top of page

Direct Instruction Through Mini-Lessons

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

The end of a project has come, and your students are ready to present. How do you feel about class periods of students standing at the board reading their slides, offering no breaks for engagement or activity? Yes, we all dread those periods. The silence, the fatigue of sitting still trying to look attentive. Those days drag on and on. This is what students feel EVERYDAY. As a teacher, you don’t have to lose your voice giving long, drawn out lectures through detailed slides presentations. They are boring! We can do better.

Just like we don’t enjoy speakers talking to us with long slide decks full of text, neither do our students. Think outside the box. When you use slides, make them interactive. Make them short. Use pictures, with minimal text. Then, have your students apply what they just learned.

Here are some quick ideas for how to do that.

Have your students go through a “Mental Download” of the information by doing a Flipgrid, Sketchnote, Timed Notes Challenge- they write down everything they can in 2 minutes, Graphic Organizer, etc. Anything to get them to recall what they have learned. These are fun, quick ways to assess what they have retained, or what you may need to go over again. The more you do this process, the more they are likely to pay attention when they know a new “Mini Lesson” is happening!

Next, they can move on to the more in depth display of what they have learned through an individual or group activity that you have planned to allow them to apply that knowledge. And then you are able to move around the room to group or those individual students that need personalized assistance or instruction.

As teachers, yes, we have a lot of knowledge. But the kids don’t want us to share it all at one time. When we do, they don’t retain it anyway. Our job is not to pour information like water into empty containers. It is to develop a passion for exploring, a love of learning that transcends content areas, age groups, and buildings. We have the skills to do it. Our students benefit and can truly acquire the skills they need for success when we do.

Here’s an idea: Have you tried recording yourself teaching the mini lesson?  There are several apps available now to help you do it quickly and easily.  Screencastify is my favorite.  Check out this quick Mini Lesson I used to teach my students about the parts of a wave. Whether you are a technology maven or a newbie, recording yourself can be a great way to let your students control their flow of information- and you make sure that all students get the same information in the same way. 

Creating these videos benefits you, by saving your voice and your time; your high flyers, by allowing them to move through a lesson without being frustrated if you have to slow down to reteach a concept; and your students with processing issues, by providing them with the opportunity to take more time (and more get more views of the information) to truly absorb the content you are sharing. It is a great tool to help you meet various personalized student accommodations or learning plan requirements. And best of all, you can easily move around your classroom, literally and figuratively meeting your students where they are, through this type of differentiated instruction.

What methods or apps do you use to “chunk” your lessons and lectures?


bottom of page