When planning for my newest workshop on the Gradual Release of Responsibility, I had a HUGE epiphany… when thinking about what the barriers to implementing this classroom structure, I realized that while research shows us that the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework supports learners:
But too often, professional development follows this framework:
And we know that this framework is not helpful to learners. Too often, we as designers of professional learning share our thinking and then expect teacher learners to implement on their own. This realization hit me like a brick. So how to use the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework as the design framework for professional learning?
Planning to Plan for Instruction
- I Do: Modelling Planning
- We Do: Shared Planning
- You Do: Collaborative Planning
- You Do: Independent Planning
I Do: Modelling Planning
Graphic organizers are useful tools for student and adult thinking. I began by designing a Gradual Release of Responsibility planning template that goes through the key steps in planning for instruction. Of course, it is important to recognize that the order of I Do – We Do – You Do is not the only order for instruction!
Starting with an example from the Grade 1 Science curriculum, I decided that the outcome and indicators focusing on seasonal changes would be a good place to insert student writing. From here, I started searching for a mentor text that I could use for modelling descriptive words and showing seasonal changes. I decided to use “Goodbye Winter, Hello Spring” by Kenard Pak. A helpful hint is to search a book title on YouTube to see if it fits what you are hoping for. When selecting a mentor text, it is important to identify the key questions that you might have students think about while you and they are reading.
Once I have the curricular connections and mentor text in place, I can then identify what I will include in my modelling/think aloud.
The “I Do” in this instructional sequence might include:
- Features of the mentor text
- Modelling writing
- Mini lessons on writing or science related to this writing project
The “We Do” in the instructional sequence might include
- Shared writing using the mentor text example
The “You Do: Together” in the instructional sequence might include
- Collaborative rewriting of different passages of the book
The “You Do: Independent” in the instructional sequence might include
- Drawings and description of one plant or animal that changes between the winter and spring seasons.
You can see a completed (DRAFT) graphic organizer for this sequence on Seasonal Changes here.
We Do: Shared Planning
In shared planning, workshop participant and I will co-construct a second instructional sequence, choosing one outcome from a pre-selected list of outcomes that all lend themselves to student writing. For example:
- If the outcome chosen is Grade 5 Social Studies: Government Structure, we can use “Canada Votes” as our mentor text. In many communities, it would be helpful for students to expand the description of government in this book to include First Nations governance and elections.
- If the outcome chosen is Grade 3 Mathematics: Passage of Time, we can use “A Second is a Hiccup” as our mentor text. This would allow children to explore what activities take different measures of time.
You Do: Collaborative Planning
- At this stage, teachers will work with grade-similar peers and co-create a series of lessons that they are interested in.
- It is important here to co-construct criteria for what makes a good plan.
You Do: Independent Planning
- Finally, teachers will use the planning template to create a series of lessons for their own curriculum. These ideas can then be shared through a Speed Dating structure so that peers can hear creative ideas that might apply to their own classrooms.
By using the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework to learn about the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework, the hope is that teachers will be able to experience as learners the power of this model. When we experience something as learners, we have increased understanding and confidence to use it.