|from John Holly's Compendium of of Strategies|
In my mind it's the difference between teaching and assigning. The model assumes teachers are the master craftsmen and students the apprentice. The master or expert in the room shows the apprentice how things are done. Gradual release in terms of reading means that the teacher takes on the responsibility first (for decoding or making meaning) then slowly releases the responsibility to the students. In my own high-school, English teacher mind, the gradual release of responsibility means what Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher call: I do, we do and you do.
Do you show students how to do something before asking them to do it by themselves. If I'm teaching my students how to analyze the rhetoric of fast food advertising (something we're doing in my A.P. language class this week), I can't just say, "choose a tray liner from a fast food restaurant and analyze the rhetoric in terms of purpose, audience and context." Well, I can say that, but chances are if I haven't demonstrated the process or taught the "how to" lessons that the assignment assumes, students will not understand the task or concepts involved.
When Kelly Gallagher plans reading lessons he asks himself several questions:
My mentor, Janet Allen, says "you've got to be the bridge." Whether I am teaching a strategy for reading or writing, a genre, or a content concept such idioms or figurative language, there is a difference between teaching (modeling, demonstrating, showing how to) and assigning (telling students to read and answer questions, giving students a task without any help). Does that make sense? I like how one of the boy's in Jeff Wilhelm's study put it, "teachers give you hard things to do and then they don't help you." Modeling is the tool that helps students as Wilhelm describes in this video clip which examines the gradual release model from a Vygotskian perspective.
- Without my assistance, what will students take from this reading?
- With my assistance, what do I want my students to take from this reading?
- What can I do to bridge the gap between what my students would learn on their own and what I want them to learn? What support should I offer ...?
- How will I know if my students "got it"? (Deeper Reading 215)
This year my district asked to film me teaching and to use the video to teach administrators about the gradual release of responsibility. Here's a copy compressed for the blog:
On Monday, 1/31 at 7 p.m., I'll be hosting a discussion of the gradual release of responsibility model on #engchat, a weekly English chat on Twitter. Selfishly, I'd love to talk about my questions. How do you know when to "release" students--it's sort of scary, isn't it. The Giver allusion aside, how do you decide? How much modeling do students need? How do we discover what students know so that we can maximize our time with them? These are few things I'm thinking about as Monday approaches.
If you'd like to join the conversation, sign in to twitter and follow the hashtag #engchat. Get more details and a "how to" join the conversation using Twitter tools here.