Goldilocks and math instruction. There is a connection.
A recent article co-authored by a teacher and an education professor explored the sweet spot of providing support during a math exploration. Rachel Dale and Jimmy Scherrer describe finding the right amount of support by looking at two extremes and finding the “just right” level in between, like Goldilocks eating porridge that was neither too hot nor too cold. They give detailed examples of providing too much and too little scaffolding in a exploratory lesson on fractions, before landing in between, on what they call “productive struggle”—
This approach of Goldilocks discourse is an example of productive struggle (Kapur, 2014). The key to making student-struggle productive is providing the right amount of scaffolding.
This is a good concrete example of an earlier Balance Challenge, that of providing support and encouraging independence. You can read the original post on that here.
Providing supporting through scaffolding is necessary, but too much and students aren’t free to make mistakes and draw their own conclusions.
And we do indeed need to step back and encourage their independence, but stepping back too much leaves students to flounder.
Like Goldilocks finding the not-too-big/not-too-small chair, find the scaffolding sweet spot to help your students achieve productive struggle, where kids learn best.