Check out some videos of minilessons in action (from TCRWP)
Check out some videos of minilessons in action (from TCRWP)

To see videos of minilessons in action, check out these selected videos from the TCRWP vimeo site.

Minilesson:  (7-12 minutes)

  • Whole class instruction: 80% will be right at their level; 20% high/low, will need differentiation later
  • Make sure it stays short or kids are not getting their writing time.
  • Includes active engagement BEFORE sending kids off to write.
  • About 20% of instructional time should be spent on grammar (may need to dip into additional resources)

Inside the MINILESSON:

  • Connection: engage the students—funny stories OR simply, “We’ve been working on…., today I’m going to teach you…”
  • Name the teaching point

TEACH: Modes of Instruction

1. Demonstration: Writing in “real time” as you think aloud about your process as a writer

2. Explain an Example: Put up a piece of mentor text, study together, create vision

3. Inquiry: Very powerful method, not used for everything, Ex. “What is a good way for an author to introduce stories?”.

4. Guided Practice/Coaching: Teacher does, student does; teacher/student together, then student does, teacher watches

  • If kids don’t get it, ask yourself, “Have I demonstrated this?”


  • Important for students to try out the skill before they get off the rug—helps you plan for who might need additional support during work time.
  • 100% of kids are involved
  • Ways to Do It: (turn/talk; jot/write; think; role play; gesture; read; highlight)
  • Model hard things—practice easier things . Have them continue what you’ve started or start a part of their own writing

LINK: Reiterate the teaching point, remind them of the strategies they could use, revisit/review anchor chart, and “Off you go!”

Independent Work time: (30 minutes)

  • Students can have writing spots around the room or work at desks—what’s important is LOTS of writing time.
  • Conferring- 1:1 teaching (5-7 minutes each)
  • Small groups: Compliments, getting kids started, to teach common skill/strategy that is needed.

Mid-workshop Teaching Points:

1. More frequent in beginning of year,

2. Lots of building stamina,

3. Reinforcing good behaviors and giving the kids more strategies to keep them going.

4. As stamina builds, they can occur less frequently

5.Can also be a continuation of the minilesson (another teaching point)

SHARE (5 minutes)

  • Use time to spotlight the good work students did during writing time
  • Another opportunity to teach (NOTICE and NAME the work kids are doing…with the goal that they will be able to articulate what they are doing as writers eventually (be metacognitive).