Today's literacy classrooms feature structured minilessons that are powered by direct teaching delivered through tight,quickly paced instruction by skilled teachers. The minilesson is often demanding on the teacher and on the students, as well. Yet, there is great value in its use. Learners who are the target audiences for minilessons, must be self-managing and responsible listeners who can quickly receive information demonstrated, and then turn it around in a quick practice called a "try it" as they apply the skill as best as they can.
Students must listen with intention in a minilesson.Following the 7-10 minute teaching time,they are expected to use what they have seen and heard to springboard into their own application of a literacy skill.
The type of listening children need in order to be successful in a minilesson is "Accountable Listening". Much like the current educational strategy of "Accountable Talk", this type of listening produces result in a short period of time!"Accountable Listening" can be taught to children as young as kindergarten age through any of the following avenues:
The Eyes Have It!
Train students who are gathered for a lesson to look you in the eye. Keep searching your group to engage eye contact in a way that reaches all eyes. Comment and praise those who make eye contact! I usually send a lot of Eye Messages in a lesson , and often remind students that I see their eyes, but am judging their ears!
Thinking for Inking!
Pattern students to move through kinestetic behaviors, like a think system sign. Train students to point to their brains when they feel they are understanding the skill. Demo this for the group in a think aloud fashion. Tell them they are not only cogitating...but they are Thinking for their Inking!
Teach a sound word, or an anchor word that can punctuate the lesson. For instance, If I say, " Do you get it?" regularly in my lesson, I teach the group to shout as a chorus," Got it!" Use this often in lessons to keep energy and connection high.
As students gather, have them identify their elbow partner for the day: the person next to them. During the lesson, you may stop once or twice to have students turn and whisper elements of the lesson. For example, the partners could repeat something in the lesson or speculate how they will use the skill.
Using this array of quick and engaging active teaching tools will keep students interested and the lesson lively. The writers in your minilessons will be fairly bursting at the seams to write independently in the "try it" when you have stimulated their thinking through Accountable Listening!