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Gradual Release

What is it?

  • Planning instruction to naturally shift from teacher modeling to student independence
  • Using think-aloud and modeling structures to progress through I Do, We Do, Two Do, You Do 
  • Designing learning experiences using a scaffolded approach 


Model with explicit instruction, provide opportunities for guided and independent practice, while gradually transferring learning to the student



Engage in the cycle of learning moving from observing and questioning to practicing and creating

How can I implement in the classroom?

Articulate clear learning goals and explicitly model the thinking and creating process related to those goals

Provide students opportunities to practice skills or explore content with close teacher guidance and supporting resources or activities

Create opportunities for students to independently practice and allow students to demonstrate thinking and reflect with peers and teacher

Conclude with opportunities for students to practice the skills of the lesson independently

Weave opportunities for students to discover content, connect ideas, and consider real-world application and problems throughout all levels of the gradual release process

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Classrooms in Action

Gradual Release in a Blended Classroom


Improving Teacher Practice


Gradual Release of Responsibility

Flipping Algebra II


Why does it work?

"Gradual release of responsibility contains many familiar elements: 'hook the kids, show don’t tell, keep the pace crisp, vary the activities, and social groupings, get up close and personal to provide small group and individualized help'... Gradual release of responsibility requires teachers to take on a variety of roles throughout the day: modeling, coaching, conferring, observing, and using formative assessment to steer  individuals and groups.”
From Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life's Classrooms, page 42Steven Zemelman, Harvey "Smokey" Daniels, Arthur Hyde

Digital Tools that Work

Activities that Work