The Gradual Release Method

I took the opportunity to conduct a strategy called the “Gradual release method” to review a topic about light and reflection in my Grade 7 science class.  This strategy looked interesting and I was eager to attempt to use it in my classrooms.  The purpose of this strategy is to “gradually release” the responsibility from the teacher and to eventually the student.  Although on paper it might look like repetition, I have faith it gives opportunities for those who are not sure a chance to get to hear/see the same information again delivered differently.  The methods use four parts, “I do it, we do it together, you do it together, you do it alone.”

This first is the “I do” part of the class.  The aim here is for students to watch an example be completed by the teacher first.  The desired result is to have students see how the teacher completes the exercise, to demonstrate what expectations are being set by the teacher.   With my students being ELL, I try to ask questions often while I am demonstrating.  This is because I’m observing if they are listening/thinking.   I do this routinely, for students to be encouraged to participate.  Although, I have noticed it might have looked similar to the “we do” part of the method, but I feel I made this more teacher directed when you compare the two sections I did.  I also made the first example small with the intention of moving onto the second part more promptly for their engagement.  Another reason is because I was concerned about how “teacher-centred” this first part is and in my opinion, if the teacher talks too long, even in another language it can be difficult for students to follow.

The second part is called “we do”.  In this part, The teacher performs another example but this time the students participate with the teacher.  The teacher still leads the example but it requires student’s participation to complete it.  This is something I utilise a lot more in class.  Therefore, I felt more comfortable in this approach as it’s something I routinely do with students and I felt the students responded appropriately when asked.

The third part is called “you do it together”.  In this section of the class, the students now collaborate and work together to complete the first activity on the worksheet.  In this stage, the teacher can facilitate the students working together and check each group or pair of students and observe how they are doing.  Unfortunately, some students forgot to bring their protractors to school for my class but there was luckily enough to share 2 protractors in groups of four.  It wasn’t completely ideal, but it was something I had to improvise and adapt to.  I felt that the students cooperated well with each other, even with the limitations given.  However, some students did struggle, thus, I had to step in and facilitate and observe them as some weren’t sure where to draw next or where to measure with the protractor.

Finally, the last part is called “I do it alone”.  In this last part, the students will have gained confidence and full understanding of the tasks required to complete.  Therefore, the students can complete the rest of the activities on the worksheet by themselves at their own pace. A small handful of students were able to continue and finish the rest of the worksheet themselves.  However, there were a few students who still weren’t sure where to draw next and I continued to go around and facilitate those who still needed extra attention.   

Overall, I felt the “I do” and “we do” part emphasises more on the visual aspects of what is being taught.  Therefore, I feel that this is very beneficial for my ELL students as they get the opportunity to see an example twice to get a better understanding of what to do.  Although some students need more attention, I definitely believe I can improve and utilise this more in the future.  Especially if I wanted to do a review exam styled questions in class before the standardised tests.  

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