3 Reasons Scaffolded Writing Exercises Benefit High School Students

Scaffolding against a yellow wall

Scaffolded writing exercises make learning less overwhelming, help students digest and retain information, and help teachers differentiate instruction.

For many students, the complexity of high school writing is quite intimidating. As a student maps out a piece of writing, they must not only gather and evaluate information, but figure out how to present this information in a clear, concise way. Is a certain piece of information relevant? Is it a fact or an opinion? How does it fit with the other pieces of information in the narrative, explanation, or argument? These are just several of the many questions high schoolers must consider as they craft an essay.

Because of this complexity, many teachers incorporate scaffolding into their assignments to create a well-defined structure within which students can learn how to navigate the writing process. Below, we explore three key benefits of scaffolded writing practice for high school students.

1. Scaffolding enables you to meet students where they are

In most English classes, you’re going to be teaching students who have a wide range of skills and needs. Scaffolded writing exercises can be a powerful tool for differentiating instruction and practice so that each student receives appropriate support based on where they are in their learning journey.

NoRedInk Practice exercises are not only adaptive, becoming more or less challenging as students excel or struggle, but provide students with access to in-depth, interactive tutorials at the top of an assignment and short, targeted lessons when students enter an incorrect answer. This scaffolding and instant feedback elevates assignments from generic busywork to engaging activities that actually speak to the unique strengths and needs of your students. (The data from these activities also gives you a strong indicator of where supplemental small group or one-on-one instruction would have the greatest impact.)

2. Scaffolding makes learning less overwhelming

Most students will need to complete a high-stakes piece of long-form writing at some point during their high school tenure, whether to fulfill a graduation requirement, as part of the ACT® or the SAT®, or as part of an AP® English Language or an AP® English Literature class. Well-designed scaffolding makes preparing for high-stakes writing less overwhelming for students by breaking down learning into manageable chunks. Instead of expecting students to dive headfirst into long-form writing, scaffolded writing exercises help students organize their work and become comfortable with the simpler parts of the writing process before they tackle the more complex parts of the process.

NoRedInk Guided Drafts deliver scaffolded writing experiences for high school students that include access to grading rubrics, organizational aids, and just-in-time support in the form of genre-specific tips, tutorials, and examples. As students work their way through their introductions, body paragraphs, counter-argument paragraphs, and conclusions, they see detailed scaffolding that explains the nuances of the type of essay they’re working on. (NoRedInk’s pre-writing materials are a great way to incorporate an additional layer of scaffolding before students start drafting an essay.)

3. Scaffolding helps students digest and retain what they learn

Scaffolded learning experiences ensure students don’t just go through the motions of writing, but genuinely engage with the ins and outs of the writing process. By providing scaffolded writing exercises for your high school students, you’re reminding them that they’re not expected to understand everything on day one.

Learning is very much a process, and students should feel encouraged to use the resources they have at their disposal as guides and reminders when they get stuck. Working through points of confusion by taking advantage of scaffolding, asking for help from you, or a combination of both helps students digest and retain key pieces of information in an effective, lasting manner.

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NoRedInk’s comprehensive writing curriculum offers a variety of scaffolded and unscaffolded exercises spanning thousands of writing and grammar skills. As a mastery-based program, NoRedInk makes it easy for you to develop student skills in a way that promotes genuine learning and empowers you to accomplish your unique teaching goals.

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Thomas collaborates with colleagues from across NoRedInk to craft stories that illustrate how NoRedInk ​​builds stronger writers. He holds a BA in Religious Studies from Occidental College.