The Application of Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding in Elementary Math Instruction

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Introduction One of the pillars of Vygotsky’ theory of sociocultural development is the zone of proximal development (ZPD). The ZPD is defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p86). The premise of this theory is that students through assistance can boost their understanding of a skill and gain mastery by first observing, receiving guidance and finally independent practice. This zone represents a stage where students are on the verge of understanding but still not capable, however with additional modeling,…show more content…
In order to watch the class as naturalistically as possible, the observation was recorded by video recorder for later evaluation. All of the children’s parents signed permission forms allowing the use video tape in the classroom for professional development. The parents were assured of confidentiality. The students were unaware of the recording. Before conducting the observation, Mrs. “Brown” described the lesson. One area of focus for her students over the first quarter of the current school year is multiplicative reasoning. The commutative property has recently been introduced and Mrs. Brown has found it to be a roadblock for most of her students. She created a hands on activity to use scaffolding to first provide the students with tools and information, a plan to guide them through a practice exercise and then allow them to work independently. The scaffolding strategy Mrs. Brown is using (watch, try, practice) is also called reciprocal teaching. This strategy relies heavily on teacher-student dialogue, prompting and cues (Hallahan and Kauffman, 2006, p. 98). This lesson is designed to use the principles of ZPD by boosting a student from weak understanding of the commutative property to strong. Observation As the recording began students collected large manila envelopes filled with materials, books and pencil boxes from different areas

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