Explicit Instructions

Self expression & acting

Explicit Instructions & Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) Model


Explicit Instruction

When teachers at WLPS adopt explicit teaching practices, they clearly show students what to do and how to do it. They decide on learning intentions and success criteria, make these transparent to students, and demonstrate them using worked examples and modelling. The teachers check for understanding throughout all stages of the lesson. At the end of the lesson, the learning intentions and success criteria are revisited (Hattie, 2009). Explicit teaching has an effect size of 0.57.

Explicit instruction is underpinned by:

  • the information processing model, which suggests that learners only remember what they think about and keep thinking about, and
  • the cognitive load theory, which suggests that there is a limit to how much new information the human brain can process and how much can be stored in long-term memory.

Explicit instruction can be contrasted to learning that is based on constructivist theory, such as inquiry-based learning or discovery learning.

The WLW of adopting explicit teaching practices is by using the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model (GRR). This is a regular feature of most literacy and numeracy learning experiences across the school.

The Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) Model

The goal of the GRR framework is to give students the best opportunity to successfully master new skills and strategies by providing them with appropriate levels instruction. It involves the slow and intentional shift from teacher-centred delivery to student-centred independent practice and application. It is also known as the ‘I do, we do, you do’, or the ‘show me, help me, let me’ approach.

I DO – Teachers lead instruction as students observe

This phase of the GRR involves orienting students to new material and providing them access to the new concept or skill. It may include:

  • stating the purpose for learning
  • setting learning goals/intentions
  • making expectations and success criteria explicit
  • activating prior knowledge
  • modelling and demonstrations
  • offering examples and explanations
  • explicitly using academic vocabulary and a word wall

WE DO – Teachers guide instruction as students participate

Guided instruction is the main feature of this phase, where students are given the opportunity to master each step one at a time. Teachers may:

  • lead students through differentiated practice examples, one step at a time
  • encourage students to demonstrate their understanding of the new learning, under direct supervision
  • provide immediate feedback and correction

YOU DO – Students practise the new skill/strategy, collaboratively or independently

In this phase, students are engaged in differentiated, meaningful activities which allow them to practise or demonstrate their knowledge of the concept and perform the skill, without assistance from the teacher. They do this independently, with partners, or in small groups. At the end of this phase, students are encouraged to evaluate their own progress according to the success criteria or learning goals and share their work.

The implementation of the GRR framework is not always linear – teachers monitor and respond to the immediate needs of students and may move back and forth between the phases as required. Use of the GRR allows teachers to teach the same concept to students but to cater for a diverse range of abilities by differentiating at the point of individual practice.

The GRR framework is not ‘scripted’.

The effect sizes that are related to explicit instruction are:

– Explicit teaching strategies – 0.57
– Appropriately challenging goals – 0.59
– Worked Examples – 0.57
– Spaced Practice – 0.60
– Teacher Clarity – 0.75

Other Theories of Learning

The WLW does not prescribe the use of explicit instruction for all lessons. At WLPS, teachers use explicit instruction when background knowledge is low, or when tasks are complex and need to be broken down into ‘manageable chunks’. At their discretion, and using their professional judgement, our teachers may choose to plan for other types of learning (for example, inquiry-based learning). Constructivist approaches such as this, also have a place in our classrooms. They personalise learning, emphasise the active construction of knowledge and enable students to come to their own unique understandings of what is being taught.