Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the conceptual and historical genesis of the gradual release of responsibility (GRR) model (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) which has become one of the most commonly used instructional frameworks for research and professional development in the field of reading and literacy.
Pearson, P.D., McVee, M.B. and Shanahan, L.E. (2019), "In the Beginning: The Historical and Conceptual Genesis of the Gradual Release of Responsibility
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited
This book represents a long journey for the gradual release of responsibility (GRR) model since Pearson and Gallagher (1983a, 1983b) gave it a name in 1983. And we examine that journey twice in the current volume: (1) in this introductory chapter – so readers can start their journey through the portfolio of current applications and adaptations of the model with a strong grounding in the developmental history of the model and (2) in the ending epilogue (in which David is joined by long-time scholars of reading pedagogy Jan Dole and Gerry Duffy) – so readers can join in a reflection about where the model has been, how it is working now, and where it still needs to go. First, however, an account of how it came to be.
Since its publication by P. David Pearson and Gallagher (1983a, 1983b), the gradual release of responsibility (GRR) model has become an influential and significant model in the literacy field (Duke & Pearson, 2002). David notes that the model is the single-most reproduced graphic from all of his publications, having been reprinted widely in chapters and articles by a variety of authors. The GRR has demonstrated a remarkable endurance, spanning decades, and increasing in use and application over time. The Ngram graph (see Fig. 1.1) demonstrates the increasing frequency of the term from 1983 to 2008 (the last date for which there is Ngram data).
Another interesting perspective can be found using Google Scholar. A search conducted at the beginning of 2019 turned up 217,000 hits for the term, “gradual release of responsibility,” in titles, articles, abstracts, books, chapters, and papers. The more restrictive term “gradual release of responsibility model” still yielded over 68,600 hits. A search of Google Images reveals hundreds of images of the GRR model including published versions, but also including teacher-made posters, captions for photos, posters for sale, and cartoons (and more) which indicates that the visual representation of the GRR is widely used, adapted, and shared.
Despite the longstanding use of the GRR framework, no book has been published that is exclusively devoted to the history of the model developed by Pearson and Gallagher (1983a, 1983b) and the application of the model in various aspects of literacy learning and education. As such, this edited volume takes up this charge, first exploring the history and evolution of the GRR (including some variations on the model), then considering how the GRR has been or could be used in various aspects of literacy instruction and research, and concluding with a look back reflecting across the volume and across the decades of work connected to the GRR (see Dole, Duffy, and Pearson, Chapter 16).
A Brief History of the GRR
The Origins and Motivation for the Model
The model arose gradually (fittingly!) over time predominantly between the years from 1978 to 1983 as part of a search for a model of instruction that could demonstrate how explicit reading comprehension pedagogy could be used to assist teachers and schools in more effective instructional approaches to teaching reading comprehension. The search for a model to alter current instructional practice was precipitated, in part, by the startling revelations of Dolores Durkin’s (1978–1979), now classic, study which had demonstrated that what was being carried out in schools under the guise of reading comprehension instruction was neither effective nor instructive.
In her examination of over 17,997 minutes of reading instruction in the intermediate grades, Durkin found that rather than teaching students how to understand, teachers were simply requiring students to answer questions in both small group and large group discussions and in assignments. Simply, put comprehension instruction consisted of assessments and assignments: Teachers asked questions, and students answered them. The assumptions in this widespread default approach are (a) that students can answer the questions teachers ask them about the texts they read and (b) if they cannot, they will improve their question-answering abilities if teachers just increase the amount of question-answering practice they provide for students. The irony, of course, is that this approach simply perpetuates, perhaps even exacerbates, and the gap between those who can and those who cannot answer questions successfully in the first place. More practice allows those who can to refine their good practices and those who cannot to refine their maladaptive practices. In other words, “Practice makes perfect, if you’re already pretty close to perfect.” But, Pearson and his colleagues were looking for an alternative to the “practice makes perfect (or imperfect)” model of pedagogy. For Pearson and several of his colleagues (all but David were doctoral students when this quest began), including Jane Hansen (Hansen, 1981; Hansen & Pearson, 1983), Christine Gordon (Gordon, 1985; Gordon & Pearson, 1983), Taffy Raphael (Raphael & McKinney, 1983; Raphael & Pearson, 1985; Raphael & Wonnacut, 1985), and Meg Gallagher (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983a, 1983b), the GRR model emerged gradually through work undertaken during time at the Center for the Study of Reading at the University of Illinois.
