Thursday, April 21, 2011

Gradual Release of Responsibility Idea: Side by Side

If you have a student that is having a hard time with a new concept or skill, and needs that helping hand, you might want to try this idea. It seems like I've seen this idea before, but in case I haven't, I'll call it Side by Side until I hear otherwise.

Henry is puzzled
I recently used Side by Side with a student, let's call him Henry. Henry wasn't quite getting the multiplication of decimals. He is one of my students who doesn't feel confident about his math abilities either. To help Henry become a self sufficient mathematician, he needs to learn to do it on his own with out my help. This is where the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) teaching theory comes in.

Basically, GRR boils down to the following steps, using math as an example:
  1. The teacher models how to multiply decimals as the students watch.
  2. The students try a problem with the teacher.
  3. The students do a problem on their own as the teacher observes their work and gives feedback and correction.
  4. The students work independently on the problems.
Sometimes a student can display independence, but then runs into some tougher problems that throw them for a loop, especially if they don't feel confident in their math abilities. As was the case with Henry.

We began with me showing him how to do a couple of problems on scratch paper. Then I divided another piece of scratch paper in fourths. To get a visual please see the image below. My writing is in purple and Henry's is in black pen. We do a problem together, step by step. Then I start to give him more and more responsibilities until he has taken full control with very few nudges from me.

Henry is feeling good
After a while, Henry was on his own and going strong. Judging from his smile I think he was feeling pretty good.

This idea could be used for just about any content area, not just math. Writing sentences with sparkling word choice, drawing diagrams of food webs, drawing a compass rose, or writing words with a certain spelling patterns, and much more are all fair game.

It's really an easy tactic. I hope you find it as useful as I did.


molly said...

Wow, I just came across this blog today, and I love it! Thank you for taking the time and effort to do this hard work!

J. Kornoely said...

Thank you Molly! I hope you find it useful!

Ted said...

A great example of helping a kid feel confident and independent! Thanks for sharing a good way to encourage mastery of math!

J. Kornoely said...

Happy to share! That's the sole purpose of this blog.