Mme G.C. -Work in Progress

Independent Consultant sharing my learning with others. Please scroll way down to follow me!!


March 2013

GRR otherwise known as Gradual Release of Responsibility

In my role as coach and as a facilitator I have spent a lot of time explaining and more importantly modeling the Gradual Release of Responsibility. The beliefs this theory reflect are essential to creating independent, thinking, questioning students. I think it is core to who I am as a teacher but also as a parent.

Today the reality of GRR  bit me in the but, challenging everything I believe in. Am I wrong? Are the teachers who tell me they can’t do it right? Are fill-in-the-blank worksheets and silent kids really the better way?

What led me to this questioning today?

I saw my daughter off at the airport as she left with her high school travel club, to Thailand. We have raised her well. She is an intelligent, independent mature young lady, full of life and wanting to spread her wings and have some adventures of her own. She is excited to share her adventures with her peers. But she has a peanut allergy and I am terrified of letting her go.

We starting out doing everything for her, making our way together through showing her and letting her try, to letting her become more and more independent giving her both voice and choice, telling her we trusted her and believed in her.

Looking at GRR in this light makes me re-think. It would have been much easier to not let her go. To refuse to help her (cheaper too) and far less worry and stress. Keeping her at home and insisting she do as we ask would have been less stressful, for a while… but when would she start to rebel, hate home, never want to come back to such a controlled environment?

So I return to my GRR beliefs and I have calmed the wild dog. I do believe classrooms must have great models, guidance with  voice and choice, a belief  in student ability to learn with and from each other, allow for practice time and prepare them for a future we will not be a part of and cannot possibly imagine.

Today I have to trust that my daughter will use what she has learned, and that she will adapt that knowledge, learn more, grow and have adventures far beyond my imagination. She will return home with stories and photos and begin teaching me. Now that is exciting and that is the way it should be.

to the beach


Mystery Box Writing

mystery box Thanks to J.C. for sharing her grade one class with me 🙂

Mystery Box Writing is a fun way to increase both reading and writing skills. I present my “Mystery Box” and explain to the children that they have to figure out what I have in the box by asking me questions. In this case it was an item that was named in their PWIM photograph.

It is not a guessing game. If they think they know the what is in the box they must ask questions that will help describe what they think it might be. I will answer yes or no and provide some detail. They take turns so as not to “step on each other’s thinking”. The rules are


Once the children have discovered 12 details (on the yes side) to describe the object in the box, we read through to reinforce the information we have collected. This example was a first try at the Mystery Box with this grade one class. I realized that we have work to do on questioning. They were pretty stuck on colours for a while , but the questions did improve as we went along.


When we finished reading the chart together, they were pretty sure they knew what was in the box. As a group almost everyone was sure it was  ” a toque” and they were right. I pulled my toque out of the box and showed it to them.

2013-03-10 21.47.56 HDR

We compared the toque I had in the box to the toque in the photograph. We could have written a compare/ contrast paragraph together but I thought that a descriptive paragraph would be more suitable . We used the information we had gathered in the yes no chart to create a paragraph together. One little girl came up with the title and the class voted to keep it.

This is the paragraph we wrote together:

2013-02-28 11.47.48 HDRI typed up the paragraph and the students filled in the last part alone and illustrated it. They were able to practice reading the paragraph to themselves and others in order to work on their fluency as well as practice reading commonly used words.

Here are some of their paragraphs from the class book:

2013-03-07 09.09.15 2013-03-07 09.09.58 HDR 2013-03-07 09.09.322013-03-07 09.09.00

We had a few exciting days in our division. We invited the kindergarten, grade one and two  teachers down to Central Office to spend grade alike half days  together, sharing ideas for teaching word work, sentence structures ,think alouds, talk alouds for writing ,writing continuums and choosing PWIM photos with curricular connections. Teachers chose 4 of the 6 stations to go to and add new ideas to their repertoire. Each station had a little “take away” such as book marks, and other useful handouts.There was even a French Immersion section where we discussed adaptations for teaching in a second language. The room was set up in a bright,easily accessible way. Many positive comments came from this day of sharing. Thanks to the Literacy team for all the hard work!!

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