The Collegial Scaffolding
Fortunately for Pearson and his colleagues, others at the Center for the Study of Reading in the early 1980s shared their concern and their quest for more effective pedagogy and for ways to describe how children could be supported in reaching comprehension of text that was just beyond their grasp alone. Most important, David and this group of emerging scholars encountered the work of Ann Brown and Joe Campione, who were using a Vygotsky (1978) perspective to conceptualize instruction. For Brown and Campione, learning occurred in zone of proximal development (ZPD) – a space in which students encountered the helpful support of “more knowledgeable others,” who could assist students in progressing from what they can accomplish on their own to what they can accomplish with a little boost from their friends or teachers. It was Brown and Campione who introduced David and his colleagues to another student, Annemarie Palincsar, who was conceptualizing a dissertation (which led to the now famous pedagogical routine known as reciprocal teaching) dealing with these very issues (e.g., Palincsar & Brown, 1984; Palincsar, Brown, & Martin, 1987).
Equally as important, Brown and Campione introduced the group to the work of Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) and their recently coined construct of scaffolding and to the dynamic assessment practices of Reuven Feuerstein (Feuerstein, Rand, & Hoffman, 1979). Along with Brown and Campione’s pedagogical research, the constructs of scaffolding and dynamic assessment were driven by the then recently rediscovered Vygotskian socio-cognitive views of learning and development (Vygotsky, 1978), particularly the ZPD. Scaffolding provided a powerful label for what it is that the more knowledgeable others could and should do when working in the ZPD. And dynamic assessment turned out to be a prescient way of thinking about what has evolved into formative assessment (Black & William, 1998). The key element in dynamic assessment changes the questions researchers and educators ask about assessment. Assessment is no longer merely a measurement of how a child performs in comparison to the norm of similar children. Instead, in a dynamic assessment frame, assessment is viewed as an index of what a child can do when provided with different levels of “scaffolding.” Therefore, the question is not, “Can a child do X?” Instead, the question becomes, “Under what conditions of scaffolding can a child do X?” This question is soon followed by, “How can a teacher, or more knowledgeable other, fade the scaffolds over time to lead to completely independent performance?” It is worth mentioning that these Vygotskian concepts are now familiar concepts to many teachers and scholars, but at the time, these works were recent additions to the literacy landscape and had not yet been applied broadly in practice or research.
The Visual Model
The visual model of the GRR evolved over time in conversations with Meg, Taffy, Annemarie, Joe, and Ann as they attempted to find good ways of depicting what the teacher’s role and what the student’s role was. Joe actually had a precursor visual representation that had displayed something like the distribution of volume of task responsibility – what proportion of the responsibility pie is each takes. And one day, the idea came to David in a noontime conversation – it was just like the classic guns and butter production function curve he had learned about in Econ 1-A at Berkeley in the early 1960s. If it was possible to conceptualize society’s priorities as reflecting various combinations of producing food (i.e., butter) versus arms (i.e., guns), it was possible to conceptualize comprehension task completion as requiring various combinations of student versus teacher responsibility: the more teachers do, the fewer students do and vice versa. That is how the idea of plotting teacher responsibility on the Y-axis and student responsibility on the X-axis originated. As soon as David drew a picture of it (see Fig. 1.2), it all made sense to everyone.
