In some classrooms, the last day before a holiday recess tends to be a time to host a class party, watch holiday videos, or do crafts. We look at this day as our last chance before a prolonged break to spend some meaningful time with students. We want our students to go into their time off with energy and excitement around learning. Today was a day full of celebration, fun, and excitement, and it packed an academic punch.  We hosted our informational museum exhibits, and the students had great experiences. Children went to work setting up their displays and materials to get ready to TEACH other students. Our second graders taught first graders all about:

  • What dogs need to live
  • How volcanoes erupt
  • Different types of tornados
  • What different baby animals eat
  • Different planets in the solar system
  • What tigers eat
  • All about baby pandas
  • How whales use their bodies to survive 
  • Different types of clouds
  • Different things dinosaurs eat
  • What damage a hurricane causes

As you read through this list you get a little glimpse of who these students are and what they really care about. The topics all belonged to them, and how they presented it to their first grade students was completely their decisions. It can be done, kids really can take control over their own learning. When we allow it we will always be amazed because we will know them even better.  We want to make the most of every single moment in school and we want it to be joyful. 

We love @Twitter because any day we can hear @VickiVintonTMAP & @KellyGToGo is a good day.

We walked our students out to the buses as holiday music played throughout the gymnasium. We will be off for two weeks. It is important to us that we keep our blog connected to students, so we will be back on January 6, 2020! In the meantime, you can find us hidden away in a corner of Panera writing. We are deep into revisions with our book, WIRE for Agency Four Simple Moves That Transfer Learning. We hope you have a happy and healthy holiday. Please take some time out to renew and gear up for all the great learning ahead in 2020!

Jenn tweeted this last Thursday during #G2Great on Twitter:

This Is Balanced Literacy Chat #G2Great December 12, 2019 Click here to read Brent Gilson’s post

There were so many “likes” and “retweets” that we grew curious. This tweet prompted us to think more deeply about the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR).  Anything that is discussed widely by so many stakeholders in school is deserving of a closer look. We would bet most teachers think of the GRR in this way; I do / We do / You do. That is very memorable, and it is true, but to stop there would be an oversimplification of what it is really all about. We wondered if teachers actively think about the fact that the GRR is imbedded inside of the curriculum they teach each and every day?

From Theory

First a little history for the intentionality of the GRR’s theoretical design. Let’s go all the way back to 1983…

Gives us an idea of how long ago this was!

1983- The problem was that there was no comprehension teaching going on in school (Durkins 1978).  So, Pearson and Gallagher created a theoretical cognitive model to better understand the process for reading comprehension. It  was based on the work of Lev Vygotsky’s ZPD, or Zone of Proximal Development (1978). Otherwise known as the “just right” amount of scaffolding from an “expert” learner to a child. It had three stages:

  • I do it: Teacher models comprehension strategy like summarizing a text
  • We do it: Teacher works with the student to practice the strategy together, we summarize a text
  • You do it: Teacher observes students do it on their own, you summarize a text

2002- A new goal was being formed around using the GRR as a basis for lesson and curriculum design. Duke and Pearson moved the emphasis to embed the GRR as a part of daily practice.  They started to use it as a way to design programs and curriculum that would support instruction for reading comprehension. This was a step-wise approach of instructional scripts that teachers could follow. 

2008- The framework begins to shift again, this time moving toward a more student centered approach. Fisher and Frey included a fourth phase: a collaborative stage where students work on their own, together. The energy of the framework was being invested in creating spaces built for independence and a teacher’s observational work. Doing this opens up the learning process, I watch what you are doing and I respond with what you might need. This shift is a big step away from the GRR’s linear script to a more authentic student centered process. Students could move more flexibility throughout all four stages: focus, and guided, collaborative, and independent.

To Practice

Today, curriculum and standards are designed to be cyclical. Students are getting lots of repeated practice as their learning grows more complex over time. This is what is meant when we think about how the gradual release of responsibility rests on a strong vertical alignment in terms of curriculum. Teachers are growing a more sophisticated bank of  instructional repertoires in order to meet these higher standards and to accommodate the expanse of students’ developmental levels. The GRR has become a flexible dynamic tool that moves fluidly in order to meet the differentiated needs of our students. How do we do that in the classroom? Think of it this way: 

Three Important Questions for Your Consideration:

  1. In what ways can I work with students to support their independence?
  2. In what ways can students work either by themselves or with each other to be independent?
  3. In what ways can I monitor growth and/or adjust challenge over time? 

Our Take Away

We are facilitators for students’ learning. Students need to be driving the process, and our work is to create the conditions for that to happen. The GRR is the way to get there, it is so much more than just, I do / We do / You do.