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Apr 1, 2015
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Focused Mini Lessons


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What Is It?

A mini lesson is a short lesson with a narrow focus that provides instruction in a skill or concept that students will then relate to a larger lesson that will follow. A mini lesson typically precedes reading workshop or writing workshop, but it can serve as an introduction to a social studies, science, or math lesson. Mini lessons can be used to teach particular skills, extend previous learning, create interest in a topic and generate questions, or introduce strategies.

Why Is It Important?

As Lucy Calkins explains in The Art of Teaching Writing, the mini lesson allows a teacher to convey a tip or strategy to students that they will use often (Calkins 1986). Sharing tips and strategies in this way allows students to gain valuable, relevant skills on a regular basis without spending too much time on drill and worksheets that might otherwise be used to teach the same skills. The lessons can focus on any number of topics, including reading, writing, problem-solving strategies and skills, or even classroom procedures. Using authentic student work as a springboard, teacher-created mini lessons can serve the needs of students by focusing on a single topic across multiple instructional levels.

When Should It Be Taught?

The mini lesson serves as a lead-in to a larger lesson in just about any subject area and can be as short as 5 minutes or as long as 15 minutes.

What Does It Look Like?

The mini lesson may be taught to a whole class, a selected small group, or individual students. The mini lesson should be short and focused on one strategy, skill, or concept. Teachers introduce the topic; demonstrate the strategy, skill, or concept; guide student practice; discuss the topic; volunteer more examples; and talk about what was taught. At the end of the mini lesson, teachers should give directions for the next activity, the literacy centers, or independent assignments.



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Highlights

Children's Choice Book Awards
We love books! Encourage students to vote for their favorite children's book, author, and illustrator of the year at Funbrain and Poptropica. Teens can make their picks too. Read the complete list of nominated books, as well as related activities, and get voting!

April Calendar of Events
April is full events that you can incorporate into your standard curriculum. Our Educators' Calendar outlines activities for each event, including: April Fool's Day (begins 4/1), Passover (begins sundown 4/3), Easter (4/5), Name Yourself Day (4/9), Encourage a Young Writer Day (4/10), Library Week (4/12-18), Volunteer Week (4/12-18), Holocaust Remembrance Day (begins sundown 4/15), Poison Prevention Week (4/15-21), Earth Day (4/22), Tell a Story Day (4/27), International Jazz Day (4/30). Plus, celebrate Deaf History Month (3/15-4/15), Mathematics Education Month, National Poetry Month, and Youth Sports Safety Month!

Teaching with Comics: Galactic Hot Dogs
Reach reluctant readers and English-language learners with comics! Our original teaching guides to the Galactic Hot Dogs comic series (chapters 1-4 and 5-8), as found on Funbrain.com, will take students on a cosmic adventure while engaging their creative minds. Plus, find even more activities for teaching with comics, featuring many other classic stories.

Poptropica Teaching Guides
Poptropica is one of the Internet's most popular sites for kids—and now it's available as an app for the iPad! It's not just a place to play games; each of the islands featured on the site provides a learning opportunity. Check out our teaching guides to four of Poptropica's islands: 24 Carrot Island, Time Tangled Island, Mystery Train Island, and Mythology Island.