Friday, April 10, 2015

poetry blog hop 2015: the power of the mini-lesson

Credits: Edu-Clips, Hello Fonts, & Epiphanous Owl

Super excited! It's National Poetry Month and you've reached the end of an amazing Blog Hop. Thank you to Carla over at Comprehension Connection for organizing everything and for the super cute images! Did you pick up some great freebies along the way? Well, you're right in time for one more, here at BigTime Literacy! 

I wanted to talk to you about one of my favorite parts of teaching literacy under a Workshop philosophy - the mini-lesson! (I promise, I will get back to the poetry momentarily!)

Some people might think that mini-lessons aren't important because they're mini. I beg to differ! Mini-Lessons are the universal curriculum when you teach with workshop. They pack a powerful punch quickly, and then set students off to do the hard work of literacy learning. In a mini-lesson, there are four parts: Link, Teaching Point, Active Involvement, and Connection. 

Here is a quick review of the parts of the mini-lesson, and then after, you can find my freebie, which is a set of lesson plans for the beginning of an intermediate poetry unit!

Link: Students access their prior learning to set them up for new learning. For example: "We've been talking a lot about poetry, and how poets use emotion and imagery to enhance their poems."

Teaching Point (& Explicit Teaching): Here, the teacher names exactly what students will do and explicitly demonstrates what it looks like. For example: "Readers, today we will learn another technique that poets use: rhythm. You probably already know about rhythm...I'm sure in previous grades you learned about alliteration, onomatopoeia, and repetition of lines within poetry. There are a few more ways poets use rhythm in their poems! One way is with rhyming poetry, which gives the poem rhythm. (Use Casey at the Bat to share an example of rhyming lines.) If the poet counts syllables and makes patterns for where the stress of the syllables lie, they are tending to the meter of the poem. (Illuminate with example.) If the poem has no rhyming words and there isn't a pattern with syllables, that is a free-verse poem."

Active Involvement: In this part of the mini-lesson, student have a brief opportunity to think through the teaching point with a partner. It's important to keep this brief, so that the mini-lesson stays mini! Remember, in a Reading Workshop, students get the bulk of their time to think about what they're learning, and share back at the end of workshop. For example, "We've been reading and studying Casey at the Bat, and I'd like you to listen to a few stanzas from that poem. Now, listen as I read First Baseball Glove by Donald Graves. (Project the poem for so students can follow along.) Now it's your turn: Turn and talk with your partner about the similarities and/or differences in rhythm between these two poems. Students share out briefly at conclusion of share."

Connection: In this final part of the mini-lesson, you set purpose for the work students will do during their independent workshop time. For example, "As you read poems today during workshop, be thinking about whether or not the author used rhythm as a device to engage you with their poetry. Also, we will share about this: Do you prefer poems with emotion, imagery, or rhythm most? Be thinking about that today as you continue your poetry study."

With that background, you are ready for my freebie! I've been working on a poetry unit for the fifth grade teachers in my district, and I'm making the first week of those plans available to you!

In my freebie, you will get five days of plans, each with the four parts of the mini-lesson. The teaching points in these first five lessons are...

  1. Poetry is different than prose.
  2. Poets use emotion as an element to create engaging poems.
  3. Poets use imagery to draw their readers into their poetry.
  4. Poets use the devices of simile and metaphor to enhance imagery in their poems.
  5. Poets use rhythm to make their poems 'musical'.

So here it is, a week's worth of lesson plans for poetry! Download my freebie by clicking here.

And, if you're interested enough for the full unit, you can download that here. The complete unit includes three weeks of lesson plans, standards alignment, key vocabulary, a list of mentor texts, teacher notes page, and four graphic organizers your students will love to use!

If you like what you've read here, please follow me! I love to write, I love to create curriculum, I love to share ideas with everyone, and really, I love this community of bloggers I've found - they teach me new things and collaborate with me on great projects like this blog hop!

And now you've reached the end of the Hop, but you can jump right back to the beginning by clicking the image below. I know my friend Carla will be happy you stopped by Comprehension Connection!

Before you go...since you made it this far, enter my raffle for a chance to win the complete Peel the Onion Unit!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy National Poetry Month!


  1. Fabulous and informative post! Happy Poetry Month! :)
    Literacy Loving Gals

  2. Michelle, you have given such a well outlined idea of how to teach poetry in the workshop model. Your 5th grade colleagues are lucky to have you. I would love to hear your ideas for a kindergarten poetry unit.

  3. What a great post and plan, Michelle! Thanks for jumping in at the last minute.


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