Scaffolding & PBL

Scaffolding in Project Based Learning can be defined as the support provided and the clear expectations that are set so that project goals can be accomplished. In Project Based Learning, the best projects use scaffolding in order to keep the project and students organized.  When students are well prepared and given guidance, projects are most successful.  The difficulty with scaffolding is providing direction, yet also giving the students the ability to show some initiative, creativity, and resourcefulness. McKenzie (1999) states that there are eight characteristics of educational scaffolding:

  1. Scaffolding provides clear directions.
  2. Scaffolding clarifies purpose.
  3. Scaffolding keeps students on task.
  4. Scaffolding offers assessment to clarify expectations.
  5. Scaffolding points students to worthy sources.
  6. Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment.
  7. Scaffolding delivers efficiency.
  8. Scaffolding creates momentum.

Scaffolding provides clear directions

As instructors create projects for project based learning, they have to try and anticipate any problems or difficulties that may arise.  The directions and plans for the project need to be clearly written so that students can efficiently move toward a productive learning experience.  Much thought needs to be put into the planning of the lesson so that the students know exactly what they need to do and what is expected of them.  As I have created my project “My Dream Playground,”  I have worked hard to think of every possible problem that may arise or issue that my students may encounter; however, since I have never planned a project of this magnitude, I am sure that there are things that I have missed.  I think that as long as the instructional designer has put a lot of thought into the project–the steps, directions, activities, and assessments, they will be well equipped to handle any potential problems and eliminate them either before the project begins or as the students work through the project.  

Scaffolding clarifies purpose

In project based learning, students are presented with the purpose of their project as soon as the driving question and entry event take place.  The students know why they are taking part in this project and the project has meaning because they know they are presenting it to a wider audience beyond their teacher and class.  In project based learning, each task builds on the prior tasks.  Each lesson and activity in “My Dream Playground” builds on the next in order for the students to complete their final presentation and reach the ultimate goal of coming up with a feasible playground for the school.     

Scaffolding keeps students on task

A timeline or calendar keeps students on task and helps guide the project along.  Students know what is expected and when it is expected so that they are not wandering in all different directions.  In “My Dream Playground,” the students will be provided with a calendar of events so that everyone knows the timeline for when different parts of the project are due.  In addition, with each major portion of the project, students will be given guidelines or rubrics for what is expected of them.  They may go about accomplishing the steps of the project in different ways, but they are all given the same guidelines to follow so that they can stay on track.

Scaffolding offers assessment to clarify expectations

In the beginning of scaffolded projects, students are provided rubrics, standards, and examples in order to define excellent work.  For my project, students will be provided rubrics for their oral presentation, 3D model, and peer evaluations.  Expectations and a sample of quality work will be provided from the start, and students will continually meet with the teacher throughout the project.

Scaffolding points students to worthy sources    

In a scaffolded project, the teacher undertakes the preliminary research.  Realizing that the internet lacks credible sources, the teacher picks the best sources in order to help students accomplish their task.  Depending on the teacher, students might have to use the resources provided by the teacher or they may use those sources as a springboard to further their research.  In “My Dream Playground,” I will provide the students with four sites they can use to research the size and cost of playground equipment and playground surfaces.  They will be allowed to look for other resources, but not spend too much unnecessary time on this.  If they choose to use a different resource, they will need to obtain teacher approval before using it.

Scaffolding reduces uncertainty, surprise, and disappointment.

Instructors are expected to test each aspect of a scaffolded project to anticipate anything that might go wrong.  This will eliminate any student frustration as the project progresses and maximize student learning.  After students have completed the project, lessons may be further refined.  Each aspect of the “My Dream Playground” project has been carefully scrutinized so that the lessons and activities run smoothly for the students.  It is hard to anticipate every roadblock so changes will most likely be made during and after the project has been completed.  

Scaffolding delivers efficiency

Project based learning is very involved.  However, when properly scaffolded, students are focused, have clear expectations, and remain on task.  The “My Dream Playground” project has been carefully planned with a clear timeline.  Each lesson builds on the next leading up to the final presentation.  

Scaffolding creates momentum

The entry event, driving question, and its subquestions will create a great deal of excitement and momentum for the project.  They draw the students’ attention into the project and set the wheels in motion in order to motivate the students to project completion.  

