The first instructional model I learned as a teacher was “I Do, We Do, You Do.” Also known as the gradual release of responsibility (GRR), I thought this strategy was effective when introducing new concepts because it allowed me to “reach” every student at the same time. But like any instructional technique, GRR has its shortcomings: it erroneously assumes all students learn and work at the same pace. And while this technique may have satisfied pedagogical best practices developed in the 20th century, teaching to the average is no longer considered an ideal practice since it fails to optimize learning for the individual student.
When I relied on “I Do, We Do, You Do” in my first few years as a teacher, I immediately saw gaps in student learning. Students that were learning at a rate faster or slower than the pace I set were either bored (maybe they grasped the concept quickly) or distracted (maybe they couldn’t connect to the concept in the way I presented it). I devoted a lot of energy to keeping the whole class engaged throughout the lesson, but this task proved difficult to achieve and often created unnecessary classroom management challenges. The added stress from relying solely on “I Do, We Do, You Do” inspired me to experiment with more student-centric instructional strategies.
I found three components of instruction difficult to incorporate well with GRR: building student choice and voice, offering differentiation, and supporting multiple learning modalities. Using the Kiddom platform, I’m going to explore how teachers can employ student-centric methodologies to address these areas and take their craft to the next level.
Student Choice and Voice
Typically, teachers come to class with a planned lesson, activities, and independent practice. We know, however, that students are most motivated when they’re able to choose their own path to success and voice their opinions throughout the learning process. To increase engagement, students need to be provided with more opportunities to choose and connect. Interest-based projects and Socratic seminars are instructional practices designed to provide students the freedom and flexibility to choose their own path to mastering skills while providing them with a channel to express themselves.
With interest-based projects, where students learn via a complex, but flexible project driven by their own interests. They’re able to explore topics relevant to them, which leads to high-quality of work and deepened conceptual comprehension. Using Kiddom, teachers can easily share different interest-based projects with different students via a standards-aligned content library, a Google Drive attachment, or sharing additional types of attachments. Once the project has been shared, grading and sharing feedback is seamless via Kiddom’s rubrics. The platform comes preloaded with academic and social emotional learning (SEL) rubrics, all of which can be modified. Teachers can draft their own rubrics too: outlining specific expectations for groups of students. Interest-based projects make classroom decisions appear just as much the student’s responsibility as the teachers, fostering a sense of ownership that will heighten investment and long-term learning. The Kiddom platform makes it incredibly easy to assign and manage a wide variety of interest-based projects across multiple classes.
Socratic seminars place deeper learning directly in students’ hands. Prefaced with a pre-reading, the seminar facilitator leads conversation with open-ended questions, teaching students to think critically, cultivate higher-order questioning, and comment on peer responses. Provide students feedback during Socratic seminars with these rubrics via Kiddom. Attach the Socratic seminar rubrics to give students thorough feedback as they reflect after a seminar. Kiddom’s SEL rubrics include categories like Self-Assessment, Active Listening, and Speaking, which when appended to a seminar assignment can give students the opportunity to reflect on their own performance. Where GRR limits student involvement in the assessment process, the Kiddom platform keeps the line of communication open. Qualitative feedback in addition to a score motivates students to participate and continue improving.
The Question Formulation Technique (QFT) is a student-centric protocol that guides students to form questions most meaningful to them within the context of a class unit. Provided with a “focus” by the teacher, students create various questions, then prioritize them after reflecting on what they want to learn as a group. Using Kiddom, teachers set up a “QFT focus” as an assignment description or Google Drive attachment, directing students to upload their question list as a response to the assignment or in the comment loop. Leveraging Kiddom’s content library to provide launch activities for question formation makes lesson planning easy. SEL rubrics such as Decision Making, Problem Solving, and Relationship Building, can be aligned to QFT tasks. Give students feedback as they create questions to drive learning. Student engagement with this method will alleviate the stress of finding the “perfect topic” and guiding questions to hook students. Let them lead the way!
