Educator Reflection Tips

Educator Reflection Tip #77: Are you using gradual release during hybrid learning?

Where did this model originate?

Graves and Fitzgerald (2003) specify that efficient teaching frequently develops through a sequence which  involves educators progressively performing a reduced amount of the work and students steadily presuming heightened accountability for their own learning. As you teach your students to take charge of their learning, they will grow and develop into capable, autonomous learners (p. 98). At the introduction of new knowledge, additional support is critical. Our goal is to teach our students to take more ownership for the learning process. Pearson and Gallagher (1983) coined this process as “gradual release. Have you adjusted your gradual release process for teaching remotely? Are you supporting learners at all instructional levels? It is crucial that we continue to do this no matter the educational setting (Blackburn, 2020).

When you take into account all of the research and data that you have gathered regarding your students’ impermanent learning (learning loss), it is imperative that we modify our thinking about what the gradual release of student responsibility looks like in a virtual/hybrid environment.

Consider student’s learning environment…

The home learning environment is not the same as what you and I create for students in brick and mortar buildings. Many students are attempting to resist the “fun” distractions. They are dealing with “life” distractions. These distractions could include food insecurity, family related Coronavirus illnesses, and many other experiences that we can only imagine. Educators should carefully examine their current practices to ensure a balance between teacher-directed instruction and student centered learning experiences.

Let’s take a look at the Gradual Release Model

Include the following experiences as you teach:

  1. Teacher modeling performance and learning expectations.
  2. Guided scaffolding of the learning expectations
  3. Collaborative practice between students and their peers.
  4. Use independent exercises and reteach when students are not grasping the concepts.
Created by Jami Fowler-White (2020) and adapted from Pearson and Gallagher’s Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Model (1983)

Questions to consider:

Do you currently know the academic level of each of the students in your classes?

What scaffolds are you currently using to bridge the learning gap of students?

How much time are you spending on direct instruction/lecturing within each block of learning?

Have you continued to follow the four-step gradual release process within hybrid and remote teaching and learning?

Do you model the expectations for mastery of the standards in every lesson?

What processes have you put in place to ensure that students are able to collaborate with their peers?

Adopt the BRACE method

I created the “BRACE” acronym to help me remember all levels of Gradual Release of Student Responsibility. If you don’t currently have a method to help you remember the steps, feel free to utilize this one.

B-Be intentional about the instructional strategies and sequencing of information.

R-Remember to utilize all available data and add scaffolds as needed

A- Academic expectations should be modeled within each lesson taught to students to ensure students understand the performance standards they are required to meet to show mastery of the standard.

C-Create opportunities for students to collaborate with peers through the use of channels, breakout rooms, social distanced peer groups, or any combination of these methods.

E-Examine student work in the final phase of the Gradual Release process to assess students progress and readiness for working independently

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is grr.bracemethod.jpg

What does Gradual Release look like in the virtual setting?

As you continue to work to improve the virtual teaching and learning process in your classroom, remember that the Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Model stresses including  instructional explanations/demonstrations are clear, accurate, and build student’s understanding of the content. Plan lessons that focus on the intent of grade level performance standards. Make sure instruction models mastering that skill or standard . Model your thought process for students. Demonstrate what they should be able to know and show to master the standard. It is critical step to practice with students beforeallowing them to work independently. Avoid focusing on the activity, graphic organizer, or chosen protocol. These are distractors. Your focus should be on what students are learning.

I have added additional resources for your to continue learning and increasing your knowing on this process. Thanks for visiting Digital PD 4 You!! I am inviting each of you to sign up for our bi-weekly email list and follow our Facebook Group. Be safe and download the free resources from the first volume of Educator Reflection Tips.


Minds in Bloom:

Barbara Blackburn (2020). Using Gradual Release in Remote Learning

Doug and Nancy Frey. Gradual Release of Student Responsibility Framework

Virginia Rojas. Key Principles for ELL learners (Scaffolds for Instruction): Nesa Center Resources.  

Sara Brown Wessing (Teaching Channel). Improving Teacher Practice with the Gradual Release Instructional Model

Sandra Clark. Avoiding the Blank Stare: Training Teachers on the Gradual Release Model

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