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The “I Do, We Do, You Do” : Method and In Action

Learning new skills and procedures is all part of education. Supporting students by

providing them with a demonstration of a new skill or procedure, followed by group

practice before expecting them to solo is a solid path to success for all students. This

strategy is called either the, “I Do, We Do, You Do,” approach or, the “gradual release

of responsibility framework.”

Dyslexic students will benefit from this educational approach because it allows them to receive direct instruction from the teacher first, including a demonstration of the new skill. Next, students get to work collaboratively with fellow students to “test drive” the new skill as the teacher circulates and gives supportive feedback.

This middle step of practicing the new skill with peer guidance and instructor input is especially beneficial because it provides the student with supported opportunities to develop crucial proficiency.

Lastly, the student independently puts the new skill into practice, drawing upon the experience gathered from teacher demonstration and group work to confidently and easily use the new skill.

An example of the gradual release of responsibility framework happened in Cindy’s

third and fourth-grade classroom as third graders learned to write book reviews. First,

students looked at a completed sample book review, including the planning that went

into the finished review The book being reviewed was read to the students so they

had first-hand context for the review’s content. Completed graphic organizers for both

the plot summary paragraph and the opinion paragraph gave students insight into how

the sample book review paragraphs were planned. Sample rough draft paragraphs,

drawn directly from the planning graphic organizers, demonstrated how to move from

ideas on the planning charts to complete sentences and good paragraph structure.

Rough drafts with proofreader’s marks showed students how to mark up areas that

must be corrected on the final draft.

Proofreader’s marks on the rough draft reveal two facts to students. The first fact is

that it is expected that one makes mistakes! The second is that an author needs to

find and correct their errors, which is what the proofreading step is all about. An error-

free example final copy gave students a go-by to aim toward when writing their book


Dyslexic students in particular seem to miss the proofreading step, tending

to hand in as final drafts what is really the rough draft.

Next, students worked together to write a book review for a novel they read together

during reading, Secret in the Maple Tree. The same planning charts for the summary

and opinion paragraphs were filled in with information from Secret in the Maple Tree. In

this “We Do” step, the students were working together to suggest what type of

information might go in each section of the planning chart, and then each student

made independent choices for their own charts. A similar formula helped each student

turn their planning chart items into sentences comprising the two paragraphs. Those

two paragraphs were then turned into the rough draft. Students read rough drafts to

one another to help with finding errors. There was teacher input for finding spelling

and punctuation errors, as well as formatting and suggestions for improved neatness.

Armed with this wealth of ways to polish up their final draft, students sharpened their

pencils and started writing. The resulting book reviews were truly satisfying, with more

succinct writing than is typical.

Students were now ready for the final step of the “You Do” part of this teaching

method. Independently read book chapter books were going to be reviewed by the

students using the planning and writing method that had been first demonstrated to

them and then accomplished with support from peers and the teacher. From

brainstorming captured on planning charts through to the final draft, students worked

independently. Results were not perfect, however they were very good. All students

benefitted from the gradual release of responsibility, but for the dyslexic students, it

made a vital difference!

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