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Gradual Release of Responsibility

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Do you ever get a sneaking suspicion that this is what your students are feeling once they’ve been given a project or assignment?

Maybe it’s time to try Gradual Release of Responsibility.

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Why is gradual release of responsibility an extremely effective structure in education?  Because it follows a map of transferring the learning process from the traditional “Holder of Information” (aka Teacher) to the students in a way that clearly sets them up for understanding, ownership and success.  Students assume confidence and responsibility when GRofR is done properly.  Note that the Gradual Release of Responsibility can happen within an individual lesson, but will most likely take a series of lessons to complete from beginning to end.

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Above is a model of what Gradual Release of Responsibility can look like.  Notice how the lesson begins with a very high level of support from the teacher.  Once students are ready to do their independent work, the teacher needs to give very little or no support as the learner has been taught, modeled to, and worked together with guided assistance.  They have a deep understanding of what they need to do and how they can achieve their learning goal or skill.

Here is another simple graphic displaying the transfer of learning responsibility from the teacher to the student.

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Yes.  Gradual Release of Responsibility takes extra time at the beginning of a lesson.  However the instances of teacher intervention and reteaching decreases significantly during the lesson.  Students have a solid plan of what they need to do, how they can achieve their learning goal, and they have a clear picture of what their final expectations are.  Teachers that use the Gradual Release of Responsibility empower their students and set them up for success with confidence and deep understandings.

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