The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model: A Brief Overview

The core idea behind the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model (GRR) is that responsibility for learning is relinquished to students in smaller increments over a period of time. The process of GRR usually begins with teacher modelling sessions (“I do, you watch”), followed by a joint effort between teachers and their students (“We do together”). Then, the teacher allows students to attempt the learning task at hand, working in pairs or small groups (“You do it together”), until they are eventually able to perform the task independently, or with very minimal support (“You do alone”).
As discussed in a recent course lecture, there are several key concepts associated with the GRR model. The first of these is called the zone of proximal development, or the area that exists between tasks that students cannot do, and tasks that they can already perform on their own. In other words, tasks in the zone of proximal development are those tasks that students will be able to perform if they receive guidance from a more knowledgeable other (an individual with a bank of prior knowledge or experience about the activity in question).

In my opinion, the GRR model is a fantastic way to approach teaching, and it can be effective with students of any age level. I’ve seen it used to help Kindergarteners develop fundamental social and academic skills, and I’ve felt its effects first-hand as a student in Teachers College. My instructors have used GRR theory in several different classes, and it always makes me feel more confident in my individual abilities when I leave to complete an assignment on my own. I’ve even used it with my own placement students, and so far, my most successful lessons have been those which make the most use of the model. I’ll be posting some more about this topic under “Classroom Resources” soon, so stay tuned!

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