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The Gradual Release of Responsibility via Google Classroom


There are some very useful features within Google Classroom that make it an ideal medium for implementing the gradual release of responsibility into your programming. Currently, we have two options for adding content to a stream within a Google Classroom, Announcements or Assignments:


Both modes of adding content can be used to help facilitate the gradual release of responsibility, as will be demonstrated below (the students in my class are currently building expertise with answering strategies used for various types of short answer response questions).

Modelled:
One option for providing students with a model of effectiveness is as an announcement. When an announcement is created, teachers have the option to attach locally stored files, Google Drive files, Youtube videos or add a link to an external website. Once a model has been attached in the desired fashion, students can then reply to the announcement. This is a fantastic way to get a snapshot of student thinking. Ask them to reply with why they think the attached model is effective. Or, consider asking them to examine the model and reply with various criteria that they could follow in order to be successful when attempting a similar task.
Feeling a little more adventurous? Share the model as an assignment. Attach the model as a Google Document and provide the whole class with CAN VIEW privileges when attaching it.

Once in the document, it's very simple to change this permission to CAN COMMENT by clicking the SHARE button. You should see the whole class listed as a group, and therefore, you only have one permission to change.

Now that students have commenting privileges, they can make their thinking visible within the model itself! With this approach, students can highlight particular components of the model that make it effective, and identify strengths by creating and replying to comments.

Shared as a Class:
Now that students have had an opportunity to see what an effective example looks like, it's time for some co-creation! This can be achieved by creating an assignment and attaching a shared task so that all students can view. Once again, when in the document, change the class group permission to CAN COMMENT by clicking the SHARE button.
In this example, the class is asked a Personal Response question which requires an opinion and supportive text evidence in order to be effective. As you can see below, I highlighted the part of the question which asks for an opinion. In the comments section I asked students to provide their own personal opinion in response to the question. They did so by replying to my original comment:
After all students had contributed an opinion we then read them all as a class. We found many similarities and consolidated our thinking into a co-created opinion. The next step in sharing this task as a class was finding text evidence to support our newly created opinion. I did this by highlighting the answer statement (AS) and, using a comment, I asked the students to identify text evidence (TE) that strongly supported our opinion:
Once again, students replied to my comment, this time suggesting potential evidence to support our co-created opinion:
Like we did with the opinion-related comments, we read through all suggested text evidence as a class and consolidated our thinking into two pieces of supportive text evidence:
We now had an effective Personal Response, authentically co-created as a class! At this point in the process, I asked students, via an announcement, to reflect upon our new exemplar and create criteria for effectiveness:
Shared in Groups:
As you can probably tell, I'm a big proponent of Google Classroom and digital collaboration in general. However, I also feel it's important for the physical walls within the classroom to reflect and support student learning. So following our Shared as a Class task, our co-created criteria was then posted in the room:
This may be a bit off-topic but I'd like to acknowledge sticky notes for a moment. They are an amazing tool for promoting co-creation, collaboration, and for making student thinking visible. They are the Google Doc comments of the physical world! As you can see in the task below (created as an announcement), I've asked students to respond to a Personal Response question in groups. When complete, groups posted their shared worked on the criteria anchor chart, as seen in the above photo.
This same task could have been done completely within Google Classroom. Either as an announcement or as an assignment. To implement the above task as an assignment I could assign individual copies of the template to all students. Only one student per group would need to open the document. The remaining students in each group would then go into the assignment details, delete the attached template by clicking the little 'x'. At this point, the TURN IN button changes to MARK AS DONE. If there was no attached template to begin with, all students would see a MARK AS DONE button until a document was attached or created.
When a group has completed the task, it is turned in by one student on behalf of the group. I encourage all groups to share their document with the whole class group allowing all students CAN COMMENT privileges. Groups that finish early can then provide feedback based on criteria to each other using the comments feature in Google Docs.

Shared in Pairs:
This final step before students independently attempt a task is implemented in a fashion very similar to the process for Shared in Groups, as outlined above.  Only one person per pair needs to open the document. The other partner should delete the document within assignment details and click MARK AS DONE. This will prevent assignments from appearing as late or incomplete.
Independent:
This is the easy part... for you - maybe not so much for your students. Just kidding! You implemented the gradual release of responsibility and have set your students up for success! This is the perfect opportunity to capture some formative assessment data which can then be used to inform upon further instruction and small group support. 
Classroom provides a few options when assessing and evaluating student work. Teachers can download selected documents for offline viewing. With one click, teachers can open individual student assignments, or open the corresponding folder in Google Drive.
There are some interesting options when it comes to marking student work. Teachers can choose from providing a mark out of 1, 20, 50, 100 or return assignments ungraded. Descriptive feedback can be included as well in the form of a comment.
These options may be satisfactory for many teachers. If, however, you prefer more robust assessment tools, such as rubrics, Google Classroom assessment may fall a bit short. If you're looking for more flexibility and depth, I highly recommend you check out Andrew Stillman's Doctopus add-on. The most recent version is compatible with Google Classroom in a most intuitive and effective way! Jenny Magiera has put together an excellent video tutorial demonstrating assessment using this add-on.

Small Group Instruction:
Data gathered from assessing students' independent work will allow you to create small groups based on common needs. Google Classroom can help you target these needs and support small group/guided instruction. We are not limited in the number of classrooms that we create with Google Classroom. I would suggest creating a classroom for each of your guided instruction groups. Invite only those students within each group to join their small group classroom. You can change these classroom access permissions accordingly as you gather new assessment data and change/update your groups.

If you feel that Google Classroom is not a good fit for your guided instruction, check out our Google Doc based system for Going Google in Guided Reading.

Google Classroom is a robust tool, full of potential yet to be explored since its recent introduction. What I've shared above is just the tip of the iceberg, but if you think some of it might work for you give it a go! And share you feedback or success stories with us @inquireinspire #googleclassroom

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