I am in the process of working on a PhD in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and during this term we are examining instructional models.  I was excited to revisit the work of Fisher & Fry and their explanation of the Gradual Release of Responsibility framework. This was a model our district studied over six years ago.

In the past few weeks as I observed instruction in classrooms, I was reminded of how the instructional framework outlined by Fisher and Frey called the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) should look in a classroom.  I thought we all could use a reminder of this powerful instructional framework and how the work we are currently doing in our CTTs fits nicely into this model.  The GRR framework outlines four components of a lesson that should be present but not always in the same order.  Those four components are:

  • Focus Lesson – “I do” – the teacher makes the purpose of the lesson clear and models the task using selected strategies using “I” statements (Here is where posting of standards and learning targets and referring to them are essential);
  • Guided Instruction – “We do” – questions, prompts, and cues (checks for understanding) guide students to a greater understanding on an assessed instructional need (Here is where formative assessments can help to guide instruction);
  • Productive Group Work – “You do it together” – using checks for understanding, small groups apply the grade-level concept and a chance for productive failure exists (Here is where differentiation of instruction can take place based on formative assessment data);
  • Independent Learning Tasks – “You do alone” – provides an opportunity for students to apply what they have learned after they have had practice with peers and can be used to make future instructional decisions such as whole-class re-teaching or additional guided instruction (Another place where instruction can be differentiated based on formative assessment data).

When I was teaching at the middle school the application of GRR significantly impacted my teaching.  What I noticed in several classes has been a strong focus lesson and then a move directly to independent learning tasks.  I would like all teachers in our district to consider how each can assure the gradual release of responsibility of learning to your students through building into lessons  additional guided practice and productive group work.  How can we use classroom groupings at tables to assure productive group work is taking place?  Just something to think about as you plan your lessons!