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Better Learning Through Structured Teaching:…

Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual…

by Douglas Fisher

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Fisher and Frey are champions of traditional top down teaching methods often known as direct teaching but which they term the gradual release model. They view the teacher as in command of what and how content or skills are being taught. And what they mean by gradual release is to have the student take more and more responsibility to do exactly what has been asked of them. Thus, we produce a students do do exactly what they are told to do. This is, of course, a part of real life. In many of the jobs out there, workder are given directions by their superiors and are expected to carry them out precisely and we all rely on such workers who prepare our hamburgers, make cars that work and last a long time, and construct a home that doesn’t leak. Such teaching and the resultant testing is the life blood of what goes on in many classrooms as students are given assignments and strict rubrics and follow-up assessments to ensure that mastery happens. However, such a robot workforce won’t keep a first world nation first world. There have to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, creators, inventors, and those who can see new ways of working and doing. Fisher and Frey have no room for such learners or for the kinds of technology that helps learners become creators. So, do you need to read this book? If you want a source that defends directed teaching, then this is one choice. Otherwise, as teacher librarians, we can cooperate with teachers who see the world in such terms, but we can also develop the learning commons in such a way that the opportunities for bored learners abound in our physical and virtual spaces. If you are doing the later, skip this book.
  davidloertscher | May 13, 2014 |
It is easy to dismiss this book as but another traditional behaviorist teaching methods book. Not so. The subtitle: gradual release of responsibility, is the central point of the book and the central issue for teacher librarians as they integrate the AASL Learning Standards into learning activities. For many years, we as a profession, have emphasized that by teaching information literacy, students become more and more independent learners, confident that they can attack any question, project, or problem in an information-rich world. Now, if we could just ask Fisher and Frey to refocus this book from just a classroom teacher to a co-teaching stance, this book would be a central element in our collaborative work. I wish I could reproduce their model here because it is immediately understandable and thought provoking. The steps leading from teacher responsibility to student responsibility go through the following stages: The teacher teaches a focused lesson and the student does it; the teacher guides instruction and “we” do the task; collaborative learning focuses on “you do it together;” and independent learning strategies mean “you do it alone.” Fisher and Frey demonstrate what each step is not and then proceed to demonstrate each level as they teach the reader methods to make progress from dependent learners to independent learners. If the reader can get over the focus just on the classroom teacher and stretch the ideas here to a co-teaching stance, then this is one of the best brief books of the year.
  davidloertscher | Jan 1, 2009 |
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Describes a purposeful classroom structure that relies on four phases. Included with the description of each phase are practical strategies that help teachers use this approach, plus tips on how to differentiate instruction, make effective use of class time, and plan backwards from learning objectives.… (more)

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