Are you a fan of the "Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR)" model? Our district works this "I do it, we do it, you do it" method into all our unit plans. Not quite sure what this is? Here are a few short video clips that model it...
The one thing that I have heard many teachers discuss is the LINEAR nature of the model...it always reminds me a little of my high school trigonometry class. First, the teacher would show us a problem on the board. Then he would call students up to the board to do it with coaching while the rest of us watched. Finally, he assigned us all the "odds" to do for the next day and we worked on them for the rest of class and he sat at his desk in case we wanted to go up there to ask questions.
I am a firm believer in setting clear learning targets for students--and making them aware of them. Richard Stiggins likes to say, "Students can hit any target they can see that is holding still for them." Pretty powerful, right? We need to make sure students know WHAT it is we want them to do--and that's where the gradual release comes into play.
This became very evident to me earlier this year when I asked my students to write a summary of a chapter I had read. Summarizing is one of our big standards in fourth grade so I wanted to get a handle on what they remembered from third grade. I certainly got my answer!
When reading through their "summaries", I found retellings. I found opinion pieces. I found stories. I did NOT find summaries! If you teach upper elementary students--you know that writing summaries is HARD!
It became very clear to me that I was going to need to spend a great deal of time modeling, coaching, remodeling, recoaching, watching, sharing, and more--and that "cyclical" use of the gradual release of responsibility model is what can be so effective. Certainly, you can have the GRR model within any lesson (and should!), but having the GRR extend over weeks or even months on a complex concept can really help students see what the expectations are.
After I looked at the "summaries" early this year, I began to devise a plan to take us from "not so much" to "we got it"! Here are some of the things we did over the year:
*We clarified the difference between retelling and summarizing.
*We studied examples of summaries and retelling.
*I wrote summaries in front of the class with their suggestions.
*We wrote summaries in partners and then shared them with other partners.
*I took summary examples and we sorted them into categories (4, 3, 2, and "not yet")
*I wrote marginal summaries and asked students to help me improve them.
*I had students write their own summaries based on common texts (like read aloud books) and provided feedback based on what we had done in previous lessons.
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