Practice Together Makes Perfect


As Educators,  we are very familiar with the Gradual Release of Responsibility model for teaching (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983). The model begins with "I DO" where the teacher models what is to be learned. This is followed by the "WE DO" step, where the teacher supports students as they practice the skills. The final step in the process used to be "YOU DO" where the student, after having the guided practice, should be able to complete a  task demonstrating the skill independently. 


Interestingly, many students who were extremely successful during the "WE DO" step could not preform successfully when asked to do the activity independently. If you think about learning, successful mastery often requires time to synthesize, practice, talk about, and experiment with a skill. A third step to provide opportunities for these kinds of experiences to take place was added. This step is called "YOU DO" as well, but the you is the plural you, meaning the student and peers. In Texas, we've decided to call it the "Y'ALL DO" step. Research has shown that time with peers to practice the concepts, ideas, and skills presented and practiced with the teacher makes students more comfortable with the content and more successful when asked to complete tasks based on the content independently. 


Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey have done extensive research on this topic. Collaborative group work that occurs during the "Y"ALL DO" step provides students with the necessary opportunities to consolidate the information and their new learning. Consider how you are currently introducing new material. Do you build time into your plans for students to work together, solve problems, articulate evidence, question each other, explain their thinking, and grapple with new ideas in a group setting? Could creating this time in your lesson progression help your students become more successful when they must perform independently? Would the opportunity to defend an idea or explain a process help the student own the knowledge?


Consider how you currently learn new things. Don't we as adults ask our peers for help, want to practice with someone before performing, and bounce ideas off a co-worker before implementation? If that is a natural step in the life-long learning process, then let's make a extra effort to include it in our students' learning process.

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009


April 8, 2019

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Pre-K 4 SA Professional Learning
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