If you’re using reading workshop in your classroom, the mini lesson is one of the most important parts. It is the direct instruction time before your students go off to read independently. You have 10-15 minutes to model the skill or strategy your students will be working on for the day. Here are some tips to master the reading workshop mini lesson.
Master the Reading Workshop Mini Lesson
Tip #1 – Set up a comfortable space for your mini lesson.
You should have a space in your classroom that is set aside for mini lessons. I have a carpet right beside my classroom library. We gather in that space every day for our mini lesson.
Here are some helpful things to have in your mini lesson area:
- An easel – This is the perfect place to display your anchor charts.
- Chart paper and markers – These are necessary for creating your anchor charts.
- Clipboards – Some days your students will need to bring papers with them to the mini lesson area. Clipboards are helpful if they need to write on their papers.
Find out about some other helpful materials for reading workshop.
Tip #2 – Give your students reading partners for the mini lesson.
During the mini lesson, you are going to want to give your students opportunities to turn and talk. If they already have a reading partner to talk to, it makes this process a lot quicker.
At the beginning of each quarter, I change my students’ partners. That way, they get to talk with new people. I try to partner my students with others who are at a similar reading level. That way, if they have to work together for a lesson they are able to partner read the same book.
When my students move to the carpet, they sit next to their reading partner. That way, when I say, “Turn and talk,” they are ready to go.
Tip #3 – Choose one skill or strategy as the focus of your mini lesson.
Your mini lesson should only last 10-15 minutes. In that time, you need to introduce a strategy, model it for your students, and send them off with something to do independently. You don’t have time to teach a lot of different things.
I start by looking at the standard I want to teach. I break it down into smaller pieces and spread it out over a week. That way, I don’t overwhelm my students with too much information, and they are able to practice one specific thing each day.
You can download a reading workshop planning sheet at the bottom of this post.
Tip #4 – Choose a picture book to model the strategy.
In your mini lessson, you aren’t going to have time to read an entire book or even a full chapter of a longer book. I choose a picture book that has great examples of the strategy I’m teaching that week. Then, I break it into a few sections so I’m only reading a little bit each day.
I usually start out my mini lesson by reading a few pages from the picture book. Then, I use it to model the strategy we’re learning.
If you have a separate read aloud time, that’s the perfect chance to read a chapter book. You can even continue practicing the strategy in the chapter book.
Tip #5 – Create anchor charts your students can use when they are working independently.
After your mini lesson, you’re going to expect your students to practice the strategy independently. It’s very helpful if they have a model to refer to during that time.
During your mini lesson, create an anchor chart with any new vocabulary words you discuss and an example of what your students are expected to do by themselves. That way, when you’re meeting with strategy groups and doing conferences, they won’t have to interrupt you to ask what they are supposed to do.
Tip #6 – Give your students a job to do during their independent reading.
At the end of your mini lesson, you should tell your students what you want them to do during their independent reading time. They should be practicing the strategy you modeled during the mini lesson.
There are several different ways you can do this:
- Have your students answer a question on paper.
- Give your students post-it notes to mark a spot in their books.
- Give your students an index card to stop and jot as they read.
I always put a slide on the board that explains what I want my students to do for the day. That way, they can just look at the board to see what question they have to answer or what I want them to mark. They can also look at the anchor chart for a sample response. That really cuts down on the number of students who interrupt my strategy groups and conferences.
Tip #7 – Keep your mini lessons mini.
For me, the hardest part of teaching mini lessons is keeping them short. When I first started using mini lessons, they went at least 20 minutes. Then, I started setting a timer for 15 minutes and forced myself to be done in that time.
The goal is for your students to spend most of reading workshop time reading just right books independently. Plus, you’ll lose their attention if your mini lesson is too long.
I realized that creating my anchor charts during the mini lesson was taking up a lot of my time. I started making them beforehand and just adding my students’ ideas to them during the mini lesson.
With time and practice, you’ll find ways to cut things out or do things ahead of time to make your mini lessons shorter. The ideal time your mini lesson should last is between 10 and 15 minutes.
Reading Workshop Mini Lesson Plans
If you’re not sure where to start when you’re planning your mini lessons, stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store and pick up lesson plans for your grade level.
Each bundle includes:
- A week of lesson plans for each standard (These are growing bundles, so all of the standards aren’t available yet. Purchasing now will save you money, since the price goes up each time I add a new standard.)
- Detailed, easy-to-follow mini lesson plans
- A Google slideshow to walk you through each mini lesson
- Suggestions for strategy groups, conferences, and a share
- Sample anchor charts
- Student response sheets for independent reading time
- An end of the week assessment to see which students have mastered the standard and which students need more practice
5 Days to a Successful Reading Workshop
Are you just getting started with reading workshop? Do you want some help setting it up? Join me for a 5-day email course where I’ll give you all the tips you need to Rock Reading Workshop.
Just sign up by clicking the link below.
- Access to a private Facebook group
- A week of free reading workshop lesson plans for grades 1-5
- 5 emails with step-by-step directions to set up your reading workshop.
Want more tips to make teaching less stressful? Sign up for the Teach Without Tears newsletter below, and join our private Facebook group to ask all your questions.
What Do You Think?
What do you think is the hardest part of teaching mini lessons?
Let me know in the comments below.
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Plus, plan the 4 key parts of your reading workshop with this editable planning template.