Once a month our elementary teachers meet with me as I help facilitate new learning around literacy. Our building goal is centered around writing this year. To help support this goal, I am centering the new learning around writing, in particular, around the new learning I experienced out at Teacher's College this summer.
My small group leader, Katie Clements shared with us a way to get teacher's to plan a 10 minute minilesson in 10 minutes. As some of you might know, the lessons in the Units of Study books can be very long, as they are designed to have professional development embedded right in them. This can be overwhelming for teachers, though. When listening to Lucy Calkins this summer, she said if you take 60 minutes to plan a 10 minute lesson, it really is not going to be 5x better than if you spent only 10 minutes. I completely agree, but how could this really be done in a time efficient manner?
I walked our teacher's through the same process Katie walked us through.
- First you spend about 1-2 minutes reading the teaching point. It is crucial that you know the what and the how of the lesson before you plan.
- The next 5 minutes are spend getting the flow of the lesson. How does it start? Will you gather students or have them stay at their desks? Will they need to be by their partner? If you do gather, what will they need to bring? How does the teaching go? How will the active engagement go? What will be the link?
- The third step is to rewrite the lesson teaching point, if necessary. This takes 1-3 minutes. I find this is rarely going to be the case, as the teaching points in the Unit of Study books are so crystal clear. However, our 5th grade teachers found that in one of their narrative lessons, the teaching point asked students to use both foreshadowing and flashbacks. They found this was too much at once for their students and crafted two minilessons, one for each literary technique.
- Lastly, spend time filling in any parts you might need (1-2 min). Do you need to cross out parts? Add in more authentic language to make it sound more like yourself? Bring in some of your own examples?
We spend 30 minutes together during this month's literacy PD time. Our teachers' picked a partner. They each chose to plan an upcoming lesson, in succession. They then taught each other the lesson to try it out. Most teachers were very pleased to have two lessons planned and have heard the language in this short time. They now have a strategy to be efficient in planning their writing lessons.