Of course, in those pre-PowerPoint days of the early 1980s when computer-generated graphics were not readily available, the visual did not look so polished. The original, literally sketched out by David on a napkin during lunch, resembled the depiction in Fig. 1.3.
Another step in the development of the GRR model occurred in 1983 when David and Meg Gallagher wrote a piece for Contemporary Educational Psychology entitled, the “Instruction of Reading Comprehension.” Serendipitously, a companion piece published in this same volume is the now classic article, “Becoming a Strategic Reader” (Paris, Lipson, & Wixson, 1983). David and Meg’s 1983 article included the original published version of the model, complete with an acknowledgment to Joe Campione for inspiring its creation (see Fig. 1.3). According to Google Scholar, this article has become David’s third most-cited publication, and as noted earlier in this chapter, the GRR model published in 1983 has become the figure that David receives the most requests from authors and publishers to reprint (Fig. 1.4).
During this period, David and his colleagues continued their development of the GRR because even as they started using the model, they realized it had a lot more nuance to it than was implied by the simple model. In 1985 David wrote the first of many synthesis pieces on reading comprehension research, this one for The Reading Teacher entitled “Changing the Face of Reading Comprehension” where David wrote:
I would like to propose a new model…a model in which the teacher assumes a more central and active role in providing instruction, a model in which practice is augmented by teacher modeling, a guided practice and substantive feedback, a model in which the teacher and child move along that continuum of task responsibility [the Gradual Release of Responsibility], a model that says just because we want students to end up taking total responsibility for task completion does not mean that we should begin by giving them total responsibility. (Pearson, 1985, p. 736)
In this article, David also unpacked the GRR more fully by illustrating the specific roles played by teachers and students in the work of Christine Gordon (Gordon, 1985; Gordon & Pearson, 1983) on drawing inferences and Taffy Raphael (Raphael & McKinney, 1983; Raphael & Pearson, 1985; Raphael & Wonnacott, 1985) on question–answer relationships (QARs). As Hansen, Gordon, and Raphael instantiated the GRR in pedagogical experiments with teachers and students, they became more specific about what teachers did and what students did. Table 1.1 illustrates just how the gradual release was carried out in the work of Gordon and Raphael.
|Stages of Task Responsibility in Gordon’sa Inference Task|
|Ask Question||Answer Question||Find Clues||Share Reasoning|
|Stages of Task Responsibility in Raphael’sb QAR Task|
|Ask Question||Answer Question||Assign QAR||Justify QAR|
The GRR Model
Over the years, the model has evolved and been adapted by other scholars and educators and has been applied in new ways. But some of the key concepts from the model have survived across the decades. Among those concepts are Modeling (where the teacher – or another student – demonstrates how to do the task), Guided Practice (where the teacher and the student are sometimes jointly and sometimes separately responsible for enacting different steps in completing the task), and Independent Practice (where the teacher has, at least for the moment, completely released responsibility to the student(s)). We added a stage of True Ownership to Raphael’s QAR work because the goal was ultimately to have students generate questions. Think of true ownership as s kind of “hyper-independence.”
Enhancements in the Model
For several decades, the model was employed, pretty much in its classic 1983 form, but it was rendered more precise and detailed by a variety of research efforts. Two stand out in particular: reciprocal teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984) and transactional strategies instruction (Pressley et al., 1992, 1994). Similar to Pearson and his colleagues, both Palincsar and Pressley were interested in responding to Durkin’s classic discovery that there was nothing particularly instructive in the way that teachers were approaching instruction about comprehension. As a result, Palincsar and Pressley focused on developing either a routine (the four strategic activities of summarizing, questioning, clarifying, and predicting in reciprocal teaching) or a menu (the list of monitoring and fix-up strategies in transactional strategies instruction). In the process of demonstrating, the efficacy of their approaches, they helped other researchers and educators learn even more about the key characteristics of the GRR – explicit instruction, modeling, guided practice, scaffolding, independent practice (i.e., both application and use), collaborative efforts among students, and opportunities applying the repertoire to authentic texts and reading tasks.
