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Friday, June 19, 2020

Readers Workshop- The Mini-Lesson

Readers Workshop begins with the mini-lesson. This is the time when the teachers explicitly teaches the students a skill or reading strategy to help them be a successful reader. The name of it should say enough, but as a teacher, I NEVER kept those things mini. Maybe I just wasn't properly informed or trained as to what this should look like.  

The mini-lesson is 5-10 minutes (see the Balanced Literacy Framework), where the teacher uses a familiar text to model and explicitly teach the skill she is informing the students about. This is where I messed up. I used to read the entire text during this time, versus using a familiar text to refer to. The mentor text that a teacher uses during this time is generally used from a previous Interactive Read Aloud. During the Interactive Read Aloud (I.R.A), the teacher refers to strategic points that have been marked for teaching purposes, such as questioning, predicting, connections, etc. The I.R.A includes high degrees of student/teacher and student/student talk to engage in the text. The mentor text for the I.R.A can be used for multiple purposes or lessons. 

The Structure of the Mini-Lesson of The Readers Workshop:

1. Connect
2. Teach
3. Active Engagement
4. Link 

Mini-Lessons begin with a connect, in which we rally students for the lesson, talk about how this lesson will fit into the work children have been doing and how it will fit into their lives as readers/writers.  We might share a tiny excerpt of student work or tell a small story that become a metaphor for the lesson we’ll teach. Next, we tell children what we’ll be teaching them. This is the teaching point.


Next, we teach children something we hope they’ll use often as they read/write. There are several methods we might use to do this. We usually do this by involving the children in thinking alone with us as we demonstrate a strategy we use to read or write . Usually, this component is structured sequentially, like a how-to text. Teachers often tuck little tips into their demonstration of the strategy.

Active Engagement:
Then, we give all children a quick opportunity to try what we’ve taught with our support, or to imagine themselves trying it before we send them off to continue reading/writing (before we launch them off to read independently/with partners). This active engagement phase often involves children practicing the strategy we’ve just demonstrated on a familiar text, and it often involves them talking with a partner.

To bring closure to the mini lesson, we usually link the mini-lesson to what the class has learned on previous days, to that day’s work-time and to children’s lives as readers/writers. The teacher may recall the major topic the class has been studying. “You already learned...and today you have one more strategy to add…”  In these ways, we make it likely that at least some children transfer the mini-lesson to that day’s independent work, and that it becomes part of all children’s ongoing repertories.

For more detailed information regarding the mini-lesson, refer to The Architecture of a Mini-Lesson, which has been adapted from Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project and A Guide to the Reading Workshop by Lucy Calkins.

To see a Mini-Lesson in action, view here at Vimeo.


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