Gradual Release of Responsibility Model

The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model systematically transitions the responsibility of learning from the teacher to the student through four different phases. At each phase, the teacher and student share different responsibilities that decrease for the teacher and increase for the student as the class progresses through the model.

Gradual Release - Roles - Small Image

Ideally, teachers would use this model in every lesson plan. Aside from the fact that it is just good teaching, it serves a few other purposes:

  1. Preparation and Planning– The I Do phase requires that the teacher use a think-aloud while modeling. In order to model the skill, the teacher has to not only thoroughly understand the content to be presented, but lesson planning and practice are required. Therefore, there is a level of preparation necessary that better equips the teacher to anticipate and answer questions students may have, thereby curtailing the modeling to adequately support the class. When this happens, instruction time is maximized.
  2. Application – During the We Do It  Together phase, students should start at application through guided practice and interactive activities that require their participation. Because students are included in understanding the expectation as well as the process, there are opportunities for clarification and questioning without penalty . Additionally, students are applying the skill with the assistance of the teacher AND their peers.  Most importantly, at this step, students are building confidence, and the teacher can identify possible frustrations before the student is required to apply the skill on his/her own.
  3. Collaboration – At the You Do It  Together step, students have taken notes, actively listened, and applied the skill. Now that they are ready to collaborate with a partner or small group, students can ask those questions they were too embarrassed or too shy to ask in front of the class. Here, students can share what they understand with their peer(s) and glean additional information as understood by someone their own age. I think about how many times I’ve watched a student explain something I’ve already explained 100 different ways, and for some reason, their explanation pulled all the pieces together for a student that still did not understand.
  4. Independent Practice – In the final stage of the model – You Do It Alone – students can independently display their level of understanding. Ultimately, it only matters if a student can complete the activity independently. When students make it to the final stage and they still cannot proficiently apply what they have learned, it is important for the teacher to understand exactly what the student needs and how to best help him or her.

Are you using the Gradual Release Model in your classroom?

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