McKenzie, J. (1999, December). Scaffolding for Success. In From Now On. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from


Initial Thoughts on Social Media

This week I began a course on Social Network Learning.  We were assigned to join a class Facebook page, Twitter, DIIGO, and set up a blog.  Joining the class Facebook page was the easiest.  I have been on Facebook for many years and have found that it is easy to use its features.  From there, my level of familiarity with the rest of the social networks diminished.  I’ve had a Twitter account since 2013, but have pretty much used it to follow famous people, music groups, TV shows, and some members of the education profession. I have never Tweeted anything of my own before and barely opened the app let alone set up a Tweetdeck.  I  previously set up a DIIGO account and WordPress blog during my first EDTECH class at Boise State.  I have been using my WordPress blog throughout my coursework at Boise State.  I think it is pretty easy to use, but sometimes its limitations can be frustrating.  DIIGO is the tool that intimidates me the most.  Apparently I also set it up in my EDTECH 501 class, but I have rarely used it since.  By sitting and watching the tutorial videos under module one for this class, I think that I have much to learn about this tool.

I think that social media is an excellent tool to use for professional development and I wish I would use it more.  I have liked and followed a few educational technology groups in Facebook and educational technology professionals in Twitter, but I don’t feel like  I use the tools to their fullest extent.  I will occasionally click on one of their articles or links if they look interesting, but typically gloss through them.  Sometimes the amount of information overload that is out there can be overwhelming and I feel that I do not have the time to sift through it all.  It is more helpful for me to seek out particular information and topics as needed.  This may not be the best method, but it works for me at this time.

I have never used social media as an instructional strategy with my students.  It is something that I have thought about pursuing, but I haven’t figured out how to effectively use these tools with them.  I know that many of the students use social media on their personal devices, but I worry about how to use the tools with them in school.  I have not figured out how to safely set them up with accounts especially since many of these tools have age limits above the age of my students.   I also worry that even though I teach digital citizenship and we have acceptable use policies in place, the students will use these tools incorrectly and both they and I will get in trouble with parents and administration.

In this  EDTECH 543 course, it is my goal to develop relevant professional learning networks using social networking.  I would like to be able to organize the information from these professional learning networks so that it is meaningful and not so overwhelming.  I’d like to be able to use what  I have learned and share it with my colleagues at my school so that they can build professional learning networks  of their own.  I would also like to learn how to use social networks in the classroom.  There is a wealth of information and knowledgeable people out there and I would love to be able to show my students how to use these tools effectively as they move through their educational experiences.

Digital Divide/Digital Inequality

For the past few weeks I have spent some time reading about the issues of digital divide and digital inequality. Digital divide and digital inequality are two separate factors that impact our society.  Digital divide refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology and those that do not or have restricted access.   The technology applies to landline telephones, cellular phones and services, television, computers, tablets, and the internet.  Digital inequality moves beyond an inequality in access to technology and encompasses inequality among people with access to technology.  Digital inequality includes people with lack of technical ability, lack of interest or computer literacy, and those who cannot afford it.

We rely on technology more and more each day. We cannot take for granted that everyone in society has the access to technology and knows the most effective way to use it. Even though a gap still exists between technology users, it is shrinking.  The next step is to provide users with the equipment and skills they need to use this technology.  Without this, the gap of digital inequality will widen.  With the knowledge I have gained from my readings, I will better be able to identify areas of digital inequality in my school  and address them according to the AECT Code of Professional Ethics.

After reading about these issues, I used the presentation tool Haiku Deck to explain the issues of digital divide and digital inequality and factors that create digital inequality at the school where I am the technology coordinator.  Please click on this link to view my presentation.  I have created many presentations in PowerPoint, but by using Haiku Deck, I learned new methods for making them more effective.  My takeaway from this project was to keep my slides simple, limit the number of images, use keywords, and break up information into multiple slides.  If I had more time to work on this artifact, I would have broken up my issues of digital inequality and my solutions for these problems even further into more slides.  In order to elicit a discussion from the audience, I  would have asked more questions of the viewer on the solutions slides. Finally, I might have also come up with some catchier titles on my slides and incorporated some of my own images rather than stock photos.  I plan on having my junior high students use Haiku Deck for a future project so that they can become accustomed to creating and giving a more effective presentation.



Welcome to my Learning Log.  As I travel on my journey through the EDTECH program at Boise State, I will be adding examples of my work from each course. Along the way, I will also include reflections of what I have learned, my accomplishments and struggles, and how this journey has impacted my role as an educator.