In a minilesson, we work to not only demonstrate a strategy sometimes employed by professional writers, but also to provide a quick opportunity for young writers assembled before us to apply it, either in their own writing or in a co-authored class composition. This short segment of the minilesson during which writers ‘give a strategy a go’ themselves, often called the “Active Involvement” or “Active Engagement,” allows writers an immediate opportunity for application in the supportive environs of the meeting area. How can we make this part of the lesson really count?
There are many ways to teach a minilesson effectively. Many people think inquiry minilessons are stickier than demonstrations since kids “discover” things on their own. As a result, learning stays with kids longer since they’ve come to the learning on their own.
When I was a new teacher, my professors and mentors emphasized the importance of questioning as a teaching technique. We were taught to track the number and frequency of questions we asked, as… Continue reading
For many of us, especially in middle school, trying to fit all the pieces of writing workshop into, say, a 41-minute schedule, can feel daunting. How can we teach a minilesson, get our kids working, confer with individuals and small groups, provide a mid-workshop interruption, and facilitate a teaching share…all in that tight time frame?
Everything students are asked to do in writing workshop builds on effective teaching during the minilesson. It’s important to understand the basics of writing minilessons so we can write them quickly and teach our students to become stronger writers every time we bring them to the meeting area to teach them something new.
Writing Workshops have important structural components.
“Story is the basic unit of human understanding.” – Drew Dudley, Day One Leadership. We have been learning through story for thousands of years. Our innate fascination for wanting to know what happens… Continue reading
Poetry month in my opinion (and my students’) is a celebration of writing! It’s a time when we writers welcome new beginnings and hone the art and crafting of our writing skills. I watch my students take wings and write with grace and confidence during poetry month.
We’ve all likely taught ‘show, don’t tell’ lessons in our narrative units. But showing not telling can have instructional meaning, as well…
Katie Kraushaar, a middle school teacher, has six tips for keeping minilessons mini during writing workshop.
Sometimes the most effective way to help writers leap ahead, is to slow things down and take a step back.
A formula for writing clear teaching points
A strong active engagement, and a routine for informally assessing student work during the minilesson can give you the tools you need to be sure that no student leaves the meeting area completely confused.
My goal for the next few weeks is to pay close attention to kids when they leave the meeting area to start working. How many are actually trying out the new strategy? How many are going right back to their old habits? And what can I do to coach them to try new things?
There is a formula that I use, time and time again, to adapt my own minilessons. Yes, this formula helps me keep my minilessons to about ten minutes and makes planning more streamlined, but more importantly this formula helps me with one of my personal goals as a teacher: student engagement.
Are you always telling your students to add detail? To write more? Here is a sample minilesson to show them how.
There are a few weeks left in the school year. Here are some tips for working through the If… Then… books if you’d like to plan your own unit of study.
A guide to crafting your own teaching points for 1:1 conferences, strategy lessons, minilessons, mid-workshop interruptions, and share sessions.
Learn some tricks for reading the Units of Study, whether you’re new to the units or have been using them for many years.
Thinking about your demonstration texts this way can give you some inspiration for multiple ways to teach the same minilesson, to the whole class, or to small groups as follow-up.