Reflection: Gradual Release Natural Selection in the Wild - Follow up - Section 5: Collaborative


My journey in using Gradual Release has been about two main themes, clarity and cognitive load.   Here I am going to talk about clarity.

Clarity is one of those things that teachers take for granted. I remember years ago being very frustrated with students that they didn't know what page we were on. I said to them, "Look guys, I've told you three times what page we are on and it is written on the board. What's the deal?" Of course it took me years to get an answer. The answer to what page are we on is often not about a PAGE number but about clarity of task. Students that don't understand what they are supposed to do, can't follow simple directions and feel out of control. With nice compliant children, you might not even realize that the students don't have clarity. They will quietly ask another student, look worried, do the wrong task or just copy from someone. With more impacted students lack of clarity looks like disengagement, acting out, or being disruptive.  

Bringing clarity to tasks is not easy. We think we are being super clear but the truth is we are not. The best way to understand this is to turn it around. How many times have you sat in professional development vaguely following along and then are suddenly faced with a task you have no idea what to do with? When we are trying to teach with clarity, we need to go super above board. Students need to know the basic directions, they need the why behind those directions, they need the directions written down so that they can reference them, they need to see you modeling how to follow the directions and hear your thinking, they need to feel safe starting to follow the directions and feel like they have the community behind them.

This is one reason I like gradual release so much. It is designed to bring clarity to tasks and work. It is designed for students to truly grasp the thinking and skills they need before being forced to try it on their own. By following gradual release you will see more and more students participating, not necessarily because your lessons are more fun or exciting, but that students can now engage in learning without fear. 

  Gradual Release: Clarity
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Natural Selection in the Wild - Follow up

Unit 11: Adaptation: Natural Selection in the Wild
Lesson 4 of 8

Objective: Students will be able to analyze the adaptations necessary for organisms' survival.

Big Idea: How do organisms survive in the deep ocean? Students study an extreme environment and analyze successful adaptations.

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1 teacher likes this lesson
Science, natural selection
  45 minutes
deep ocean
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