Each mini-lesson is designed to develop a reading skill or behavior the develops reading skills through the teaching of a strategy. Remember, "Readers_________ by __________."
At the start of the year, I explicitly teach reading strategies (content) and procedures and routines (classroom expectations and behaviors). Sometimes, the simple procedures or routines can be folded in without much fanfare or drama. I'm thinking of book shopping. Students will have to shop for different reasons. It is important to realize that students reading books up to P level will need to shop much more often than students at the higher levels. Teach kids to have a short stack of books on their desk- so when they finish one book- they can read another. This is especially important for emergent readers who are reading books at the L level or below. "J" level books such as Henry and Mudge, Poppleton, Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant can be read cover to cover in less than one independent reading period. Offer emergent-third grade level readers a ziplock baggie to keep their books in or a book box- but I wouldn't insist that they use baggies or boxes. This year I have noticed that they like to read their levels J-K-L and then put them back and get more discreetly. It is different every year, depending on the make-up of your class.
Students in levels R-S-T will be reading about two books a week if they are matched correctly to genre and topic and difficulty. These readers will get started reading and stay reading for the entire independent reading period. What you'll need to do is slow them down with speed bumps (post-its). Post-iting allows students to reflect on what they just read and to determine importance and cite evidence. They can capture their thoughts about events, characters, new words- grow theories, make predictions..your mini-lesson will shape the kind of thinking you'll want your students to be doing.
The mini-lesson will always be followed by independent reading lasting from 30-40 minutes. Initially only conferring happens during independent reading. Once independent reading routines are established, the teacher is freed up to teach strategy groups as well. Book shopping also can happen during independent reading.
Book shopping is an activity that warrants strong routines, guidelines, and student expectations. It is imperative that students know how to pick a just right book because you do not want book shopping to disrupt independent reading. At the beginning of the year I have to manage book shopping carefully. I do different things to make it go smoothly. Such as letting only four students shop at a time. Pre-selecting bins of books and having them on the rug for students to pick out of. Thinking about my different readers and having suggestions in mind for them. The "Best Sellers" book talks help to get kids into great series. Right now in my class, I have a group of kids in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. These books keep a particular reader enthralled and reading.
This is an easy mini-lesson. I start by telling a little story about how things go smoothly when everyone knows what to do. I give an example from my life- such as preparing a big meal with a lot of people, and how everyone has an important job so that things get done and so we enjoy our time together..etc. Then I move into it is the same with independent reading: everyone has an important job to do and we want to enjoy our time together so it is important that you know exactly what you should be doing. "Readers read during independent reading by going straight to their seats and opening their books and begin reading."
Before class I created a t-chart. I have the title, with the two headings and the teacher side filled out. For this mini-lesson, I will only focus on what the students are doing. I want to keep the lesson short. Most student will read the side about what the teachers do- so today it is a pre-exposure of the teachers' job. Plus many kids know exactly what the teachers are doing because our school has been a reading and writing workshop school for 5 years. But it is very helpful to new students to our school to see what the teachers' roles are during independent reading. On another day I will come back to this part of the lesson. But for now I want students Reading!Reading! Reading!
I begin by literally telling students what I expect from them during the 30-40 minutes of independent reading. First, go straight to their seats and open their book and start reading. Second, stop after reading a bit and think about what is going on in the story. Write a sentence on a post-it. Start reading again and repeat.
For active engagement I ask my students to turn and talk about what are they going to do when they leave the rug and go to their seats for independent reading.
I get down on the rug and listen-in to partnership talk. I am strategic about who I get to. I make sure I check in with students I want to hold accountable for behavior. I ask them if they will share their what their partner said after the turn and talk.
I say, "Readers, I need your attention in 3..2..1. Raul, will you please share what Evan had to say about what he is going to do during independent reading? Raul will happily share, I will call on two more partnerships- the kids I want to have tabs on, then I will ask if anyone else wants to share what their partner had to say.
Before sending students off to read, I remind them of the teaching point, "Readers read during independent reading by going straight to their seats and opening their books and begin reading."
and "Readers' capture their thinking about what they are reading on post-its!" It is helpful to flash on the screen some examples of students' post-its to give students an idea of what they can look like.