As a consequence of this work and the work of many other scholars carried out over the 20 years following the introduction of the GRR, Duke and Pearson (2002) were able to incorporate much of what others, most notably the reciprocal teaching and transactional strategies groups, had learned. Writing for teachers in a chapter that summarized current knowledge of comprehension instruction, Duke and Pearson used the GRR as the basic model for teaching comprehension strategies. Fig. 1.5 illustrates the greater specificity of these advances in the model.
A newer version of the model was provided almost a decade later, when Duke and Pearson joined by Strachan and Billman (2011) revised their chapter on comprehension instruction (see Fig. 1.6). This figure more directly reflected the nature of the steps in the overall instructional approach favored by Duke et al. Interestingly, this version situates most of what a teacher does to gradually release responsibility in the middle step of that instructional approach.
Table 1.2 (p. 12) provides an example of what the scaffolds look like in each step in the original model between classroom teachers and children learning to read.
|Pedagogical Step||Example of Relevant Teacher Scaffolding Children in the Reading Process|
|An explicit description of the reading strategy and when and how it should be used||Predicting is making guesses about what will come next in the text you are reading. You should make predictions a lot when you read For now, you should stop every two pages that you read and make some predictions.|
|Teacher and/or student modeling of the reading strategy in action||I am going to make predictions while I read this book. I will start with just the cover here. Hmm… I see a picture of an owl. It looks like he – I think it is he – is wearing pajamas, and he is carrying a candle. I predict that this is going to be a make-believe story because owls do not really wear pajamas and carry candles. I predict it is going to be about this owl, and it is going to take place at nighttime.|
|Collaborative use of the reading strategy in action||I have made some good predictions so far in the book. From this part on I want you to make predictions with me. Each of us should stop and think about what might happen next …. Okay, now let’s hear what you think and why…|
|Guided practice using the reading strategy with GRR||Early on…|
|I have called the three of you together to work on making predictions while you read this and other books. After every few pages, I will ask each of you to stop and make a prediction. We will talk about your predictions and then read on to see if they come true.|
|Each of you has a chart that lists different pages in your book. When you finish reading a page on the list, stop and make a prediction. Write the prediction in the column that says “Prediction.” When you get to the next page on the list, check off whether your prediction “Happened,” “Will not happen,” or “Still might happen.” Then make another prediction and write it down.|
|Independent use of the reading strategy||It is time for silent reading. As you read today, remember what we have been working on – making predictions while we read. Be sure to make predictions every two or three pages. Ask yourself why you made the prediction you did – what made you think that. Check as you read to see whether your prediction came true. Jamal is passing out Predictions! bookmarks to remind you.|
Source: Adapted with permission from Duke et al. (2011).
The Central Role of Scaffolding in the GRR Model
From its inception, the scaffolding construct has resided at the core of the GRR model. Wood et al. (1976) described expert tutors promote problem solving among students by providing the right kind of support and just the right moment and coined the scaffolding metaphor to describe this process. We doubt that they could have imagined just how popular the term would become as a way for educators to describe the pedagogical journey from teacher-dependent to student-independent learning.
The instant David read Wood et al.’s account, he was smitten. Scaffolding and the descriptions provided by Wood et al. captured exactly what David and his colleagues (Hansen, Raphael, Gordon, and Gallagher) were trying to communicate to teachers about the genius of instruction – that it is a carefully orchestrated dance between teacher and student in which the ultimate and ever-present goal is to render oneself irrelevant and obsolete as a teacher.
