The following information is found in the article “Effective Use of the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model” by Douglas Fisher.

There is an amazing amount of research currently being conducted on effective instructional practices.  It is important that all students receive direct instruction in reading skills and strategies and exposure to a wide variety of texts.  Motivation is key when instructing students and motivation is enhanced by authentic opportunities to read and write.  What matters are the skills of the teacher and how instructional time is used.  The Gradual Release of Responsibility model requires that a teacher shift the responsibility for performing a task directly to the student.  This model assists students into becoming capable thinkers and learners by assisting them to handle tasks in a systematic way – gradually releasing this responsibility to him/her.  It is documented as an effective approach for improving literacy achievement, reading comprehension, and literacy acquisition for English-language learners. (Fisher, 12/08)

In his article, Doug Fisher outlines four interactive components of the GRR  model:

1.  Focus Lesson – Allows the teacher to model thinking of the content for students and builds and activates a student’s background knowledge related to the academic content.  In many of our classrooms, teachers post on their boards purpose of the lesson including the Iowa standards focused upon, intended outcomes including how a student will show what s/he has learned, as well as the daily agenda of what will be done during class time.

2.  Guided Instruction – During this time within the lesson, the teacher guides students through tasks that increase their understanding of the content.  This is a time where formative assessments can provide information to the teacher on who might need additional assistance to master the content.  Many students in our building use exit tickets to determine who understood the lesson and who might need additional assistance with a concept.

3.  Collaborative Learning – This part of the lesson provides students with an opportunity within a community of learners to problem solve, discuss, and think.  It provides additional practice with a “team” of learners.  One of the most difficult parts of collaborative learning is for a teacher to build into the collaborative learning task a way to ensure individual accountability.  Sometimes a teacher will use a parking lot for individual responses on the corners and group decision based on those responses placed in the center.  Some teachers have students use different colored writing utensils to assure all are participating.

4.  Independent Work – This provides students practice with applying information in new ways.  Doug Fisher states: “In doing so, students synthesize information, transform ideas, and solidify their understanding.”

The framework allows a teacher’s knowledge to be transferred to a student’s understanding.   The cognitive load is removed from the teacher and gradually placed upon the student.  Below is a diagram from the article that depicts this Gradual Release of Responsibility:

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