The architecture of a mini-lesson is a topic that came up several times over the past week at the Reading Institute , not as something taught to us, but as a topic that was taken for granted to be already understood. I remember when I was at TC in March for the Literacy Coach Institute and I had such an “ah-ha” (or maybe “duh” depending how you look it at) moment myself about the mini-lessons, so I am going to share it here.
The structure of all mini-lessons is the same. If you have read Units of Study for Teaching Writing, you already know that. I did already know that, when it came to writing, but I came to a different understanding of it in March. Not only are the parts of the mini-lesson the same for a writing lesson, but they are the same for everything the teach, whether it be a Unit of Study in Reading, a math lesson, or even something at home you are trying to teach/explain to your children (or even your husband-Don’t clue him in if you are!)
Connection-Remind them of what they’ve learned/been taught yesterday (or recently).
Do not make the mistake of asking, “Who can tell me what we learned yesterday?”. You don’t want cognitive dissonance-which often happens if a student volunteers a wrong answer and you keep calling on them until you get the answer you want.
Teach-Explicitly tell them what you are going to teach them and demonstrate what they are going to do on your own work or a shared text, such as the class read-aloud
Active Involvement (sometimes called Active Engagement)-You are scaffolding the children by providing an opportunity to do what you just modeled, either by themselves, or often with a partner (turn and try it). You want to vary the active engagement so it is not always stop & jot or turn & talk. Also try stop & think, stop & list, stop & act out, or any other that works for your students.
Link-link this to the ongoing work they’ve done and remind them how they should use/try what you taught them in their independent work
It is not just writing lessons, or just reading lessons, that can use this structure, it is all ways of teaching.