One of my biggest challenges with “I Do, We Do, You Do,” was differentiating well. Differentiating appropriately for an entire class working on the same task, at the same time is near impossible. In the 21st century, educators should expect education technology to adequately provide the information necessary to differentiate content, process, and product for a class of students.
Interest-based projects are a space for differentiation as students are able to pursue topics appropriate for their performance level and interests. Engagement for students at any level is achievable here as students pursue projects that challenge them to improve from where they started. With guidance from their teacher, students can engage in an interactive feedback loop via comments. Students can ask questions and receive responses they can refer back to while working independently or in homogenous groups. With Kiddom’s Google Drive integration, students can also submit interest-based project materials via a Google document, slides, or spreadsheet, providing proof and evidence of their learning. The ability to modify assignments provides differentiation that GRR simply cannot.
Socratic seminars help students learn from each other and reflect on their ability to engage in academic discourse, taking differentiation to an interactive level. Choosing an accessible pre-reading is important to start. Passages can be found in Kiddom’s content library filtered for different grade levels or attach links to leveled readings online in an assignment for students to prepare. Differentiated guiding questions can be asked during the seminar, then after, students receive feedback to improve. Guiding questions can be sent via Kiddom to students in need of extra time before engaging in a discussion. The platform provides teachers with the data needed to differentiate discussions and assess students at appropriate levels. And while Socratic seminars are meant to be open-ended, providing students with feedback is vital since sharing ideas can make some students feel vulnerable.
To differentiate with the Question Formulation Technique, have students come up with their own questions via Kiddom’s Google Drive integration. Students brainstorm questions from the topic with their peers and submit the product to their teacher for review. Alternatively, teachers may post a link to an outside resource in the assignment description to launch discovery of a new focus, then students can upload their list of questions in Kiddom as an attachment. The teacher can help prioritize questions to pursue as projects afterward. Having students create their own inquiries from one guiding prompt cultivates higher order thinking skills much more efficiently better than “I Do, We Do, You Do” allows.
Multiple Learning Modalities
We know planning a lesson that incorporates auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning well every day is a Herculean task. With Kiddom, preview and assign standards-aligned content and assessments from Khan Academy, CK-12, CommonLit, and more all from one place. The ability to filter resources by keyword, grade level, and subject area allows teachers to assign interdisciplinary, appropriate content for students working on projects and exploring new units. This is a great way to find out which learning methods students prefer.
For example, Socratic seminars are initiated typically as a follow up to an assigned reading or a prompt for students to consider. Assign articles and passages leveled appropriately from our content library directly to the student dashboard for pre-reading to Socratic seminars. Since all of our content can be filtered by student interest and topic, interest-based projects can be launched as students explore different resources via the Kiddom dashboard. Or, assign students a video or activity or link an outside resource to a Kiddom assignment to set students up to create their formulate their own list of questions to guide their learning with QFT.
Choose small groups of students to assign a video from Khan Academy and a different small group of students an article from Common Lit. Afterward, have students share what they learned with each other, allowing students the opportunity to be the master and expert. This level of student ownership is empowering and not typically seen within the I Do, We Do, You Do framework. If students are engaging with different kinds of learning materials and can explore those together, the learning experience becomes unique and exploratory for all.
More Time to Connect and Inspire
The “I Do, We Do, You Do” method certainly shouldn’t be retired entirely, but teachers should challenge themselves to guide students to take the lead. The student-centered approaches outlined above can really remove the unnecessary stress the GRR method creates. More importantly, these approaches give valuable time to work directly with students in small groups or one-on-one. While students excitedly tackle their own interest-based projects or explore questions they created, teachers get to focus on connecting with and inspiring students. Note that with the Kiddom platform, the most important work still takes place in the classroom, via interactions with students. Sound education technology should expand these interpersonal experiences. These are the experiences students learn from and remember most. Happy teaching and learning!
P.S. If you’re looking for one-on-one support when experimenting with these strategies using the Kiddom platform, reach out to us! We offer professional development via demos, tutorials, consult sessions, and live chat. Our team of former educators (including myself) would love to learn more about your practice and how you’re using Kiddom to work directly with your students.