Early Childhood Education Journal

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 39–47 | Cite as

The Power of Verbal Scaffolding: “Showing” Beginning Readers How to Use Reading Strategies

  • Julie W. Ankrum
  • Maria T. Genest
  • Elizabeth G. Belcastro


A single case study design was employed to describe the nature of one teacher’s verbal scaffolding used during differentiated reading instruction in a kindergarten classroom. The teacher participant was selected from a group of exemplary teachers nominated from two school districts in southwestern Pennsylvania. Multiple sources of data, including transcripts of video-taped small group literacy lessons, were analyzed to glean insight regarding the nature of verbal scaffolding in classroom instruction. Transcripts were coded to identify salient patterns and themes related to lesson differentiation. The following categories were used to define the different types of talk used by the teacher to promote the independent use of strategies in reading: direct explanation, explicit modeling, invitations to participate, clarification, verification, and telling. Excerpts from transcripts are provided to illustrate examples of the different verbal scaffolds observed during the study. The teacher participant in this case study provides one example of how intentional verbal scaffolding can be used in early literacy instruction. Findings suggest this may have positive implications for student literacy growth. Furthermore, this study offers rich descriptions of verbal scaffolding and quality examples of differentiated instruction that can support pre-service teachers and in-service teachers as they plan for effective literacy instruction.


Early childhood Reading instruction Literacy Differentiation Scaffolding Small group instruction 



This study was funded through the Central Research Development Fund at the University of Pittsburgh. We are grateful to Dr. Victoria Risko for providing helpful feedback and suggestions that guided the revision of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie W. Ankrum
    • 1
  • Maria T. Genest
    • 2
  • Elizabeth G. Belcastro
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh at JohnstownJohnstownUSA
  2. 2.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Geneva CollegeBeaver FallsUSA

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