But just as surely, David also wanted to communicate that – as Durkin had demonstrated in her research of teachers in classrooms – teachers frequently began the instructional cycle by rendering themselves irrelevant and obsolete (i.e., teachers were providing no instruction, only a series of questions and assignments). David and colleagues soon incorporated the term scaffolding into their lexicon of fundamental teaching moves – along with invoking prior knowledge, employing comprehension strategies, inference, and metacognition – as terms to describe the basics of comprehension instruction. Scaffolding was the core concept behind GRR when David and Meg coined the term “gradual release of responsibility” in 1983 to describe the genius of the work that they and other colleagues were engaged in at the Center for the Study of Reading.
What was, and continues to be so compelling about the scaffolding metaphor is that it captures most of the important insights we have developed about good pedagogy over the last 50 years. 2 A few principles provide important guidance about how to employ scaffolding in robust pedagogy.
Fade scaffolding over time. Other things being equal, teachers reduce the amount of scaffolding across time (and lessons) as students develop greater independent control in applying any strategy, skill, or practice worth acquiring. This is the most common and transparent insight about scaffolding, the very core of the GRR framework. But it does not mean, as many infer, that teachers must always begin a sequence with modeling then move to guided practice, and finally independent practice. Teachers could begin a sequence by asking students to “try it on their own,” offering feedback and assistance as students demonstrate the need for it. In this way the model is flexible.
James Baumann, an instructional researcher who has made significant contributions to comprehension research, once asked David in a conference session on strategy instruction,
David, how much explicit instruction should a teacher provide?
As little as possible.
And David meant it sincerely. There is no inherent virtue in explicit instruction, modeling, or extensive scaffolding. Any of these – explicit instruction, modeling, or extensive scaffolding –are offered if and when students demonstrate less than completely independent control over an important practice. Just enough scaffolding is provided so that students can perform the activity successfully. It is a “Goldilocks” principle at work – not too much, not too little, but just the right amount.
Vary scaffolding within a lesson. Teachers vary the amount of scaffolding offered within any given lesson as students demonstrate the capacity to control the practice in question. It is extremely powerful for a group of students, within the context of a single lesson, to demonstrate to themselves that they are more self-reliant at the end of the lesson than they were at the beginning.
Vary scaffolding across lessons within a unit, theme, or project. Arranging conditions to allow students to gauge their progress over time is very important because it reinforces students’ sense of self-efficacy and independence. Working with students, demonstrate them that they can manage increasingly complex tasks on their own, both as groups and individuals, without teacher support is an essential component in promoting a “can-do” attitude among students. Nothing says that better than when teachers reflect with students at the end of a unit of curriculum on just how far they have come in their independence.
Vary scaffolding between students within and across lessons. Scaffolding demands individualization. Teachers can and should vary scaffolding between students within a single lesson for the very reason that students are inherently different from one another on almost any dimension of consequence. Part of the genius of the GRR model is that it applies in so many situations (a point borne out by later chapters in this volume). As suggested, the scaffolding provided to students across lessons and across time can vary within a lesson. But teachers can also differentiate the type and degree of scaffolding across students within a given lesson. For example, in a discussion about a story or an informational text, one student may need a clue about what page to look at to find relevant information, a second may need the teacher to restate the question in different words, and a third might need some options, thus turning an open-ended question – Why did Henry take Jake’s backpack? – into a multiple-choice question – Did Henry take Jake’s backpack for revenge or money?
Scaffolding will inevitably ebb and flow over time, situations, and task demands. This statement serves as a “meta-principle” for the previous four principles. Scaffolding is contingent on the degree of competence and independence students reveal to teachers. As teachers, we strive for release, but we are always prepared to revert to greater (or lesser) scaffolding as text, task, and knowledge demands create varying scaffolding needs. This is the most powerful and important insight about scaffolding. If we accept the general notion that reading comprehension represents an interaction between a reader, a text, and a “task” within a sociocultural context (RAND Reading Study Group, 2002), then we must accept the idea that our comprehension “ability” varies with the text, the task, and the knowledge we bring to the context. Moreover, the path to progress is not always a straight line: Show me a reader who is a master comprehender today, and I will show you one who is not tomorrow. All we have to do to transform an abled into a disabled reader is to up the ante on the complexity of the text, the obscurity of its topic, or the cognitive demand of the comprehension task. As teachers, we must always be prepared to revert to greater scaffolding when one of these elements (knowledge, text, topic, or task) creates greater demands on readers. Just as surely, we must be prepared to withdraw that scaffolding when these “stars” of comprehension are more positively aligned. It is this insight that that forms the basis of the response to Baumann’s query: How much explicit instruction, modeling, and scaffolding? – “as little as possible.”
