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Don't Panic !  (free sample)




The best of what is going on in classrooms STILL comes down to three things:




Read those three words again. Make sure that you register them. Great teaching comes from: creating a clear sense of purpose, setting up as much autonomy as possible, and creating the environment and motivation for unbounded mastery. The pencil you see at the beginning of this presentation is deliberately a plain old chewed pencil, not a laptop, not a VR head-set. All this hype about classrooms of the future and learners of the future; our technologies might allow us to fly in the classrooms of the 21st Century, but we still need great pilots. If you’re reading this, it is because you want to be an outstanding pilot. Let us show you how to run classes everyone will talk about. 


Our main premise here is that your job as a teacher is to build on what students know and to build on what they can do.  Importantly, this is true at every scale. 

Scaffolding is a key in a single lesson; it should be central to the structure of a unit of study, the structure of a term, a semester, a year, or a course from 7-12.  This idea is as simple as it is profound. Great teachers are guides who construct the means by which students build on what they know and place the opportunities, the stimulus and the tools at their disposal to enjoy exploration and succeed. Great teachers build scaffolding. We hope you can see its potential to dramatically reshape the way you plan your approach. We will return to larger-scale scaffolding later. But firstly, let’s get our head around using scaffolding in a single lesson.

Look at the scaffolding erected on the side of a construction site.


The best scaffolding is smart, flexible, adaptable, scalable. The best scaffolding allows safe, easy access and freedom of movement. You could say that the best scaffolding has strength and simplicity, permitting freedom within structure.  Whatever your subject areas as a teacher today, you are in the business of exploring winning strategies for getting students of mixed abilities using technologies with purpose. Ideally, immersing themselves in self-directed creative tasks with real and tangible learning outcomes. 

If all that sounds too idealistic, let’s look at some of these ideas in practice.

Case Study #1

A photography teacher explains her scaffolding approach to a lesson on composition.

I show my students a series of photographs in which the photographer has framed the subject within a frame. The demonstration lasts 5 minutes. I’m not saying much more than, “See, the subject is framed inside a part of the scene. The photographer found a natural frame within the frame of the viewfinder.

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