Friday, November 20, 2015

Workshop and Mini Lessons 101

This year I have the opportunity to meet with our amazing Unified Arts Teachers once a week.  During our meetings we cover a variety of topics from problem solving and schedules to technology and student data.  Throughout these sessions I'm always in awe of the talent that sits around the table and how much I'm learning from sharing time with these wonderful teachers.

This year our unified arts team meeting includes our:  music teacher, PE teacher, librarian/technology integrationist, behavior interventionist, and principal.  (We're sorry that our art teacher is not able to join us because she does not work at our school on the day we meet.)

Recently, I prepared some materials to share with this group so that they are aware of the structures, components, ideas and concepts around the Reading and Workshop Model as well as the Mini-Lesson. Following are the big ideas of each.

Reading or Writing Workshop Model Components

Mini Lesson~This is the “focused topic of the day”.  It includes a very specific teaching point or learning target.  Mini-lessons should be short-10 minutes or so.  

Independent Reading or Writing Time~The bulk of workshop.  During independent reading and writing time students develop their stamina, work on individual goals, practice the teaching point, and most importantly grow as readers and writers!

Individual and Small Group Work~This is what the teacher does during student independent work time.  During this time explicit teaching happens for individuals and small groups.  Teachers focus on helping students understand themselves as readers and writers, teach students strategies to improve a skill or strategy, set goals with students for reading and writing.

Share Time/Closing Conversations~The end of workshop time that includes a whole group conversation.  The focus is to share a skill or strategy, share something the students learned as readers or writers, or what it means to be a reader or writer in the classroom. There are many ways of sharing!

Mini Lesson Structure
The teacher and class gather on the rug or a meeting space with an easel nearby.  This is a short lesson* when the teacher teaches a very specific skill or strategy to help students become better readers and writers.  

* Keep in mind what we know about brain research.  A good rule of thumb is that 5 year olds can last a maximum of 5 minutes, 6 year olds 6 minutes, 7 year olds 7 minutes, etc.

The structure includes four components:  Connection, Teaching, Active Engagement, Link.

CONNECTION~Connect to the previous days lesson.The goal is to activate prior knowledge and focus student attention on the lesson.

  • We’ve been…
  • Yesterday we...
  • Today I’m going to teach you…
  • Because….

TEACH~Demonstrate and teach the Teaching Point/Learning Target.  What do you want students to learn today? Demonstrate and model the skill or strategy.

  • Let me show you how I…
  • Hmm...I’m thinking…
  • Did you see how I…
  • Listen to me as I think out loud…

ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT ~Students discuss or try out the skill or strategy very quickly while right at the mini-lesson meeting.

  • Quiet think time
  • Hand signals
  • Turn and talk
  • Popcorn share

LINK~State what you want students to do today during independent reading or writing time.

  • Today we learned…so...
  • Today and any day while you are reading or writing you can…
  • So, when you go off for reading or writing today remember...

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