Wednesday, January 9, 2013

5 Things About...Series and 5 Things About Minilessons

Teaching workshops well changed who I am both as a teacher and as a citizen of the world. (Melodramatic, yet true.) It is such a privilege to set up a  learning environment, providing direct instruction with plenty of time for work and inquiry, for my students. Workshops involve significant rigor and are so essential to raising rabid life-long learners. 

I've been thinking a lot about how to refine and acknowledge aspects of workshop teaching, reading, and writing in the past weeks, and have decided to start a new posting series called 5 Things About... 
Here's the first musing: 

5 Things About Minilessons in Elementary Classrooms:

  1. Minilessons follow a minilesson structure. (Connect, Teach, Active Engagement, Link, Mid-Workshop Teaching Point, Share). Minilessons are 5-15 minutes long. (Occasionally 20 for upper elementary.) Runaway minilessons divert minutes away from student writing time and conferences. Knowing what students are doing and what they need next helps me plan for concise, focused teaching.
  2. Minilessons almost always happen in the meeting area. In the meeting area, books and working charts support the learners. Charts are a great resource; they can reinforce and reiterate the work of the community.
  3. Minilessons need to be mini enough to provide adequate time for work at writing spots.
  4. Minilessons provide direct teaching and establish a sense of community, identity as writers, a spirit of inquiry, and rigor. (Strategy groups and conferences provide differentiation.)
  5. Minilessons end back in the meeting area with a "share" where you reiterate or extend the teaching and/ or talk about process. Share is a confusing term-- students may or may not share writing-- and direct teaching or writing tips are offered from the teacher or fellow students to the community of writers.

I could have said more, but I also could have said less. Those were just 5 things I was thinking about minilessons...

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