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Mini-Lessons

I don't tell them how to draft their papers; I show them how I draft my papers.-Kelly Gallagher

Mini-lessons are an essential part of the writing workshop that typically precede the independent writing phase. During that time the teacher focuses on key skills and strategies connected to something that was noticed or observed in the classroom. What are your students producing? What are they struggling with? What do they need help with right now? 

Most mini-lessons fall into three categories:

  • Procedures and management of writing workshop;
  • strategies for producing texts through all of the; stages of the production process;
  • qualities of good writing including; writer/producer's craft, techniques, and conventions of language.

Include Read-Alouds

Reading short texts aloud, in conjunction with a think-aloud focusing on an aspect related to writer/producer's craft, makes the teacher's thinking visible. Students are exposed to a rich variety of texts, and have a chance to participate in writing workshop, they begin to notice and think about the decisions authors make. 

Model the Production Process

When teachers model their own writing or production process for students, they are showing students how to do it rather than telling them.  This helps students:

  • See a more experienced writer grappling with production decisions;
  • Understand that the process is recursive and takes time;
  • See the importance of revision decisions to strenghthen the text.

Use Mentor Texts

Mentor texts can be books, short stories, excerpts from novels, articles or poems, and are used to teach the conventions of genre, writer’s craft, style and structure. 

 

 

Additional Resources

Secondary teacher and author, Kelly Gallagher, tells us that "We must teach students to imitate model texts, before they write, as they write, and as they revise." 

Gallagher's article contains practical information for high school teachers who want to help their students make the most of mentor texts.