Can anyone explain why reading workshop mini-lessons, which last only 10 minutes, take an hour to plan? What’s up with that?! Am I the only one that wishes a mini-lesson had a minimum amount of prep time? I didn’t think so. Read on, teacher friends, about how you can quickly plan your reading workshop mini-lessons faster than you ever thought possible.
Technology is Your Friend
One of the best things about teachers is their willingness to share with others. I’m not talking about Teachers Pay Teachers (which I love!), but another well-known website that you might not have considered as your go-to source for teaching inspiration – YouTube®. The world is your oyster on YouTube and that includes reading workshop mini-lessons. In my last post, I shared how you can get access to quality mentor texts through YouTube if your budget didn’t allow you to purchase the books themselves. Well, you can find mini-lesson videos on a wide variety of topics – text features, summarizing, making inferences…the list is literally endless, and more are being added every day!
Ways to Use Videos for Mini-Lessons
So now that we know the source for all our mini-lessons, how specifically can you use them? Let me count the ways…
- Preview and Discussion
- Link the video in your Google Classroom and have students watch it before the lesson as an anticipatory set. Students can also leave comments and/or questions about what was in the video. Consider using their comments as part of your classroom discussion.
- Teacher Inspiration
- Sometimes a standard that I have to teach is confusing to me or I’m not sure how to break it down into bite-size chunks appropriate for a mini-lesson. Watching how other teachers have organized the topics or presented the information can add clarity to your own lesson planning.
- Absent Students
- It’s a rare day when I have all my students for a lesson. Having a video version of your mini-lesson is a great way to help absent students get at least some of the instruction they missed. Again, share this through your Google Classroom to help them get caught up.
- Substitute Days
- I had to be out of my classroom for two days in one week and it was tough on my lesson planning! There are just so many topics and skills that I needed to teach but didn’t expect a sub to introduce. Using a video is something a substitute can easily do and they will probably appreciate it if you include one (or two!) in your lessons.
At a recent professional development day, our speaker quoted from Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina. (Click here to read a summary of each of the twelve rules.) The brain remembers visual information better than in any other form. One key quote from the research: “We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.” Combining your in-person, in-class instruction with the power of visual media makes a more lasting impact on students’ learning than a traditional teacher-only presentation.
Elements of Poetry Example
Here’s an example from my own classroom. Our learning goal for the week was to identify the elements of poetry. I gathered poems (in books and from online sources), found an anchor chart (thanks to Pinterest), and wrote out my daily mini-lessons. I even assigned poems for students to read through my ReadWorks® account. Then I went to YouTube and found just the video I needed to make my plans complete. Check it out…
Using Videos for Reading Workshop Mini-Lessons
Before you get started, let me give you a few tips to make the process more efficient…
- Use Your School Google Account
- Remember, Google tracks what you watch and offers related content you might be interested in viewing. What you watch on your personal YouTube account may not always be what you want appearing on your computer at school. Not that it’s inappropriate, but it might not be school-related content that you want your students seeing. I use my school Google account to search for lessons and I use my personal Google account for personal interests. It’s easy to switch between different accounts whether you’re using the app or working on a desktop computer. Click on the picture in the upper right-hand corner. Click on the arrow pointing down next to your name. Then click on the account you want to use.
- Create a Playlist on YouTube
- This bookmarks and saves your favorite videos for watching later. Playlists are like file folders where you can store videos with a common topic or purpose. For example, I have a playlist titled “Reading – Text Features.” Organizing your videos makes it easier to find them when you need them.
- Check the Quality
- Of course, make sure you watch the video yourself from start to finish to ensure the quality meets your expectations. Some videos are geared more towards teachers as a form of online professional development. Other videos are made for students. Choose the one that works best for you.
Do you use videos for your reading workshop mini-lessons? Share your favorite lessons in the comments below. Happy Teaching! ~ Sally