Of everything I read for my doctorate degree, one of the most impactful was Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey’s “Better Learning Through Structured Teaching”. They explain their framework for the ‘gradual release of responsibility’ or what is commonly known among teachers as: “I Do, We Do, You Do.” They introduce the concept by describing when they started to use a cellphone. An experience we can all relate to, the anecdote captures the difference of a sales person selling the features of an upgraded phone by demonstrating it versus the enthusiasm gained by holding a phone and trying it themselves (p. 15 -16). Can you think of anything you have learned to do by just watching?
In contrast, the examples of learning by doing are endless: Over the summer I followed some online painting classes. It looked so easy until the paintbrush was in my hands and the blank canvas stared back at me. This weekend, our friends invited us to a zoom cooking demonstration. Those that followed along making the recipes at home could answer questions versus those just watching. Last week one of my colleagues, the wonderful and passionate Debbie Wiesenthal, shared how she tried to learn a tennis lesson by sitting on the side and realized she needed to get on the court. What examples do you have?
The concept of the gradual release of responsibility needs to remain in a teacher’s forefront, especially when online, because students can easily be watching and not doing. With that in mind, I am reminding students to be taking notes, frequently asking questions, providing practice at each step and having small assessments each day. I am incorporating online quizzes through our lesson platform and using websites such as Nearpod and Desmos. Students that are responding and participating are showing wonderful signs of progress. Moreover, they are enthusiastic about their lessons and their learning. Recognizing this, I am challenging myself to ensure more, if not all, my students are participating each step of the way.
While Nike says, “Just Do It”, I endorse “I Do, We Do, You Do”!