Thus far, we have traced the development of the GRR model through the lens of a network of researchers who were well connected professionally, meaning that they were keenly aware of and built upon one another’s work over the years from the early 1980s through the early to middle 2000s. This work has been documented in a number of research reviews from the early 1990s (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991; Pearson & Fielding, 1991; Pearson, Roehler, Dole, & Duffy, 1992) through the early 2000s (Duke & Pearson, 2002; Pressley, 2001), and into the early part of the 2010s (Duke et al., 2011; Wilkinson & Son, 2011).
But there is much more to the story. Beginning in the 1980s and extending all the way into today’s world of research and practice, many other scholars and practitioners have adapted the GRR model to a host of purposes and practices. That was the clear message at the outset of this chapter, where we documented the ever-expanding use of the model, with well over 217,000 hits on the term, GRR, over 68,600 hits on the term, GRR model, and about 300 arguably different visual representations of the model.
We could not possibly do justice to all of these variants, but we can highlight a few, just to illustrate the wide range of adaptations.
One of the most widely disseminated adaptations of GRR emanates from the extensive work of Fisher and Frey (2014) in their research and development efforts to engage teachers in both ambitious instruction and authentic learning (see Pearson, 2011). In their model, what is emphasized is who is doing the work, with work responsibility gauged by the relative amount of space allocated to teachers and students in I do, We do, and You do zones. One other significant variation from the original model is the addition of the Collaboration (You do together) Zone, which lies in between the Teacher/Student collaboration in the Guided Instruction Phase and the Independent Practice phase. In Vygotskian terms, it implies that the “more knowledgeable other” in the scaffolding relationship need not be a teacher but could be a fellow student – a perspective with important implications for classroom practice and small group work (Fig. 1.7).
A very compelling visualization of the roles teachers play is captured in this cartoon-like version of GRR from the WhatEdSaid website (Sackson, 2011). It is reminiscent of the terminology used by Raphael and Au (1998), in their version of GRR. The WhatEdSaid terms (Show Me (model), Help Me (share), Watch me (guide), and Let me (apply)) map well onto Raphael and Au’s teacher roles (Modeling, Scaffolding, Facilitating, and Participating).
These two examples anchor the use of the GRR model for very different audiences and purposes. As such, they illustrate the wide range of uses to which the model has been put in its original role – to illustrate how teachers can be “instructive” as teachers in their classrooms.
Sackson’s (2019) recent revision (Fig. 1.9) of her original cartoon depiction of the GRR (Fig. 1.8) unearths a concern shared by all who use the GRR to guide their work; namely that overzealous adherence to the model (insisting, for example, that a teacher ALWAYS start with modeling or ALWAYS go through all the stages/steps in a rigid order) undermines the model’s most essential attributes; particularly, adaptability, and nimbleness (also see the section on Misuses of the GRR in Chapter 16). Similar to a number of authors in this volume, Sackson’s revised representation shifts the teacher from being the starting point to foregrounding the student’s role in learning – note the diminutive teacher in Fig. 1.9 thoughtfully reflecting alongside her students!
This reflective stance for teachers is a fitting segue our next topic: the role that GRR can play (and has played!) in conceptualizing reflection in teacher learning.
