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Crafting the PERFECT Minilesson

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

Crafting the PERFECT Minilesson

Reading and Writing Workshops each begin daily with a minilesson.

Crafting the perfect minilesson must be intentional, purposeful and well planned.

The perfect minilesson is no longer than 10-14 minutes.

The perfect minilesson uses authentic text!

The perfect minilesson guides students in actively engaging in the work!

The perfect minilesson provides students with a literacy tool!

The perfect minilesson for provides practice with using a literacy tool!


So many teachers have asked...

Is 10-14 minutes REALLY enough time?

YES! It is!

The purpose of a minilesson is to teach ONE THING. Through the minilesson students are taught ONE new strategy or skill. Within this time, the teacher models, gathers information, gives information and nudges students to actively have-a-go with the new piece of learning. The minilesson ends with a link to students' independent work. Independent workshop time is a continuation of the minilesson.

A minilesson has a predictable structure. It starts with a connection to prior learning. It moves into stating what will be learned that day. Then, it teaches ONE point which builds on prior learning. Following this modeling and discussion, students are nudged into active engagement in the learning. Finally, new learning is linked to students' independent work. Students leave the minilesson to apply the new learning within their independent work.

Minilesson Cheat Sheet

The Architecture of a Minilesson

Connect (about 1-2 minutes)

Students need to see how the new learning connects to their prior learning. This can be done by creating an anecdote. Share observations of what you have seen students doing during independent work time and how the new learning will help build on that.

Intentional minilesson language for the CONNECT component of the minilesson...

  • "Yesterday we were working on and I noticed ___, so today…"

  • "I’ve been thinking about your reading…"

State your teaching point

Teach (about 5 minutes)

Decide how you will teach this lesson.

  1. Will you gather information from students to record on an anchor chart?

  2. Will you give information TO students on an anchor chart or literacy tool?

  3. How will you MODEL using this new strategy/skill/tool?

  4. Which authentic piece of text will you revisit for this teaching point?

Intentional minilesson language for the TEACH component of the minilesson...

  • “Let me show you how…”

  • “Hmmm, I’m thinking…”

  • “Did you see how…?”

Actively Engage (about 5 minutes)

Determine how you will actively engage students in the minilesson.

  1. Will students try out the strategy/skill/tool right there in a shared piece of text or their independent text?

  2. Will students record their 'try' in their notebook or on post-it notes?

  3. Will students Turn and Talk with a partner discuss and work together through 'having a go" at using the new strategy/skill/tool?

  4. Will students work together or independently to make a plan for how to use the strategy/skill/tool?

Intentional minilesson language for the ACTIVE ENGAGEMENT component of the minilesson...

  • “Now you are going to have a try…”

  • "It's time for you to try this out..."

  • "Work with your partner to..."

Link (about 1-2 minutes)

In this component of the minilesson, the teacher will LINK the work to a student's everyday reading (or writing) work. Let students know they will be using and practicing this work independently. Restate the teaching point before sending students off to independent work time.

Intentional minilesson language for the LINK component of the minilesson...

  • Today and every day when you are reading (or writing) you should…

Restate teaching point


After the minilesson, students begin to apply the new learning in their independent work. The teacher is there to facilitate that work and their prior learning within conferences and small group instruction. At the end of workshop, students are gathered back together to SHARE how their application work went that day. This may include sharing student work, reteaching, gathering concerns or questions or even pre-teaching for the next day's lesson.

You might be interested in seeing a minilesson already put together

using the checklist and minilesson template.

Until next time...

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