Instructional Approaches

Saskatchewan Reads

How do I use the gradual release of responsibility to teach reading?

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“Structured teaching requires that teachers know their students and content well, that they regularly assess students’ understanding the content, and that they purposefully plan interrelated lessons that transfer responsibility from the teacher to the student.”
(Fisher & Frey, 2014, pp. 16 – 17)


Modelled Reading
Shared Reading
Scaffolded/Guided Reading
Independent Reading

Gradual Release of Responsibility

As teachers gain confidence with the instructional approaches, teachers will find these are not sequential but recursive. The gradual release of responsibility model is not prescribed or scripted and allows for teachers to use ongoing assessments to make instructional decisions. It is also important to note that reading takes place across all curricular areas.

According to Fisher and Frey, effective teachers have engaged students in purposeful instruction designed to meet the needs of individual and smaller groups of students. A way that teachers can achieve this is by using the gradual release of responsibility model. The gradual release of responsibility model has been documented in research as an effective approach for improving literacy achievement. The teacher gradually transfers increased responsibility to the students. Teachers ensure that each step of the process is supported and that students are prepared for the next steps in learning (Fisher & Frey, 2014).

The four instructional approaches are described in the following gradual release of responsibility chart:
(Ontario Early Reading Strategy, 2003)

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instructional_approaches_chart(225x149)Saskatchewan Reads – Gradual Release of Responsibility Instructional Approaches chart (p29) pdf




Debbie Miller’s new thinking regarding the recursive approach in the gradual release of responsibility.

School Division/First Nation Educational Authority Resources

Instructional Approaches Archived Webinar

Key Elements of the Four Instructional Approaches (word)