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Gradual Release of Responsiblity

Teachers provide scaffolding to help students develop higher-level critical and creative thinking and deeper understanding. As they support their learners, teachers believe that all students want to learn, and they provide a learning environment in which all students can gradually take on responsibility for their own learning. The model of Explicit Instruction developed by Pearson and Gallagher, as explained in the ELA curriculum and the Independent Together document informs on the learning of students across the Continuum and the snapshots.

(Manitoba Education and Early Childhood Learning, Independent Together, 2003).

Gradual Release Model

A simpler representation of this model can be seen as follows:

Simpler Gradual Release Model

Teachers enable this learning environment by becoming facilitators of learning, providing real choices that accommodate a range of learning styles, recognizing that curricular outcomes can be met in a variety of ways, inviting students to choose what they will do to demonstrate their learning and to identify the steps they will take to accomplish the task emphasizing intrinsic motivation rather than external rewards.

Teachers help students move across the Developmental Continuum for Literacy with ICT by following Pearson and Gallagher’s “Gradual Release of Responsibility” Model of Explicit Instruction.

  • Modelling: Teachers model learning behaviours such as building criteria, self-assessment, seeking feedback, making adjustments, goal setting, and reflection.
  • Sharing: Teachers share exemplars of quality work and teach students to identify quality samples of their own work.
  • Guiding: Students and teachers assume joint responsibility through guided practice.
  • Independent: Students practice, demonstrate, and apply learning behaviours that help them become self-directed learners.

Beginning learners, who need direct teacher modelling, are profiled in the first column of descriptors in the LwICT continuum. These descriptors typically state and underline this teacher modeling and guidance; for example, “Follows given plan”, “constructs questions with assistance”, “gathers information from given sources (primary or secondary)”. There is an expectation that teachers will guide students, that there will be much collaborative work as students learn from one another, and that teachers will model and students will follow directions.

In the next two columns of the continuum, students begin to take their learning into their own hands with the guidance of the teacher. While there is still modeling happening, students are expected to draw upon their own experiences and to extend their learning into new areas. There is a constant exchange of responsibility between teacher and student. Under this gentle release, students are still nurtured yet learn to learn independently.

In the last column of the continuum, the student should be taking charge of his/her learning. The teacher takes a “guide on the side” role as students strive to become independent learners. This does not mean that students are expected to work on their own, but rather that they have a measure of control over their learning, be it on their own or within a group.

Resources for Gradual Release of Responsibility

For access to more resources about the gradual release of responsibility, visit the LwICT - Resources for Gradual Release of Responsibility site. This site is moderated, if you have a recommended resource that you would like to share, just double click and post your resource to the site.