Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Reading Workshop Mini-Lesson Part Two

This week I am going to talk about the architecture of an effective reading workshop mini-lesson. Part one of this blog post is right here.

When I attended the Teacher College Institute, the instructor did not spend a great deal of time going into the nitty gritty of the mini-lesson, but used this framework throughout the training.

Christine would quickly grab books and zoom right in with a captivating story (The Connection) and be explicit about what she wanted us to do by demonstrating with a book (Teach). She seamlessly had us actively engaged in what she was teaching (Active Engagement) and left us with a clear picture of what we just learned and how we can apply to our teaching (link).

Teaching using these steps is second nature to her. Christine shared with us the important of using this structure because

•    It helps kids learn
•    Kids love repetition
•    Students will gain confidence by anticipating what will come next

A personal goal of mine this year has been to use this mini-lesson format each day. Since using this structure of teaching, I feel like it has helped me organize my teaching lessons and be more explicit in what I am teaching.

Here is an example of what a mini-lesson would look like in kindergarten

The Mini-Lesson (10-15 minutes)

Today’s Lesson

Readers solve words by thinking about what looks right, sounds right, and makes sense.

1. Connection (Tell a Quick story)

Boys and girls yesterday during reading workshop, Bobby did a great thing I want to share with you. He was reading this book in his book bag called Pup-Pup-Puppies. When he came to the part of the book (holding the book and showing the page to the class), he read
“Puppies cooddle up to sleep.  Bobby stopped and said,
“Hey wait a minute that doesn’t sound right.”
Bobby put his finger under the word that didn’t sound right while thinking.

Bobby went back to the beginning of the sentence and reread the whole sentence again. Now he read,  “Puppies cuddle up to sleep.”

2.   Teach 

 Readers, today I want to teach you how to make your reading sound right.  I am going to read this big book to you. When I read this book to you, it should sound the way a person would talk. If when I am reading I notice it doesn’t sound right, I am going to go back and reread it again.

Read a sentence and use a word incorrectly. Then think aloud about how the word you chose does not make sense in the sentence.

I chose a word with the same initial letter, like dig for dog.
Then go back and reread the sentence correctly. 
Do this on a few pages reading aloud and thinking aloud.

The words you are reading should sound the way a person would talk. If when you are reading, you notice that it does not sound right, go back and read it again ask yourself did I leave a word out? Did I say the words? Does it sound right?

Tip: You should name the teaching point many times throughout the whole lesson.

Helpful Language: Watch me as I...

4. Active Engagement

Readers, we are going to try this strategy together using the book Wilma and The Pig.

I am going to read a page.

At the end of my sentence have a thumb up if the words in my sentence sound right. Have thumbs down if the words in my sentence do not sound right.

If the sentence did not make sense, turn and talk to your neighbor about what word should be there to make it sound right!

5. Link
What we did together today you can always do when you are reading.

You can reread when you get to a tricky part and check what you read, asking yourself, Does it sound right? Does it make sense? Does it look right?

Tip: Connect the learning to independence


Today readers, I taught you that when you’re reading it is important that you ask yourself if what you are reading sound right. If it doesn’t sound right, you need to fix up the mix-up! Owen could you share with the class what happened when you were reading today.


The second thing I learned at the workshop was how to organize shopping for books.

1. Each child is assigned a day to go shopping for books.

2. The books will stay in the child's book baggie for one week.

3. Each child is assigned a colored dot for selecting books(leveled   by me).

3. Books students receive during guided reading will stay in this bag too.

4. For example, if Owens’s shopping day is on Monday, he will take all of his books out (on Monday) and replace them with 6-10 new ones.

5. When trading books from their baggie students put the guided reading books from the teacher in one bin, and the dot books get put in another.

6. Students should have roughly 10-13 books in their bin. 

7. If a child is reading longer text, they have 4-5 books.

8. Students can also put in LOOK BOOKS. 

9. Students can also read their Poetry/Song Notebooks during Read To Self and Read To Someone.

10. Students go shopping for books at the beginning of the workshop.

11. Students begin shopping for books when they are in a level C/D.

On Fridays we have what we call FRIDAY FAVORITES, the students are allowed to sign up to share something they have worked on during reading workshop time. They just put a Post-It on the board with their name on it. 

Shopping for books is written in Kathy Collin's book Growing Readers 

They can share anything!

My class this year loves to read/sing songs from their Poetry/Song Notebooks. Nellie Edge has some wonderful suggestions for poetry notebooks.

My class still share songs from October. Students are allowed to share with anyone in the class.  Sometimes we perform for the class across the hall, and my students LOVE that! 

I am always surprised by the partnerships when I let students decide who to share with. 

Lucy Calkins is supposed to be coming out with a book this spring on mini-lessons for the K-2 classroom!

If you are using the mini-lesson format, I would love to hear what you like about it and what you may find challenging.


  1. This is very helpful. I have been looking for a reading workshop resource, especially for mini lessons. Thank you for taking the time to post about this.

  2. Joanne, I am so glad this post was helpful! !Melissa

  3. You described the lesson accurately & concisely. Thank you for sharing your craft.
    What are your favorite big books?

  4. Mary,
    I love the old big books...Dan the Flying Man, Mrs. Wishy Washy, The Meanies etc., But big books are so expensive that I will use any !! Heinmann has some big books (but they are not HUGE) that go with their LLI can buy them, so I hope my school gets some of those next year. Melissa


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