Stacey Shubitz wrote about the Gradual Release Model on the Two Writing Teachers Blog this week.  She described the process of teaching her mother to use her new iPhone using the I-do, We-do, and You-do method.  First, she showed her how to use it, then she watched her and finally she let her do it on her own. The visual (see above) in her post is exactly what I needed to think about my own teaching in the Media Center.

The Media Specialists in my district spent many hours this year reinventing ourselves.  We met after school with representatives from Teaching and Learning and Technology to talk about what a Media Center should look like in 2014.   We created a document  we are proud of that describes our plan for teaching Technology in Grades 1-3.

During this process, there were many discussions about “teaching” technology. We talked about the benefits of letting students “figure things out” and giving them time to explore.  We concluded that the big advantage is that learning “how to figure out new technology” is a skill that they will need in this ephemeral field. On the other hand often little first grade fingers are still trying to find letters, figure out how to put spaces between words and make a “big L.”  We agreed that there are basic skills that students need to be explicitly taught.

The Gradual Release Model diagram gives me a visual as I think about how to implement technology teaching in the Media Center. For example, for students in Grade 1, it might look like this:

I do– I show them how to sign on, type, and publish on Kidblog.  I show them where the space bar is, how to make a capital letter and where the period key is.

We do– Students create and publish a blog post with me walking around and answering questions.

You do– Students create their own posts.

The Gradual Release model also helps me think about how the Media Center can best support students and teachers in the classroom. In the Media Center, I will focus more on the “I do” and “We do” and less on the “You do.” The classroom teachers will focus more on projects and less on teaching students to use technology.

This actually happened in my school last Friday.  I have been “teaching” students in Grades 3-5 to use iMovie in the Media Center.  A very creative fourth grade teacher came in to pick up her class and saw what they were doing. This sparked an idea for students to create an iMovie about their quest to find equivalent fractions around our school.  Later that day they were working on a very exciting classroom project that not only solidifies their content learning, but can be used as a tool to teach the concepts to other students.  Mrs. L. did not let the fact that she had never used the application before stop her.  She knew that student could seek help from me if needed. I was thrilled because they were applying what they learned in the Media Center to the classroom. A Win-Win.

The Gradual Release Model will guide me as the Media Center continually evolves into a place that supports our students, as well as, school and district goals in the 21st century.