Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Big Step: Releasing Responsability

After modeling for a long period of time the reciprocal teaching strategy, I decided the students were ready to take it one step further. Today, I release responsibility to them. Not all the way, but I wanted to evaluate and observe what they have learned. One of the greatest things about releasing responsibility is not only to evaluate them but to analyze my own teaching skills. Once I felt they were ready, I crossed my fingers and waited in anticipation what they will do as I observed them. In my class I feel that this can be a scary moment but at the same time a milestone. I know you might be thinking its ok! But, really the way I see it can be best describe with a quote from Maria Montessori:
When the students are ready for such responsibility to be place upon them, the end product will always tell me a lot about my teaching practices and what they still need to learn. Again, it’s a perfect time for a major reflection.
So, let me share with you the excitement of today’s observation. I first started with a small group instead of the whole class. I wanted to see a smaller group first, to capture every detail from their conversations to their behaviors. The group I chose was chosen based which I expected them to do well, since they love to share all the time.
To take the reciprocal teaching strategy one step further I decided to do it in small steps. I did not want to overwhelm them, so I made four cards with the first letter that represented each of the four strategies. They randomly pick a card without knowing what it meant. I proceed to explain to them that today they will have the role of the teacher. They will also be responsible for the strategy they picked. At this point some were smiling and others were just in shock.
I proceed to do a quick review of the four strategies by using the bookmark that I made for them. After the review, I assured them that I was going to intervene if I felt they were going off topic. And this is where its gets interesting.
Student 1 began reading and halfway remembered that it was a good time to make a prediction. He then realized that he was responsible for summarizing and not predicting. He made the prediction and continued to read. I noticed that the other students were not really pay attention, they just continued to read. At some point there was just a salient silence among the group. They looked at each other back and forth confused and not sure what to say next. At this point, I had to intervene and guide them in the right direction. I decided to start again but this time kicking off the conversation and slowly disappearing in the background of their great conversations. After the push, they had some moments of glory and then it went back to the looking for the teacher.

Overall, for the first try they did their best and that is all I can ask for. I thought they were going to be chattier but instead I felt they were looking for reassurance. The start was rocky but thank goodness there is always tomorrow.
How do you release responsibility in your classroom?


  1. I haven't tried reciprocal teaching yet, but want to. My question is this:

    Do they read a chunk of text using the 4 jobs? Then swap roles and read the next chunk of text using the 4 jobs? Repeat?


  2. I love your site. I love the bookmarks. Do you have a link for them? Which grade do you currently teach?