Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gradual Release Instruction

Cross Posted at In Practice Group Blog

I spent today in a Lesson Study. My school district has adopted this model for Professional Development. I am not exactly sure how it relates to Japanese Lesson Study. Most of our training has centered around curricular programs and how they are implemented. One of the ideas that we have experimented with in our school is Cognitive Planning. I still feel that I am at the initial stages of understanding the difference between this and just planning a lesson in a traditional format. The main difference that I see is that in the models proposed, there is a higher level of collaboration.

Today I was introduced to a new concept to me; Gradual Release Instruction. This seems to be the “missing link” in my development as a teacher. I have been able to implement curricular programs with fair success. Nevertheless, I have felt some frustration in engaging my students in the learning process. Working in a Title one school with a high English Learner population, there are certain things you cannot take for granted. I would normally expect my students to come prepared to school with a rich background and school readiness. I would expect them to have a natural disposition towards learning and school work. I quickly found out that this is not the case.

In teaching, I am constantly looking for ways to engage my students in learning and building their responsibility in this process. Right now we are learning how to blog to encourage reading and writing. We are using VoiceThreads to respond to our new learning. So, technology has a role to play. I think that the possibilities in connecting learning to engagement is increased when students are provided with the appropriate use of these tools. It empowers them to build on their own learning. It is even better when they are able connect with the global community to share their learning. I have to find a bridge between the analog world of teaching new concepts to a digital representation of the learning process. I go back to my classroom tomorrow morning with a different perspective. It’s time to roll up my sleeves and immerse myself in a new way of teaching.

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