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" If we want students to learn, we must show them how. Teachers engage in non-fiction inquiry choose their own topic of study, research it, craft a final report and present their findings. In my staff development work, I encourage teachers to follow the "gradual release of responsibility" model (Pearson and Gallagher 1983), explicitly presenting learning strategies and then gradually handing over responsibility while modeling and guiding."

Nonfiction Matters by Stephanie Harvey (p 5)
Also see page 53 for explanation of gradual release of responsibility model.

Sage on the Stage vs. Guide on the Side

"A good teacher knows when to act as Sage on the Stage and when to act as a Guide on the Side. Because student-centred learning can be time-consuming and messy, efficiency will sometimes argue for the Sage. When students are busy making up their own minds, the role of the teacher shifts. When questioning, problem-solving and investigation become the priority classroom activities, the teacher becomes a Guide on the Side."

The WIRED Classroom   Jamie McKenzie 

Jamie McKenzie's article The WIRED Classroom  provides a list of descriptors of the role of a teacher who is a Guide on the Side while students are conducting their investigations.  "... the teacher is circulating, redirecting, disciplining, questioning, assessing, guiding, directing, fascinating, validating, facilitating, moving, monitoring, challenging, motivating, watching, moderating, diagnosing, trouble-shooting, observing, encouraging, suggesting, watching, modeling and clarifying."

The teacher is on the move, checking over shoulders, asking questions and teaching mini-lessons for individuals and groups who need a particular skill. Support is customized and individualized. The Guide on the Side sets clear expectations, provides explicit directions, and keeps the learning well structured and productive.

From Now On The Educational Technology Journal
The WIRED Classroom Jamie McKenzie

In a thinking curriculum, students develop an in-depth understanding of the essential concepts and processes for dealing with those concepts, similar to the approach taken by experts in tackling their tasks. For example, students use original sources to construct historical accounts; they design experiments to answer their questions about natural phenomena; they use mathematics to model real- world events and systems; and they write for real audiences. 

(Herman et al., 1992, p.17)

Since April 26th, 2004


P Theroux, Teacher,
 Alberta, Canada

Updated 11/16/2011


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These web pages were assembled for teachers.  There are well over 100 pages on this site and all have a similar format. All pages that vary in appearance from  this page are linking off site to the work of others.

Every effort is made to validate the educational substance of these sites.  Please remember that the dynamic nature of the Internet requires each of us to use caution when presenting web sites to students.