What is Gradual Release of Responsibility?
The gradual release of responsibility model of instruction provides the structure for work to move deliberately and purposefully from teacher modeling (Explicit Instruction) to joint responsibility between teachers and learners (Guided Practice) to independent practice and application by the learner.
After I learned to teach through the GRR Model, I taught every Daily Focus Lesson—for Reading and for Writing—in that format.
What Is a Daily Focus Lesson?
What are the components of a Daily Focus Lesson?
How to Choose Daily Focus Lessons
Since this blog concentrates more on READING as an example, I will explain my process for choosing Daily Focus Lessons for Reading Workshop (following a similar process for Writing lessons).
1. I make a list of what reading strategies and elements I want students to know by the end of the year.
2. After meeting my students and getting to know their strengths and weaknesses during the year, I cross off what they already know (which may be different from what they were “taught”).
3. I break lessons down into their smallest components:
5. I teach each lesson as many times as needed for mastery, using different read-aloud mentor texts and different Guided Practice activities.
Note: In a small collaborative school, teachers can plan Focus Lessons vertically.
Remember, teachers can teach about 150 Focus lessons/year (including Reading and Writing), and students are in school for 12 years. You don’t need to teach it all. Teach less to but teach to MASTERY.
My Reading Focus Lessons list pictured is only a sample list. Some lessons students will already know; some they may be learning in other grades. My Procedural and Reader Response lessons (and more) with Teacher Models and Student Samples are included in THE WRITE TO READ: Response Journals that Increase Comprehension.
This is a sample Gradual Release of Responsibility Focus Lesson for the Reading Strategy "Making Predictions" using the poem "Casey at the Bat":
Using Gradual-Release-of-Responsibility Model to Plan the Year
In fact, I planned my entire year in a Gradual-Release-of-Responsibility model, moving from teacher-directed to student responsibility, from the more familiar to the less familiar, more complex reading and writing, moving from narrative to memoir to informational to argument, or, in lower grades, opinion.
The last part of the year students put it all together (as we do in real life) with independent, self-selected reading and writing where they independently applied what they had learned to self-selected reading and writing (continuing with Daily Focus Lessons). At times I assigned a class-wide format or topic. This is giving our students the tools and then having them decide when, where, and how to use them—a real-world skill.
For example, I began my year with whole-class reading—first reading short stories to teach or review literary elements and to teach or review reading strategies. Some of the stories I read; some we read as Readers’ Theater with students volunteering for “parts” as characters—I read the narration; and some I began reading as the Teacher Model (or Explicit Instruction) of my Focus Lesson and students continued reading individually or in pairs for the Guided Practice, and then finished reading independently as the Independent Application of the Lesson.
We then put all the lessons together, reviewing or adding in complexity with Daily Focus Lessons in our one whole-class novel. This was a novel that I chose that I all students could read, some with a little support from the class discussions and me and that I hoped most would enjoy. I suggest a novel that has both male and female protagonists to capture whole-class interest and that is recently-publish so it is likely not to have been read.
Next we move to reading in Book Clubs, which is small-group collaborative reading. See my Facebook and future blogs on Book Clubs Reading. For strategies, lessons, and reproducible forms, see Talking Texts: A Teachers' Guide to Book Clubs across the Curriculum.
And finally to independent, self-selected reading. For more information on this process and Reading Workshop, read “Losing the Fear of Sharing Control” (Middle Grades Journal).
Writing follows the same process, moving from whole-class to small-group to independent, supported by Daily Focus Lessons which I will address in depth in future blogs.