4-step lesson template
All whole-class comprehension reading skills should be presented in mini-lessons. Teach a single, small skill within each short, 15-20-minute lesson. Lessons should be short or “mini” because students don’t get better listening to the lesson.
They don’t become stronger readers in the lesson. They get better after the lesson when they’re practicing the skill during whole-class read-alouds, small-group meetings, with a partner, and eventually on their own.
All mini-lessons must be intentionally planned. Don’t wing a mini-lesson. Use the steps below as a guide for planning your instruction.
STEP 1 INSTRUCTION: You (re)introduce the skill. [1 MINUTE]
Announce the day’s comprehension skill. CAUTION! Remember to keep the focus small. For example, you won’t teach visualization in a mini-lesson, but rather how to visualize character feelings within a scene or episode of a story.
STEP 2 INSTRUCTION: You explain & demonstrate the skill. [1O MINUTES]
Step 2 is the most important part of the mini-lesson. In STEP 2, you work alone; you do all the talking, thinking, and demonstrating. (In terms of the gradual release of responsibility, STEP 2 is the “I do, you watch” part of the lesson.) It’s the meat of the lesson, and it’s divided into two parts.
STEP 2A INSTRUCTION: Tell what. [5 MINUTES]
This part of the lesson focuses on specific instructional points related to a way readers think.
The Playbook is not scripted; it highlights potential instructional points to tell the students. You determine what to include in the mini-lesson.
In Step 2A, explain what the skill is, how it works, and why a reader needs it. To set up Step 2B, tell students how to “see” this skill in a text.
But you only have five minutes. It’s not about talking fast to fit everything in—determine what you can say in five minutes and teach only that for that day.
That’s why the “weeks” may vary in length. You may choose to teach an extra mini-lesson based on student readiness.
As the instructional information is rolled out, explain visually by building an anchor chart specific to the skill.
Step 2A ends with the transition into Step 2B, Let me show you how this type of thinking works…
STEP 2B INSTRUCTION: Show how. [5 MINUTES]
Step 2B is Think Aloud time. Model how the skill works from beginning to end with small and deliberate actions.
You work alone and do all the talking, thinking, and demonstrating. It’s your show—even if students raise their hands. In terms of the gradual release of responsibility, STEP 2 is the “I do, you watch” part of the lesson. And it is planned explicitly before the lesson.
Playing off of Step 2A, look for the text clues mentioned as a guide for this type of reader thinking. As you encounter those clues, talk about what you’re thinking.
This is not off-the-cuff thinking. Plan everything you’re going to say beforehand but make it look like you’re just thinking out loud.
During this step, reference the Anchor Chart and the different “tools” as you utilize them. Show them what you just said during Step 2A. Model what you talked about and demonstrate how to do what you just defined.
Step 2B ends with the transition into Step 3, asking the students to help with the next example.
Step 3 Interaction: They experience the skill. [5 MINUTES]
If Step 2B is the “I do,” then Step 3 is the “We do.” Or you might want to think of it as the “I do another one; you help if you can.” During this part of the lesson, model with different examples that weren’t used in Step 2 and ask students to help as they are able.
The whole class works together to apply the skill with you right there to provide support. This part of the lesson must be intentionally planned out as well. The students may or may not be able to help with the new skill. Be prepared to guide students through the additional “We do” examples.
Step 4 Closure: You crystallize the skill. [1 MINUTE]
Step 4 closes the mini-lesson and sets students up for a response activity. After the “I do” (Step 2B) and the “We do” (Step 3), it’s time for the “You do” (Step 4). Identify what you want students to do with the skill after the lesson. While reading today, I’d like you to. . .