Friday, March 6, 2015

How Do You Release Responsibility in Your Classroom?

A few days ago we had a conversation in the teachers lounge.  Several of my classes are struggling with all their teachers.  What to do?  I asked if anyone had extra Pixie Dust that I could sprinkle and make the problems go away.  EVERYONE was fresh out.

One of the teachers made a profound comment.  "They need structure because many of them don't have it at home.  When we don't provide structure it ends in chaos."

I knew that.  Really I did.  My aha moment  came as I realized I was giving freedom and independence to early.  I started to analyze how I could approach these classes differently.  How can I give them structure and move them to more independence.  It seems its time for me to study and learn more about "gradual release of responsibility."

Yesterday I changed up my lesson plans.  I took out all our individual state books and split them among the tables.   Students were asked to write the framework in their notebook to collect the notes from their reading.  I also reminded them that the book might not answer all their questions.  They would need to find another resource and include that information.

  Information Source 1 Source 2
State Name

Rivers and lakes (4)

Landmarks (5)

Famous People (3)

State Bird

Agriculture and Products (5)

State Flower

Major Cities (4)

State Animal/mammal/fish

Names of Counties (5)*

State Parks (3)

National Parks

State Capitol



*Not all states have 5 counties.
Citations:  Where did you find your information?

Next week I will give them the Diamante Template to plug in their information.  The first part went well.  They were excited to share with each other.
I adapted this diamante poem template as a state research tool, to provide new ways to synthesize research information.

State Research - Diamante  Poem
Line 1:  Write the name of your state.
Line 2:  Write the name of two rivers or lakes in your state.
Line 3:  Write the name of three counties located in your state.  
Line 4:  Write the names of four cities in your state.
Line 5:  Write the name of three crops or products in your state.
Line 6:  Write the name two state parks. ( Or one if it has two words in the title)
Line 7:  Write the name of the state flower.

                                  Yellowstone       Clearwater
                              Custer         Carter         Petroleum
                       Missoula          Helena            Billings    Butte

                          Wheat               Alfalfa                Barley

                               Pictograph Caves     Lake Elmo




  1. I think it's wonderful that a conversation from the teachers' lounge resulted in reflection. Looks like have the supports in place for students to be successful.

  2. We have a great teaching staff. I am blessed.

  3. Gradual release is a powerful format, too often we go from I do to you do too quickly. We need to build in more of the we do in our lessons.
    The diamantes will be an interesting way to share the state information.


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