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If, as a teacher, you are looking for advice on how to move your lesson plans and classroom instructions from teacher-centered to group collaboration and finally, independent practice fluently and efficiently, think I do, we do, you do.

The I do, we do, you do strategy is also referred to as the gradual release of responsibility (GRR) model or the scaffolded instruction technique. Below we analyze the gradual release model in more detail and take a look at each stage of the process.

Who created the GRR model?

The GGR model as we understand it today was created by the gradual release of responsibility theorist, Doug Fisher, in collaboration with Nancy Frey in 2007. They developed an accompanying graphic to the model which indicates how the teacher’s responsibility reduces, and the student’s responsibility grows as the model is put into practice.

How does it work?

At the beginning of the model, the teacher has a primary role, referred to as the I do. Usually, at this stage, a teacher will help students learn a new skill, or give them new information to learn. Next, in the we do phase, the teacher encourages student participation, perhaps by asking questions or giving them prompts for their thought process. Finally, the teacher will transition to the you do segment, where students will usually complete a learning task independently, without any major or direct help from their teacher.

Examples of I do, we do, you do phases

For teachers

I do:
  • Give direct, clear instructions
  • Set clear goals (e.g. the entire worksheet must be completed)
  • Provide an example (e.g. complete one math problem for the students)
  • Show your thought process (show children how and why you have answered your example question in such a way)
  • Provide essential knowledge (e.g. children may use a calculator or dictionary)
We do:
  • Ask students questions, and respond to their answers
  • Answer the questions of students
  • Repeat or rephrase information that children do not seem to understand
  • Provide another example answer if necessary, ask the children to help you work it out step by step
You do:
  • Determine which children are struggling
  • Do not answer questions for children, only give them prompts or hints (e.g. turn to page X of your textbook for more instructions)
  • Grade finished work

For students

I do:
  • Listen as carefully as possible
  • Take notes
  • Gather all necessary tools when instructed (e.g. pen, calculator)
We do:
  • Ask for any necessary clarification
  • Answer the teacher’s questions to the best of your ability
  • Work with teacher or peers to answer an example question
You do:
  • Work independently
  • Try to consider different logical answers before asking questions
  • Use your notes and other available resources (e.g. textbook) before asking the teacher for guidance.

How to adapt this model for your classroom

One of the great benefits of the gradual release of responsibility model is that it does not have to be followed in a linear order. For example, some teachers may favor an I do, you do, we do approach. By following this model, students have the opportunity to learn and work independently before collaborating with their teacher and fellow students.

An example I do, we do, you do lesson plan template

I do:

Welcome the class to the lesson and recap any lessons you may have had about fractions. Remind students about the roles of the denominator and numerator and other information they may have previously learned. Next, clearly state the task and explain how many questions you expect the students to answer. Work through the first question on the board, showing the students how you came to the correct answer. Remind students they may use a calculator if they wish.

We do:

Ask the students if they have any questions, if they do, repeat information or rephrase it in a more understandable way. Ask students to work in pairs to complete one question and then ask students what their answers were and how they reached the answer. Once you are satisfied students have a good understanding of the topic and activity, move onto the next stage of the lesson plan.

You do:

Ask students to work silently, you may even wish to play relaxing music to encourage children to remain silent. If a child does ask a question, do not directly answer it, instead, give them a prompt or advise them to look at a certain resource as this will encourage independent thought and study. After the task is completed by every student, collect the activity and record the results of each student. Note down the students that appear to have struggled with the activity and ensure to ask them questions and dedicate more of your time to them during the we do stage of the next class exercise on this topic.

Why is the gradual release of the responsibility plan beneficial?

The gradual release of responsibility plan is beneficial in classrooms because it encourages children to learn both independently and collaboratively, usually leaving them with a deeper understanding of a topic. Being able to work both in a team or by themselves is also a skill students will need throughout their education and in their later working life.

How do you feel about the I do, we do, you do model? Will you be introducing it into your classroom?