Skip to content

I Do. We Do. You Do.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. –Maimonides

Last week, my mother took a plunge she’s been wanting to take for a long time. She traded in her old school cell phone for an iPhone. She purchased it two days before coming out here for a visit.  My mom was relying on me to teach her how to use it despite having signed up for classes at the Apple Store, .

My husband snapped a picture of us when my mom logged into Evernote on her iPhone for the first time.
My husband snapped a picture of us when my mom logged into Evernote on her iPhone for the first time.

My mother isn’t what I’d call tech savvy. She uses e-mail, surfs the internet, and has a working knowledge of Microsoft Office. But that’s pretty much it.  Therefore, I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Two months ago I taught my mom how to use Facebook.  I uploaded her photos, configured her security settings, and inputted all of her information.  Once I finished doing the basics for her, I showed her how to use Facebook. Should she wish to change her profile photo, she’s going to need to ask me to do it for her since I didn’t walk her through it. She watched over my shoulder as I did it for her.

As I reflected upon the Facebook teaching experience, I realized I needed to do better when teaching her how to use her iPhone. This time, I decided not to grab the phone to do things for her. If she was going to become an independent smart phone user, I’d have to show her how to operate it, but then gradually release responsibility allowing her to make mistakes while I stayed alongside her.  This time, I was going to employed a slight modification to the Gradual Release Method, which is one of the fundamentals of good workshop teaching.  Here’s a glimpse into what I did with my mom:

I do. — I took the iPhone and showed my mom how to do some basic things like taking photographs, entering a contact, creating a new calendar event, and doing a web search. Every time I did something I talked her through my process trying to be as specific as possible.

We do.  —  My mom took her phone back and I watched her try whatever it was I just showed her how to do.  (I had to sit on my hands a few times!)  I provided verbal prompts and sometimes asked her questions to make her think back to what I just showed her how to do.

You do.  —  My mom went off, on her own, to have-a-go with whatever I taught her how to do. I’d check-in with her frequently to see how it was going, answer any questions, etc. Plus, she knew if she had a question she could come to me for assistance.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1mChqxX.
Image source: http://bit.ly/1mChqxX.

This experience made me think back to my early days as a classroom teacher when I’d correct my students’ writing for them.  I’d take their drafts home at night, mark them up with a blue pen (since red ink was taboo) and return them the next day.  And then I’d wonder, month after month, why their spelling, punctuation, and mechanics didn’t improve.  It’s because I wasn’t showing them how to find their own errors!  Over time, I taught minilessons on editing one’s own writing. I showed students how I did it. Then we worked together to edit.  Often I’d have kids turn & talk, during the active involvement part of a minilesson, to talk about editing.  Finally, students were able to edit on their own once they had fix-up strategies (e.g., reading their work aloud, working alongside a peer editor).  Only then, when I stopped editing for my students, did I notice them take ownership of their writing and improve as editors of their own writing.

It would’ve taken a lot less time if I inputted everything into my Mom’s iCloud Calendar or her Evernote.  However, that wouldn’t have helped her become independent with her iPhone.  Doing something for someone else doesn’t help them grow.  The magic happens when we gradually release responsibility for something over time so others can flourish as a result of our teaching.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

12 thoughts on “I Do. We Do. You Do. Leave a comment

    • I, too, find them similar, Melanie. While there’s not perfect overlap for each step, I imagine the “I do” part as the “teach” part of a minilesson. The “we do” (with support) is the “active engagement.” I think 1:1 conferences and strategy lessons could be an example of the “you do, I watch” part. Finally, independent writing time is the “you do.”

      Like

  1. This is such a great post! It’s so hard not to just jump in and do something for a family member, friend, or student. We know better, but we think it’s easier at the time. Eventually, though, we realize we’ve just made our life harder in the long run! Thanks for the reminder of what we know as teachers to be the best teaching!

    Like

  2. Isn’t it interesting to use the techniques you’ve learned for teaching children on your parents? Good to remember when teaching anyone anything but it always strikes me as a little “different” when I’m teaching my mom something in the same way I’d teach my children or students. We went through the same things when my mom bought an iPad. 🙂

    Like

  3. It’s so important to remember these steps EVERY time we teach something to ANY learner. I love the picture, by the way. You look so much like your mom!

    Like

  4. Stacey,
    Two great stories: teaching your mom 1:1 and writing. I thought I was clever when I used green pens to literally “red ink” my students’ writing and also struggled to understand why the students weren’t getting any better. Thanks for including the gradual release visual. It helped me reconnect. Independent learning takes time, instruction, guided instruction in the “try it out phase” and independent practice plus a great deal of talk! Sometimes as adults in expert roles, we have to remind ourselves and literally “sit on our hands” while the learners puzzle out the task!

    Like

  5. This is a good reminder using a personal story with your mom. Yesterday, I taught my mother-in-law how to use HBO go. I made a sticky note with the steps. I did it. Then she did it while I was still there. Then she did it alone. Our students, like our mothers, want to be independent learners. I think the more we teach then release, the better they will be at life-long learning.

    Like

%d bloggers like this: