The Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Model

Recognizing that districts are more likely to provide effective instruction when they select instructional materials that incorporate the same approach to instruction, Learning List has begun a series of blog posts about instructional models and the products that use them to frame instruction.  A previous post looked at the 5E Model; in this post, we examine the Gradual Release of Responsibility, or GRR, model.  

As its name suggests, the GRR model gradually transfers responsibility for learning from teachers to students.  The model provides a framework that allows teachers to share knowledge and ensures that students develop competence with new concepts and skills.

According to Fisher and Frey (2008), the GRR model is made up of four components:

  1. Focus Lesson. Often referred to as the “I do” part of the GRR model, the focus lesson is an activity or lesson in which teachers establish the purpose for learning, identify the standards to be taught, connect content to prior learning, and model new content and skills.
  2. Guided Instruction. During guided instruction, teachers guide students through new learning tasks, providing support in the form of questions, prompts, clues, and suggested strategies. Known as the “we do” part of the GRR model, guided instruction may take place in whole group or small group formats. As teachers work with students, they have opportunities to formatively assess learning and provide direct instruction to individual students or small groups who are struggling with concepts.
  3. Collaborative Learning. In this part of the GRR model, students work with peers to practice new skills, clarify concepts, solve problems, and create products. Teachers move between small groups identifying misconceptions and providing support. This is known as “we do it together” part of the model.
  4. Independent Practice. In the final “you do” step of the GRR model, students complete learning tasks independently, synthesizing information and applying their learning in new situations. Students may rely on notes or ask for support, but they are individually responsible for learning outcomes.

The goal of the GRR model is to move from teacher-directed learning to a student-centered, collaborative learning environment.  This transfer may occur over the course of a day’s lesson, a multi-day activity, a unit that lasts several weeks, or even longer periods of instruction. In order to implement the GRR model effectively, curricula and instructional materials need to be vertically aligned so that that sequence of instruction is coherent and students are not missing key instructional pieces or repeating content that they have already learned. When students have access to aligned curricula and purposeful implementation of the GRR model, they have a greater chance of becoming capable and self-confident learners who are able to take responsibility for their own work.

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