How to Use “I Do – We Do – You Do” in Teaching

By Mark K. Reha
Faculty, College of Science, Engineering and Technology

Students working on an arts and crafts project

Have you ever heard of the “I Do – We Do – You Do” teaching strategy? If this is a new term to you here is a nice definition and how this applies to teaching: The gradual release of responsibility (also known as I do, we do, you do) is a teaching strategy that includes demonstration, prompt and practice.

At the beginning of a lesson or when new material is being introduced, the teacher has a prominent role in the delivery of the content. This is the “I do” phase. But as the student acquires the new information and skills, the responsibility of learning shifts from teacher directed instruction to student processing activities. In the “we do” phase of learning, the teacher continues to model, question, prompt and cue students; but as student move into the “you do” phases, they rely more on themselves and less on the teacher to complete the learning task.

The gradual release of responsibly supports a varied approach to content, process and product over the course of a unit. Learner diversity is embraced by supporting interests, learning profiles and readiness. Gradual release is a way to apply differentiated instruction principles to all content areas of instruction as the responsibility for independent learning shifts to the learners.

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Applying I Do – We Do – You Do

One teaching strategy, as shown in the figure below, classroom illustrates the “I Do – We Do -You Do” teaching strategy. This strategy works extremely well for students who are learning new programming languages or web application frameworks, which is where my primary teaching focus is for my classes. The strategy works by first showing the students how something is done, typically by walking through code and demonstrating industry best practices (via Lectures, Videos, etc.), then having the students code a problem together with the teacher (via Hands On Activities) and then having the students solve a more complex problem on their own or in a team (via Assignments). The activities and assignments are then assessed by the teacher using standard rubrics to ensure proper learning objectives were achieved.

Final Thoughts

Although this is not the only strategy you can use in your classroom, the “I Do – We Do – You Do” teaching strategy is a very effective tool in the classroom. This strategy gives the students the opportunity to first learn a new concept along with the theory behind a concept, learn by performing actual hands on coding activities and then learning how to solve harder problems on their own or within a team. This strategy also lends itself well where project-based learning is leveraged. This strategy is highly recommended if you are teaching technical topics such as those often included as part of engineering and technology related classes.

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Strategies For Special Interventions. (2018). What is I Do We Do You Do?

Retrieved May 30, 2020 from

Levy, E. (2007). Gradual Release of Responsibility: I do, We do, You do.

Retrieved October 12, 2015, from

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). Better learning through structured teaching: A framework for the gradual release of responsibility. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.