Construction Zone is written from the teacher's perspective and urges educators to fully embrace their role in the scaffolding process while staying mindful of the effect it has on students.  

About the Author 

Photo: Terry Thompson
Terry Thompson likes to help people. That's why he became a teacher, a literacy coach, and a psychotherapist. "I'm a helper. It's what I do, and it's the core of my personality. It makes sense, then, that I would gravitate toward a career that would allow me to help others. I see potential in children and do my best to help them believe in and cultivate that potential."

He received his bachelor's degree in elementary education from Lamar State College and his master's degree in counseling from Sam Houston State University. He has worked in elementary education for sixteen years in grade levels K through 5 as a classroom teacher, Reading Recovery teacher, basic skills teacher, reading interventionist, state testing coordinator, and literacy coach. He is currently a full-time literacy coach for the pre-K through 5 Title I campus in north Houston. He travels regularly, giving presentations to literacy instructors, and maintains a private psychotherapy practice in Houston.

Source: EdWeek Update and Stenhouse Publishers

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