I’m very passionate about the notion of meeting students right where they are because who they are is wonderful and who they are is full of potential.
Teacher: A lot of the patterns that we’ve looked at so far have been illustrations
I think that we can meet them where they are just in the way that we design our instruction.
Teacher: What goes right here? How do you as a reader react to the real story
The gradual release of responsibility is an instructional model that has been written about by Doug Fisher and Nancy Fry. The basic premise of the model is that the cognitive load of what we do in any teaching situation has to shift to the learner.
Teacher: All right, so this is what you’re doing for tomorrow.
If I’m spending all of my time holding all the answers in my head, if I’m the one whose doing all of the work then students on the other end of that are just being passive, and what we need to do is gradually over time give that responsibility of constructing the knowledge, of owning the knowledge to them.
So the four components of the instructional model, the focus lesson, or the I-do part.
Teacher: So I want you to choose a pattern, you can choose one of these
The guided instruction, which is where we do together ….
Teacher: So what do you think this is?
Student: So it goes back to the whole reader response thing
The productive group work, which is where you do together …
Student : He experiences an enormous amount of physical pain due to these injuries that he has sustained
And then the independent work, which kind of cumulates all of these different components when the student works alone
Teacher: Try to write down what you think this means in your own words
What we really are teaching is we’re really teaching students how to think. The first component of that requires a lot of explicit teaching. So I modeled my own thinking with this exercise.
Teacher: What do you think, do you think his limbs are a pattern?
Student: I don’t think it’s a pattern I just think it could be a symbol
So today was the opportunity for students to choose their own patterns, to work collaboratively with each other in order to draw some analysis about those.
Teacher: In five or fewer words I want you to put the big idea
And then probably also really important in that was at the very end I gave each of them a sticky note.
Teacher: And on that I’m going to ask you to tell me how your brain came up with that idea
So I think that’s really crucial on two fronts. One, because in group work it’s so easy for one person to do all of the work. So at some level they have to own their own learning in that productive group work model
Student: When anybody body went to a window it was just to get away from something or to feel better
They also have to own their own metacognition in all of this. So they have to be able to talk about and describe how they think.
Student: After he becomes a bug everyone starts rejecting him for who he is. Ultimately the abuse kills him. He just says I’m just going to lay down and die.
Student: So we decided that every time that he feels some physical pain it doesn’t really bother him that much, but every time he feels anything emotional connected to his job or his family it just devastates him.
These are new thinking skills for them and they need to really become acclimated to thinking in this way before they can start to apply it to more difficult texts.
Student: We put duty numbs, betrayal burns and hunger festers.
Teacher: It’s almost like a poem
I think depending on where the teacher is at in his or her understanding of the model it may not be more work, it’s probably just different work. At its crux to me this model is about a learning process. It is not about ways of delivering content as much as it is about ways of getting students to become thinkers, getting students to become autonomous.
Student: Books don’t influence what you don’t know, it’s what you do know
Teacher: Now explain that to us because that’s really interesting
Student: It’s better to influence the reader about what he does know than what he doesn’t know. Because what he does know you can build more fact off of that
I wonder if productive group work is more comfortable to teachers.
It really has been one of the first district initiatives. So K-12 initiative, where everyone is working towards something common.
How do you get that motivation when it’s not a choice.
It is difficult to do this by yourself? Absolutely. Can you do it when you have others? Absolutely.
Teacher: OK, keep going
Do we have to be willing to look for the little celebrations, the little moments that may really offer us insight into how we changed our practice. Yeah, we have to do all of those things but it’s all a part of the process of learning.