Dr. Samina Qayyum has been teaching communication skills and Integrated English to Masters level students for a long time. During the spring 2019 semester, she incorporated scaffolding techniques for sentence construction, public speaking, and individual oral presentations. In this report she provides a reflection on the success of this approach.
“I used the concept of scaffolding for incorporating the prompts and hints by using WhatsApp videos, LinkedIn PPTs (power point slides), and YouTube videos for supporting students’ learning. By using these technological tools, peer interactions and discussions aiming at the whole class I was able to achieve my desired outcomes. When PPTs were shown and shared with them it not only saved time but also made learning enjoyable for them. Technology was used to scaffold and to support their individual performance. For teaching public speaking, there was a discussion about verbal and nonverbal aspects of individual speaking. They were then asked to select a video or their own favorite motivational speaker, to play it and then to comment on it in front of the class. It proved to be a very successful activity. Students brought very interesting videos and did a good commentary on them. The role of the teacher was that of an observer and conductor, who was monitoring how the individuals were performing and monitoring their learning. The role of MKO (More Knowledgeable Others) for learners was performed by the videos of motivation speakers.
In the next phase, learners were supposed to give an oral presentation along with a Power Point Presentation. Certain key features of scaffolding were utilized which is controlling the features beyond the control of learners’ level/ capacity. They were asked to focus on the key features of the speeches they selected it was in their range of competence/ capabilities. Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky, talked about a child learning with an adult within his ZPD (Zone of proximal development), which is a distance between his actual/present as determined by independent problem solving and the higher level of desired potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance and in collaboration with capable peers. For bridging this gap learners are to be enabled and it depends on the support provided.
I simplified the task for them and they were asked to first of all describe in a few sentences either in English or in Urdu why an individual has selected a particular video, what inspired him/her the most. What was the take away lesson for others from that video? I raised few questions for making them reflect on their selection. Then they were asked to give their own presentations, their classmates were asked to make their videos and later individuals were asked to watch their videos and to critically reflect on the positive and negative aspects of their performance.