Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Gradual Release



This fall I'm reading and reflecting on the book Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.


Chapter 6: Creating Lessons: Based on Principles and Practices You Believe In



Did you ever read a book that made you keep thinking, "Boy, was I wrong"? This book continues to do that for me. In fact, something in this chapter made me feel a little better. Debbie Miller wrote: "Back then I was used to marching through teacher's guides and textbooks from beginning to end, start to finish. Children and I flitted from one topic to another--it was like we studied everything and nothing." Yes. That describes what I was feeling (especially in our reading lessons).

If nothing else, this book has helped me know that I should trust my own philosophy and understanding of children. It has shown me that having a full grasp on WHY is key to building engaging lessons that are purposeful and impactful. (How's that for a load of jargon?)

Debbie gives an in-depth look at her lesson design tool, no so everyone can emulate it but so we can understand how her design tool informs her lessons. Then we can develop (or use) a lesson design tool that will purposefully help us plan lessons for students.

Debbie uses a gradual release model of instruction.
  • Teacher explains the focus and purpose of the lesson, connecting to previous learning.
  • Teacher models learning and thinking aloud for students.
  • Teacher engages students in practicing the learning, as a group, in pairs or small groups, and independently as appropriate.
  • Teacher provides time for student reflection and sharing.
  • Teacher assesses student learning, reflects, and considers next steps.

As I think back to my own lesson plans, I know I didn't do these things well. Part of that is due to my planning (not as detailed enough in looking at the big picture). And part of that may be that this model may not fit as closely to my philosophy as other things. While the gradual release model has a lot of merit, I think a more constructivist approach may be what I would want to do--present a problem or issue and encourage kids to explore. Then we would have a debrief and more exploration of our thinking.

I don't know. I'm thinking more and more about this. One thing is certain. The next classroom of students will have a different teacher (in a lot of ways) than those earlier ones.

This is a very thought-engaging book. I recommend it.

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