This week in class we discussed different ways of developing mini lessons. I hadn’t thought much before about how to go about planning out a mini lesson, or how I wanted to go about putting min lessons into my classroom. We read several articles discussing different ways to set mini lessons up within the classroom, as well as watched a demonstration of a mini lesson by Penny Kittle.
Many of the articles discussed a way to plan and set up mini lessons over a period of time. This way of planning allows you to plan lessons based on what you are seeing in the needs of your students, but at the same time they are planned out around a week in advance. These types of mini lessons are more the kind that you plan to go within a unit, and it can be saved from year to year. That being said you don’t want to continually use the same mini lesson all the time. You may need to change it depending on the needs of students, or you could want to change up mentor texts based on your student’s interests.
The mini lesson method that Penny Kittle used was a little different. She has a student that approached her on a Thursday, and he was having a problem deciding where he needed to from his storyboard. So she organizes an impromptu mini lesson in which the class works with the student in order to help him come up with ways that they can continue from there. This lesson was great because it allowed the student to get ideas, but it also helped with classroom discussion. Not only that, but during the discussion the students were actively communicating about literature, coming up with ideas, and overall being amazingly creative.
After studying both of these things we were then asked which one we would use in the classroom. I would have to say that you need a balance of these two ideas. You need to have ideas for mini lessons that fit within lessons, or that can deal with specific areas that your students struggle in. You also need to be flexible. Not every lesson can be planned into a schedule. Sometimes someone asks a question that really gets the class going and you don’t want to stop it because they are actually discussing things. You have to be willing to look for situation in the classrooms that you can turn into a learning experience for everyone. It’s often those impromptu lessons that really do make a difference. For these reasons I want to include a good variety of both types of mini lessons within my classroom. I think a lot of it is just finding that balance between spontaneity and planning.