The Gradual Release of Responsibility Method

Gradual Release of Responsibility is a great way to promote learning.


















Time is the hottest commodity in the world of education.

Well, time and Flair pens.

We've all found ourselves complaining that our students don't understand or remember a certain topic or skill, even though we've spent  hours/days/years/decades/centuries on it. I've found that there really isn't a more effective way to promote full mastery of a complex topic than to use the scaffolding provided by the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model.

The video below outlines the method and shows you how I use it for a nonfiction central idea lesson. If you click HERE you can download an extremely helpful and FREE gradual release planning template. I've also written about it a bit, for those of you who are like me and would rather read than view the video.



Gradual Release of Responsibility can be used across disciplines and grade levels. It provides an instructional framework, with each step propelling students toward independence.

Step 1: Direct Instruction

Gradual Release of Responsibility is a great way to promote learning.


The first part of the lesson is very focused. The teacher's most important role is to activate background knowledge and build on it to introduce new material. The student's role is to observe and interact with the material by notetaking and responding to questions.

Teacher
- establishes purpose 
- activates prior knowledge 
- teaches and models content/skill  
- uses academic vocabulary
- thinks aloud 


Student
- observes
- listens
- responds
- interacts

You can deliver instruction any way you like. For the central idea lesson, we started by creating anchor charts together.
VIDEO Post: Teach students to determine the central idea of a nonfiction passage by using the gradual release of responsibility model.


Then we used a central idea PowerPoint and guided notes. I like to give students a choice of folding notes or Cornell notes.
 
VIDEO Post: Teach students to determine the central idea of a nonfiction passage by using the gradual release of responsibility model.

Step 2: Guided Instruction

VIDEO Post: Teach students to determine the central idea of a nonfiction passage by using the gradual release of responsibility model.

During guided instruction the teacher leads students through tasks. We provide prompts and clues and practice the strategies with students.

Teacher
- leads students through tasks
- provides prompts & clues
- thinks aloud
-responds to questions
- explains
- praises


Student
- interacts
- completes task with others
- asks questions
- responds

 For the central idea lesson, we read a passage together and we practiced the strategies introduced during the first part of the lesson. For this one we used sentence frames to write about the central idea.
VIDEO Post: Teach students to determine the central idea of a nonfiction passage by using the gradual release of responsibility model.

Step 3: Collaborative Learning

This part of the lesson requires students to work with a partner or with a small group. They will work together to complete specific tasks applying what they've learned. 

Sometimes because of time constraints it's tempting to skip this step, but it really is an essential part of learning. Students need opportunities to use the academic language to problem solve and talk it out with their peers.

Teacher
- listens
- confers
-responds
- praises
- corrects


Student
- interacts
- completes task with others
- asks questions & responds

                                   VIDEO Post: Teach students to determine the central idea of a nonfiction passage by using the gradual release of responsibility model. 

For the central idea lesson, I had students work with a partner and I provided them with two opportunities to practice the strategies that we learned. In order to ensure individual accountability, I required that each student complete their own copy of the task, even though they were working together to formulate the answers.

Step 4: Independent Practice


By now, students are feeling comfortable with the material, and they are ready to tackle it on their own. The teacher's role is to provide feedback and determine understanding. This knowledge will be used to set new goals and adjust lessons to fill in gaps.

Teacher
- determines understanding
- provides feedback
- evaluates
- sets new goals


Student
- practices
- completes task & applies learning
- takes charge
- self-corrects
- reflects


The independent practice portion of the central idea lesson required students to independently complete tasks that were similar to the ones they completed with their partner. I was thrilled to see that they approached both the reading and the writing aspects with confidence.

Learning improves in direct proportion to the time spent on a task. The gradual release of responsibility model also ensures student engagement and quality time on task. Both must be included if learning is to take place.

If you would like to see more middle school ELA lessons that include the gradual release method, check them out my highly rated Teach, Practice, Test resources. 
Video Blogpost on the how to use the gradual release of responsibility model to teach complex material to mastery!


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