Gradual Release of Responsibility

Week 2 Discussion

Gradual Release of Responsibility

Part 1

What evidence did you observe in Ms Wessling’s video that her students were becoming thinkers? 

During the video I observed how the teacher used opportunities to check each student’s thinking process while moving around as they learned at their own pace. Although students came up with different perceptions about the topic, this still allowed them to be owners of their learning and the teacher was able to assess what they knew individually. I believe this is a great way for students to gradually build from the guided practice, to collaborative learning, and conclude with their own independence practice. 

How is this example of the teacher assessing FOR learning?

I believe that Ms. Wessling is assessing for learning throughout the video. For example, she has the students summarize a reading with 5 key words and then justify those words with relation to the story. During the Gradual Release of Responsibility, she has opportunities to gauge students’ learning and depending on their comments and assignments, the future learning of that student is adjusted. 

Part 2
Dylan Williams five strategies includes, sharing the direction of learning, discovering current knowledge and skills, giving feedback, utilizing students to help one another learn and making students the owners of their learning. 

Describe what you observed from Ms. Wessling’s video that represents each of these strategies. 

Mrs. Wessling’s classroom illustrates each of these strategies. 

What evidence was there of Ms. Wessling’s students examining their own thinking?

  • First, she covers the objectives for the day so students knew where they were headed. 
  • Second, Mrs. Wessling was constantly checking student’s understanding in various forms of formative assessments while implementing sticky notes to explain thought process. 
  • Third, she gives feedback during the guided practice phase. 
  • Fourth, the collaborative learning phase allows students to learn from one another. 
  • Finally, Mrs. Wessling is gradually pushing students to become owners of their own learning using the Gradual Release Model.

What evidence did you find to suggest she designed her instruction to meet instructional learning objectives in several areas of development (Think Bloom’s)?

  • Mrs. Wessling’s students examined students thinking several times throughout the video.  For example, the sticky note activity (also a formative assessment) requires students to examine and explain their thought process rather than repeating something from the reading. 
  • And the questions’ she poses to her students requires them to examine their own thinking.

The learning activity that requires students to summarize the reading in 5 words falls in Bloom’s remembering—define, duplicate, list, memorize, recall, repeat, reproduce state.  And the sticky note activity has the students analyze their own thinking which is a level 3 in Bloom’s Taxonomy, appraise, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test.

What did you see from her video that you’d like to try (remember best practices are transferrable across grade and age levels)?

Mrs. Wessling’s teaching style and methods are admirable and I would like to experiment with the 5 word summary activity.  I have tried doing a graffiti wall before which is fundamentally the same.  An adjustment I would make to the learning activity would be that I would have a list of 15-20 words that are unfamiliar.  The students would have to look up definitions and decide which 5 they believe summarize the reading best.

Hawker Brownlow Education.  (2012, April 1). Embedded formative assessment – Dylan Wiliam [Video file]. Retrieved from

Teaching Channel. (2011). Improving practice with Sarah Brown Wessling [Video file]. Retrieved from

Week 2 discussion 2

Embedded Formative Assessment

In this video, the whole process begins with the end in mind.  The instructional coach recommended that teachers start by asking themselves ‘What do you want your students to learn when they walk away from here?’  The answer to this question will become the objective written in a specific, skill-oriented and measurable manner.  Once the objective is created, the teacher designs the most effective formative assessment that assesses and provides insights into student learning.  Furthermore, the instructional coach was constantly asking the new teacher how each phase of her gradual release lesson plan was getting the students closer to reaching the objective.

During this video, the teacher’s pacing was off and affected the assessment process of her students.  A structured instructional plan would benefit her for several reasons.  First, it would require her to evaluate the appropriate time length of specific learning activities prior to implementing them.  This benefit would be another example of keeping the end in mind.  In addition, it allows the educator to make quick adjustments if one learning activity is shortened or extended.  For example, a mini-lesson that is extended by 5 minutes due to student questions may require the collaborative learning phase to be shortened by 5 minutes so that the teacher can still assess for learning through the independent practice—aka formative assessment.  Without a structured instructional plan, a teacher risks running out of time for the assessment which happened in this video.

Teaching Channel. (2013). New teacher survival guide. Planning [Video file]. Retrieved from