Today my major work was to put together a presentation on the component of writer's workshop known as the minilesson. This is the part of workshop that most teachers feel the most comfortable doing. That's because it is the most like traditional teaching. However, many times the minilesson becomes the maxilesson. That's what I hoped to change give these teachers a clear picture of what to do with minilessons.
I will start with an overview looking at Ralph and JoAnn's book: Writing Workshop: The Essential Guide. Going over the structure of a minilesson is necessary before anything else can take place. I will compare this structure to our district's instructional framework.
I then plan to use a kindergarten piece of writing to have the participants look for what the student is doing well. They will then turn and talk to their partners and decide what they might teach from this piece...what lesson could come from it. I then will do the same thing with a piece by a third grader.
Since these teachers were instructed to bring sample student work with them, they will again work with their partners and find the strengths from the sample writing. From there they will look for what they might teach the whole class using this piece as a sample of what they might see from an entire class.
The last part of this professional development is writing a lesson. I again will model how I would take one teaching point from the original sample pieces and turn it into a lesson plan. I then will ask them to do the same with their partners.
My goal is for them to leave with a plan of action in their hands. That's the short term goal. My long range goal is for them to have the tools to look at the writing of their own students and understand where minilessons are born.