George Lucas Educational Foundation

Is "modeling" outdated?

Is "modeling" outdated?

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This great question came from a Facebook Fan, Amy G. She asks,

"When implemented the right way, is gradual release of responsibility (aka "I do, we do, you do" model) considered a best practice? We have lots of new teachers at my school this year and I heard some of them talking about not using gradual release of responsibility anymore, and I starting wondering if I was teaching in an outdated way!"

I pointed her to a similar discussion on this blog, Tools for Teaching: How to Transform Direct Instruction, but would love our community's input as well: Do you use modeling? How/when do use it? How does it compare to other instructional strategies, such as inquiry-based learning?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Deven Black's picture
Deven Black
Middle school teacher-librarian in the Bronx, NY

The way one teaches has to be effective for your students and comfortable for the teacher. If you are comfortable modeling and it works for your student, who cares if it is the current rage or retro?

Each teacher has to find her or his groove and adapt it to the students in the room. If you find modeling is not working, try something else. Try something else from time to time anyway, just for variety and to keep things fresh for yourself and your students.

Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.

totally agree with Mr. Black. This is why teaching is indeed brain surgery. You never know what's going to happen from second to second, hour to hour, year to year. You just don't know. You can't say you're going to use direct instruction and just do it regardless. This is the problem today, a huge problem with the so called reformers of education. They are treating education like a business. Product, product, product. one road to get there. The beginning teacher will flounder because they are learning, just like the students. It takes years to be able to make a 90 degree turn in front of 25 eight year olds without losing traction.

Whatever works, do it. Even if it's not in the script.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

I'm going to say something that might be a little bit provocative here: I think a teacher's approach to teaching - their pedagogy, if you will - has to be based on research-based evidence. It's a sad fact that the most important influence on a teacher's teaching style is the way they were taught at school. When you think about that, it's like 4 years of university is wasted if teachers are just going to teach the way they were taught. To my mind, too many teachers adopt a model that 'feels right' but don't engage in the process of critically evaluating whether it works. Whatever else you say about modelling, there is some evidence that it does work (although not for all students, and not all the time...)

Kathy Melendez's picture
Kathy Melendez
Mid. School lang/lit, STEM, Albuquerque, NM

Modeling is definitely in. CCSS almost demands I. I have used it for years, because more often than not 7th grade brains do no connect the text or lecture until they see a model.

Clara Galan's picture
Clara Galan
Former Social Media Marketing Assistant for Edutopia

In the classroom, I like using a combination of modeling methods (in foreign language modeling grammar and pronunciation) combined with inquiry-based methods (students drive their own questions about culture, vocabulary and develop what they want to learn). I found these two great blogs on both subjects: 1. "Modeling: Essential to Learning" by Karen Lea, a Math teacher:, and 2. "Fostering a Culture of Inquiry" by Suzie Boss, journalist, speaker and PBL advocate: :)

Michael's picture

I'm with the last three commenters: look at the research, modeling works and use it in combination with other strategies.

Stacie's picture

I model all the time for my students. I also teach Kindergarten. At the beginning of the year we have to model everything from sitting at the carpet to how to line up. I also agree with anther poster, what works for you one year might not work the next year.

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