Extending the GRR to Teacher Reflection
In addition to the decades-long focus using the GRR to help teachers think about children’s learning, recent attention has also focused on using the GRR to help pre-service and in-service teachers or teacher educators reflect on their own teaching through video (McVee, Shanahan, Hayden, Boyd, & Pearson, 2018; McVee, Shanahan, Pearson, & Rinker, 2015; Shanahan et al., 2013). Similar to the use of GRR with children, application of the gradual release with adults focuses on scaffolding. Adult learners may be in-service teachers working to acquire, implement, and refine new teaching practices related to reading strategy instruction through reflection on video (e. g., Shanahan & Tochelli, 2012) or pre-service teachers honing their literacy skills (e.g., Shanahan et al., 2013; Wetzel, Maloch, & Hoffman, 2016). Components for adult learners mirror those needed for younger students: safe and supportive environments where learners feel comfortable and are supported in risk-taking; a more knowledgeable other or guide who can provide explicit instruction as needed to assist adult learners in reflecting on and improving of teaching – keeping in mind that more knowledgeable others can also be fellow learners (Deeney & Dozier, 2015). In a learning environment with adults, teachers must also be aware of the scaffolds they must put in place to reduce cognitive processing demands during reflective practice so that teachers as learners can move toward independent reflection incrementally. Similar to work with children, scaffolding for adults must also vary within lessons, across time, and across task demands. Opportunities must be provided to support the needs of individual adult learners as they engage in reflection about literacy teaching across a sustained period of time through varied forms of dialogic interaction such as speech, writing, or multimodal representations and interactions.
The focus on teacher reflection also holds a similar parallel with Durkin’s findings mentioned earlier (i.e., that teachers were not really providing scaffolded instruction for children in reading comprehension but were requiring students to answer a lot of questions). A parallel in teacher education or professional development is when novice or experienced teachers in course work, in the field, or even sometimes under state mandate are required to “reflect on” their teaching but are often provided little or no support as they engage in the process of reflection. Similar to children who are “good at reading,” teachers who are “good at reflecting” appear to think critically and often effortlessly about their teaching. These teachers and often continue to improve merely through the act of reflecting, but not all teachers are good at reflecting. Similar to other learners, teachers need explicit and targeted feedback for their different needs and areas of growth. Teachers as learners also need various types of support. Fig. 1.10 represents yet another adaptation of the visual model of gradual release and this one represents scaffolding for teacher learning (McVee et al., 2015).
In this representation, a true novice (e.g., a pre-service teacher with no experience) may begin on the bottom left as a participant in activities with maximum support that were carefully guided by a more knowledgeable other such as a literacy coach or teacher educator. For example, a literacy teacher educator could guide students in their student teaching by introducing a video of guided reading instruction from a master teacher, providing questions for analysis and discussion, modeling her own thinking and teaching, and providing numerous scaffolds for novices to enable them to construct knowledge and engage in reflection on particular teaching episodes. As time passes, the teacher educator could decrease or withdraw scaffolds allowing students to take on more responsibility for their own reflection with the goal of eventually moving novices toward independent reflection. Similar to children, the GRR does not always follow a straight slide down an even slide, nor does every interaction led by the teacher educator need to follow sequential steps of modeling, guided practice, and independent practice in each iteration – what was also noted earlier in this chapter about children. The process of reflection and learning to teach includes multiple iterations of responsibility and support for learners and for more knowledgeable others. Fig. 1.9 also represents the iterative nature of learning through the looping arrows. With each iteration, teacher learners may require or draw upon different scaffolds and engage in different aspects of reflection with the passage of time (Reichenberg & McVee, 2019).
When sketching out his preliminary representation on a napkin all those years ago, David had no idea how generative those lunchtime conversations would be in leading to the development of a gradual release model that would become more popular and widespread in use across the following decades. Grounded in the rigorous work begun at the Center for the Study of Reading by David and his colleagues, and influenced by many other colleagues in the field, the model has also evolved over time.
