I was sitting in my supervisor’s office last week discussing a lesson evaluation from the prior week. The health lesson went horribly awry. My classroom management was on point as always, but the lesson itself was poor. I had packed too much into the lesson. Student choice became overwhelming and what I wanted to accomplish didn’t happen. There are multiple reasons why this happened but that’s not the main point of the blog. My supervisor asked me if I was familiar with the Gradual Release Method. Right away my mind went to Sting. Then I thought about what he was really asking me. I answered truthfully I hadn’t.
Once he explained it to me I realized that I used it in physical education all the time but not in health as often. The full name is called the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. Most educators were taught this sophomore year in college. Physical Education teachers do it naturally. Health teachers maybe not so much.
“Pearson & Gallagher (1983) who coined the phrase “gradual release of responsibility” to describe this dynamic in the classroom. Basing their model on the ideas of the Russian educational theorist Lev Vygotsky, Pearson and Gallagher envisioned instruction that moved from explicit modeling and instruction to guided practice and then to activities that incrementally positioned students into becoming independent learners. The teacher guides the students to a point ‘planned obsolesces’ on the part of the teacher “…where the student accepts total responsibility for the task, including the responsibility for determining whether or not she is applying the strategy appropriately (i.e, self-monitoring)” link
The Gradual Release Method boils down to I do, We do, You do it together, You do it alone. Dr. Douglas Fisher, Professor of Language and Literacy Education San Diego State University, sums it up as:
“The gradual release of responsibility model provides teachers with an instructional framework for moving from teacher knowledge to student understanding and application. The gradual release of responsibility model ensures that students are supported in their acquisition of the skills and strategies necessary for success.” link
From what I understand of this theory, I start out demonstrating what I want. We then move on doing an example as a class. This is followed by group work and independent work honing the skill they just learned. That sounds like good old fashioned teaching to me. I am sure there is a time and a place for this.
The problem with my lesson wasn’t that I didn’t model the skill I wanted them to understand, it was that I tried to do too much. I created a flipped video of the skill. That should have eliminated the I do and We do stages and allow them to go right into you do. The Gradual Release Method sounds a lot like the Spoon Feeding Method to me. Sometimes the students need this. Other times they need to go right to the You Do skipping the first two or three stages.
Either way, I am glad that I learned a new term in the edubabble world of education. Excuse me as I go back now and change what was wrong with my lesson so I can reteach it this week.
Q1: What are your thoughts on the Gradual Release Method of Responsibility?
Q2: Is the Gradual Release Method of Responsibility the way you were taught?
Q3: Does I do mean direct instruction for step one?
Q4: Do you ever skip over the I do method and go to You do? How do you do this?
Q5: How do you make sure that you don’t pack too much into a lesson?