Scaffolding to Support English Language Learners in a Kindergarten Classroom

Scaffolding to Support English Language Learners in a Kindergarten Classroom

Luciana C. de Oliveira (Columbia University, USA), Marshall Klassen (Purdue University, USA) and Alsu Gilmetdinova (Purdue University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4928-6.ch001
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Abstract

This chapter presents a case study of a kindergarten classroom and examines how a kindergarten teacher uses scaffolding to diversify instruction in the classroom to support ELLs. The authors focus on the scaffolding resources used to support learning and describe the kinds of support provided and opportunities for students created so they can use their developing language in class with the teacher and classmates. The authors identify planned and interactional scaffolding resources used in the classroom.
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Introduction

Teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) is one of the most important aspects of the modern United States classroom. ELLs often come from different language and educational backgrounds and a variety of home life experiences and cultural values that they bring to each unique classroom. There is a persistent achievement gap between ELLs and native English speakers (Kindler, 2002), and ELLs have had higher dropout rates than English background students (Ruiz-de-Velasco, Fix, & Clewell, 2000). Addressing ELLs’ needs requires teachers to be able to support their developing language abilities in the classroom and out of the classroom in interactions with classmates and teachers.

Expectations for both teachers and students to fulfill their responsibilities as educators and learners are high, yet the pressure is even higher for classrooms with ELLs. Elementary school teachers are expected to be able to effectively support ELLs within a mainstream, general education classroom context. ELLs need to perform well in numerous assessments, which are ultimately tied to teacher performance. These students are expected to talk about subject matter that is difficult for them to understand, regardless of the language barrier. Learning the customs of school becomes especially important in many cases. Kindergarten is one of the most crucial times for ELLs that will shape their development of content skills as well as their attitudes towards education.

This chapter examines how a kindergarten teacher uses scaffolding to diversify instruction in the classroom to support ELLs. Based on a case study of a kindergarten classroom, we focus on the scaffolding resources that are used to support ELLs’ learning. We describe the kinds of support provided and opportunities for students created so they can use their developing language in class with the teacher and classmates.

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