|from Doug Fisher's Michigan Reading Association Presentation (via delta_dc)|
A student in my W14 teacher-assisting seminar raised this question:
If the [desirable] Japanese lesson style* is all about posing meaningful problems and allowing students to explore them, and if the proper role of the teacher is to lend perspective and support in those investigations, then why are we taught to use gradual release of responsibility?Then today (4/9/14) I read this on Twitter from @ZPMath.
* we might substitute problem-based learning, or 3 act lessons, or active inquiry, or...
Zach's concern seems to be about the type of learning that these assumptions might tend to support.
Dangerous Thing #1: "I teach using the smart board." I get this one. I've argued in the past (and have an as-of-yet-unfinished post about it) that teaching via smart board can* pull us toward a teacher-centered, sequential, closed-task mode of instruction. I know this because I've seen it happen -- to me. More on that elsewhere.
*(to be clear: can pull us, not does).
So that one made sense.
So did Dangerous Thing #3: "I just make all of my questions worth one point." Lots of concerns there: If all problems are weighted equally, how are students to distinguish between what's essential and what's nice to know? Does accumulation of points matter, or does achievement of essential learning targets?
But Dangerous Thing #2 surprised me: "I do, we do, you do." That, together with the student observation I shared earlier, leads me to wonder:
Does using a Gradual Release of Responsibility frame pull us toward a teacher-centered, skill-focused, piecewise practice-oriented mode of instruction?Don't get me wrong: I have no problems with "demonstration lessons". They can be a productive way to support improvement on complex performance tasks. In a demonstration lesson, the teacher models the thinking of an expert on a genuine task; afterwards, students are led to reflect on which elements of the demonstration were significant. (See What did you see/hear?)
In my experience (read: anecdotally), that is not how most teachers view Gradual Release of Responsibility. Instead, I get the sense most teachers, especially new teachers, tend to think of Gradual Release this way:
- Teacher works some examples.
- Students try a couple in small groups. The teacher circulates, answering questions.
- If it goes well, students are assigned independent practice (homework).
|from Math Class Needs a Makeover, by Dan Meyer|