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Gradual Release of Responsibility

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

Leonardo da Vinci

A Model for Success for All Students

The Gradual Release of Responsibility Model is an instructional model in which teachers transition from assuming “all the responsibility for performing a a situation in which the students assume all of the responsibility” (Duke & Pearson, 2002). This results in supported, confident students who “...become capable thinkers and learners when handling the tasks with which they have not yet developed expertise” (Buehl, 2005).

In Mamaroneck, students move toward ever-increasing levels of independence within a lesson and across a unit of instruction. The gradual release process is not linear; students move up and down the framework as they progress towards mastery of the targeted skill, strategy, or content.

Modeled Instruction

Students are first introduced to new skills, strategies, or content through a lesson in which the teacher establishes a purpose or intended learning outcome and provides a model from which students can work.

Guided Instruction

Students are invited to contribute their growing understanding during the instructional phase of the lesson. At this time teachers provide varying levels of support based on student need in the form of prompts, questions, or leading students through tasks.

Collaborative Learning

As an essential step towards consolidating their thinking and understanding, students engage in collaborative learning. In small groups or partnerships, students interact with each other to apply what they have learned. This critical phase allows students to consolidate their learning and reveal partial understandings and misconceptions.

Independent Work

Reaching the ultimate goal of the gradual release process, students independently apply strategies, skills, and content in unique situations thereby deepening their understanding.


Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. Better learning through structured teaching: a framework for the gradual release of responsibility. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2008. Print.

Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. "Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Framework." IRA E-ssentials (2013): 1-8. Web.

Buehl, D. (2005). Scaffolding. Reading Room. Retrieved November 11, 2006.

Duke, N. K., & Pearson, P. D. (2002). Effective practices.