Three Tips for Teaching Incredible Mini-Lessons

Typically used in TAB classrooms, mini-lessons are short, to the point instruction designed to get students ready to make art. In fact, a key component of mini-lessons is getting essential information to students in under five minutes. Not only do students have the benefit of more time to work, the shortened time frame for delivery lends itself to more easily understandable material.

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Mini-lessons work well for demonstrations, techniques, artist discussions and lessons based on teaching to specific standards. You can see some of my mini-lessons by clicking on the links below. (See even more on the AOE Lesson Plans Page.)

Elementary:

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Secondary:

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Mini-lessons are effective for both small and whole group instruction. In a TAB classroom, mini-lessons are often used to introduce new materials or centers. Students apply new learning as they work in centers. Assessment occurs through the teacher’s observation of the creative process and through informal conferences with students during work time.

Three Tips for Planning Great Mini-Lessons

All information is clear and essential.

Ask yourself: what do your kids really need to know about a subject? When you’re planning a mini-lesson, boiling the concepts down to key ideas is essential. One way to do this is to identify three to five big essential ideas and focus specifically on those ideas.

Make learning memorable.

watercolor anchor chart

Think about strategies to help your students remember new information and apply it independently. Anchor charts–visuals that combine images and text–can really help with this.

Check for understanding.

Use a quick review strategy to make sure your lesson hit home. Ask a question and have students discuss it in small groups. You might ask groups to list the steps for a new process, define vocabulary or talk about how to apply skills. These conversations give students an extra chance to process information, and listening to others will help clarify any misconceptions.

What are your tips for awesome mini lessons? Share them in the comments below!

Melissa Purtee

Melissa teaches at Apex High School in North Carolina. She’s passionate about supporting diversity, student choice, and facilitating authentic expression.

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