While initially introducing the GRR model, Pearson and Gallagher (1983b) wrote about the teacher’s guidance and the child’s reading:
The hope in the model is that every student gets to the point where she is able to accept total responsibility for the task, including the responsibility for determining whether or not she is applying the strategy appropriately (i.e., self-monitoring). But the model assumes that she will need some guidance in reaching that stage of independence and that it is precisely the teacher’s role to provide such guidance. Only partly in jest, we like to refer to the model as a model of “planned obsolescence” on the part of the teacher; but just because you want to end up being obsolete doesn’t mean you have to start out by being obsolete. (p. 338)
Interestingly, while the model itself proposes some “planned obsolescence” where the teacher as guide eventually becomes unnecessary or obsolete, the model itself seems to resound more strongly than ever and shows no signs that it is headed toward obsolescence! If anything, the model appears to have become a catalyst for a variety of ideas, modifications, applications, and adaptations as evidenced by the myriad ways the GRR has been practically employed in classrooms and schools and the way the model has been used in published works related to research and pedagogy. The feeling of shared ownership and pervasiveness of the model, particularly in school settings, seems to epitomize the old saying: “You know an idea has taken hold when no one remembers where it came from.”
Despite the enthusiasm with which the model has been received, what has been lacking until now – and what this volume seeks to provide – is one cohesive text that makes clear the model’s historical origins and long history, considerations of some of the reasons for the model’s long and growing influence, and applications of the model in a variety of contexts for a variety of purposes. The GRR model appears to be ever generative as evidenced by the chapters in this volume where authors continue to apply and explore various facets of a GRR. We see this volume as both a continuation of the work undertaken originally by David and his colleagues, but also, we hope, as the first collective volume among many that will continue to explore the GRR and the role of scaffolding in literacy teaching and learning.
This section draws on concepts first produced in a chapter by Pearson, McVee, and Shanahan (see McVee, Shanahan, Hayden, Boyd, & Pearson, 2018).
This section draws on concepts first produced in a paper by Pearson (2011).
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- Chapter 1: In the Beginning: The Historical and Conceptual Genesis of the Gradual Release of Responsibility
- Chapter 2: We Must Know What They Know (And So Must They) For Children to Sustain Learning and Independence
- Chapter 3: Releasing Responsibility for What? Developing Learning Environments for Text-Based Inquiry in the Disciplines in Secondary Schools
- Chapter 4: The Ebb And Flow of Scaffolding: Thinking Flexibly About the Gradual Release of Responsibility During Explicit Strategy Instruction
- Chapter 5: Sustainable School Improvement: The Gradual Release of Responsibility in School Change
- Chapter 6: Leading Learning Through a Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework
- Chapter 7: Gradually Releasing Responsibility in Justice-Centered Teaching: Educators Reflecting on a Social Justice Literacy Workshop on Police Brutality
- Chapter 8: Gradual Release in the Early Literacy Classroom: Taking Languaging into Account with Emergent Bilingual Students
- Chapter 9: Employing the Gradual Release of Responsibility Framework to Improve the Literacy Instruction of Emergent Bilingual Students in the Elementary Grades
- Chapter 10: Scaffolding Development of Self-Regulated and Strategic Literacy Skills in Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Students: A Review of the Literature Through the Lens of the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model
- Chapter 11: Literacy Coaching for Agentive and Sustainable Teacher Reflection: Joint Action within a Gradual Release of Responsibility as Apprenticeship
- Chapter 12: “See, You Can Make Connections with the Things You Learned Before!” Using the GRR to Scaffold Language and Concept Learning in Science
- Chapter 13: Passing the Pen: A Gradual Release Model of the Recursive Writing Process
- Chapter 14: Think Aloud, Think Along, Think Alone: Gradually Releasing Students to Use Comprehension Strategies in Elementary Classrooms
- Chapter 15: Sustaining Culture, Expanding Literacies: Culturally Relevant Literacy Pedagogy and Gradual Release of Responsibility
- Chapter 16: Epilogue: Reflections on the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going