Developing the Mini-Lessons & Teaching Points

Once we’ve gotten a sense of what a student or group of students need to work on, we then choose a teaching point to focus on.  That teaching point is at the core of the mini-lesson, whether you are working with a whole group, small group, or individual student.  An important thing to keep in mind for the mini-lesson is a quote I heard during a trip to the Teacher’s College of Reading and Writing, 

“The goal of the mini-lesson is to teach skills that are important to the whole class and to inspire the kids to go off and do the work.  If the kids aren’t psyched to do the work or aren’t motivated, then it’s not doing its job.  I want kids to learn something if they are motivated.”  

The key to a powerful mini-lesson is hitting the following components:

  • Connection – real-world example, invites and motivates learners to connect to concepts
  • Teaching Point  – defining the skill, strategy, and purpose (see Developing the Unit Plan post here for more details). 
  • Teach – mentor texts/activities/think-aloud used to break down how to use the strategy to meet the goal (skill mastery)
  • Active Engagement – scaffolded instruction, students are trying out the strategy in the context of the group where you can provide direct feedback
  • Link – invitation to go off and use this strategy in their independent reading today and every day! 🙂 

In addition to the work above is how you set up what comes after your mini-lesson, which is typically your:

  • Independent Practice
  • Conferring (small group and individual)
  • Sharing

Here’s Lucy Calkins talking through the goals behind a mini-lesson.  

 Capture 2018-03-31 195057The videos below will give you a chance to look at your grade level (or grade level band) and pick out each element of the mini-lesson.  As you watch, look at it through the lens of identifying how to deliver the teaching point.

Kindergarten Writing Mini-Lesson:  Kindergarten Informational Writing-Expert Teaching:  Visualizing as a Tool

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3rd-5th Grade Band Writing Mini-Lesson:  Whole Class Instruction in Opinion Writing:  Teaching for Transfer as Students Move Between Persuasive Speeches and Petitions

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4th Grade Writing Mini-Lesson

Realistic Fiction:  Revising Lesson-Acting out the Parts to add what the characters would say, tone of voice, and specific actions

5th-8th Grade Band Writing Mini-Lesson

Teaching Students to Examine Craft Moves and Author’s intent in Mentor Persuasive Essay in Order to Support Revision

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Now use this planning sheet (or the one below) to help you craft a mini-lesson based on a teaching point you know your students need right now.  

Here are a few great planning resources below:

Mollie Cura’s Resource Site not only has a mini-lesson template, but also several other planning guides, conferring, notes, and MORE!  She even has the writing workshop conference presentation from the summer.

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