Component # 1 of Mini Lessons:
Is the connection. The definition of connection in a mini lesson is:
"CONTEXTUALIZES THE DAY'S TEACHING BY CONNECTING IT TO WORK STUDENTS HAVE ALREADY BEEN DOING."
This definiton was taking directly from A Guide to Reading Workshop by Lucy Calkins.
Let's Talk Connection...
The purpose of the connection is to connect the content of the day's teaching with the work the class has been doing. When the mini lesson is finished, we want students to leave the carpet not just with one strategy in their brains, but many strategies that have stuck with them over time. There are many ways you can help students connect with the work they are doing:
1. Ask students to recall what they have already learned and have them turn & talk, sharing the strategies they may use today.
Quick Tip: Try not to ask a lot of questions in the connection. This stage of the mini lesson needs to be as brief as possible to ensure you complete the mini lesson in 10 minutes. Also avoid asking "known-answer questions" where you are looking for a certain response. Unfortunately, sometimes students' answers are not what you are looking for so you veer off in another direction, turning your mini lesson from 10 minutes to 20.
2. Name strategies you have heard or wish you would have heard your students say to the rest of the class.
3. Reread the anchor chart and have them choose a strategy they use a lot, or have never used, or use just a little bit. (Great, quick formative assessment)
4. Create a scenario...listen to an example by clicking the audio below.
5. Share a small portion of student work
Quick Tip: Keep student work from previous years and other people's classroom to use as mentor texts the following year.
6. Share a quick story that may seem like it has nothing to do with the teaching point, but in the end, will become a metaphor for the goal of the lesson. Listen to an example by clicking the audio below.
7. Tell a true story from your own life bit by bit in the order it occurred.
Managing the Mini Lesson
Quick Tip # 1:
If you want to learn more effective classroom management strategies, one of the best ways to do this is by visiting well-established reading or writing workshop classrooms to study how they have set up routines and expectations. Ask your principal, coach, or mentor to set up a time to do a peer observation near the beginning of the school year. Here are a few lenses to look through as you are observing a workshop classroom:
How does the teacher:
- manage the mini lesson
- manage independent reading time
- manage the mid-workshop teaching
- manage partner time
- manage the share
- manage books, classroom libraries
- manage conferring/small group notes
Systems Before Mini Lesson Begins
You want to have your class set up for reading workshop before you begin. Here are a few routines you will want to think about:
- what materials will students need for the mini lesson such as books and writing pieces?
- what materials will students need for independent time such as reading logs, drafts, paper, and pencils?
- where will students gather these materials?
- how will students get their learning space ready for independent reading/writing?
- where will students read or write?
- will students need to move chairs or other furniture?
- how will you signal for students to come to the carpet for the mini lesson?
- how will you model and act out how you want your students to come to the carpet?
- what does it look like, feel like, and sound like to get ready for a mini lesson?