How Mini-Lessons Can Create Maximum Classroom Learning Experiences
Mini-lessons can and should be so much more than time-fillers. In fact, often a mini-lesson is all you need to help your students fully grasp a concept. Depending on the class and the subject matter, mini lessons can take as little as 15 minutes—but they can be worth their weight in gold when presented effectively.
Eight Components of Effective Mini-Lessons
- What is the lesson about? What does it focus on? This where you name the teaching point.
- Gather the materials you will need in order to teach the concept to the students.
- Activate prior knowledge. This is where you talk about what you taught in the previous lesson. For example, “Yesterday we learned about…” and “Today we will learn about…”
4. Direct Instruction
- Demonstrate your teaching points to the students. Act as if you are a student working independently. For example, “Let me show you how I…” and “One way I can do that is by…”
- Explain teaching points and give examples.
- Guided practice
5. Active Engagement (Guided Practice)
- During this phase of the mini lesson you act as coach and assess the students. For example, “Now you are going to turn to your partner and…”
- This is where you will review key points and clarify if needed. For example, “Today I taught you…” and “Every time you read you are going to…”
7. Independent Work
- Students practice working independently using the information they just learned from your teaching points.
- Can be individual, partner or group.
- Students share what they have learned. Ask students, “Did you use what you learned? Did it work? How will you use it next time?”
- Tie up any loose ends and use this time to further instruct.
Source: Mini-Lesson Plans: A Printable Template for Writer’s Workshop http://k6educators.about.com/od/Components/qt/Mini-Lesson-Template.htm by Janelle Cox, Elementary Education Expert
See an effectively chemistry mini-lesson in action
Even though a mini-lesson doesn’t take up much time, it can still address highly complex subject matter. At the Center for Design and Technology at Lanier High School in Buford, Georgia, students learn new content through mini-lessons and later incorporate this knowledge into project-based learning tasks.
In this video segment above, students in Dr. Margaret Rohrbaugh’s chemistry class complete a mini-lesson in which they review prior knowledge about acids and bases, and use logarithmic functions to calculate pH and pOH.
This video comes with a downloadable guidebook.