I can still remember it. “Back in the day,” my teacher was in the front doing his part, talking. I was doing my part, day-dreaming. I wasn’t invested in what was going on. My grade point average in middle school hovered around a D+. I didn’t care.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s true that, with younger children, if you as the teacher stop teaching, the “show” comes to an end. But once your children reach third grade or fourth grade, there are other ways to present content. That’s where the third step in the Gradual Release Model comes in. You can read about the first two steps on our blog.
The model shown on the right presents a plan where the lesson or instructional strategy moves from the top of the model and flows downward. In this third step, the word Collaborative appears in the student’s triangle while the corresponding space in the teacher’s triangle is blank for the first time. The words, “You do it together,” are written off to the right side, and refer to the collaborative nature of this part of the lesson.
This time though, the collaboration is between students.
This illustration suggests that the momentum for the third part of the lesson now rests with the student. You, as the parent or teacher aren’t absent. But, you do move to the background. This phase of the lesson does not require your constant involvement. That’s hard for us who have helicopter parenting tendencies. We need to resist meddling. But it’s necessary if our children are going to move from academic dependence to independence. Again, we’ll use solving a long division math problem to show how this works. This part of the model requires another student to be working on the same subject content.
For this part of the lesson, the students should have a reasonable grasp of the content. They take turns presenting the steps required to solve division problems to each other. You’re listening in the background, and only stepping in to correct misunderstandings. You’re watching while they do it, and they are that much closer to academic independence.
I’m currently implementing this approach in the Supplemental Home School Program offered here at Basic Skills. Using the Mastering Punctuation Flashcardsthe students are paired with another student where they take turns quizzing each other over punctuation rules. In this activity, all the students are involved and engaged. I’m not absent, but I am getting a break. I’m not meddling, at least not very much!