Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to explain the importance of thinking flexibly about the gradual release of responsibility (GRR) during the implementation of an explicit strategy instruction model, Critical Elements of Strategy Instruction (CESI). When the GRR model is typically used to inform teachers’ pedagogical practices, each phase of the scaffolding in the gradual release is usually represented as being a straight line of progression from modeling to guided practice, and then to independence. Scaffolding is often viewed as being a more static progression needed by all students. The authors explore the ebb and flow of scaffolding necessary in the GRR model when teaching the CESI framework to elementary aged students who demonstrated different degrees of competence in applying reading strategies.
Design/Methodology – The findings presented are the result of a two-year longitudinal professional development study with nine in-service elementary school teachers (one male and eight female), with masters’ degrees who ranged in experience from six to 18 years. The teachers used the Pedagogy of Video Reflection (Shanahan et al., 2013) to reflect on their implementation of the CESI, which draws upon the GRR model.
Findings – The authors use examples from their two-year explicit strategy instruction research to illustrate how their experienced in-service teachers learned to think more flexibly about scaffolding in the GRR model. Teachers explored their misconceptions about explicit strategy instruction and the gradual release. Two major shifts in their thinking were the GRR model was not the static model they interpreted it to be and they also realized that they had to use a gradual release when teaching readers the conditional knowledge so readers could use strategies independently.
Research Limitations/Implications – A two-dimensional representation of a complex concept, like the GRR can result in a less nuanced understanding of a complex concept, even when many of these issues are previously discussed in research and practitioner publications.
Practical Implications – Classroom teachers are provided with a more complex understanding of GRR model, where they need to interpret student responses to know when to and not release learners.
Originality/Value of Chapter – This chapter captures in-service teachers’ perspectives of the GRR model as being flexible instead of static and also reveals how student responses can be used to gauge how to make adaptations to scaffolding.
Shanahan, L.E., Tochelli-Ward, A.L. and Rinker, T.W. (2019), "The Ebb And Flow of Scaffolding: Thinking Flexibly About the Gradual Release of Responsibility During Explicit Strategy Instruction", McVee, M.B., Ortlieb, E., Reichenberg, J.S. and Pearson, P.D. (Ed.) The Gradual Release of Responsibility in Literacy Research and Practice (Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation, Vol. 10), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 53-66. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2048-045820190000010004
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