Powerful learning occurs when teachers see best-practice instruction firsthand

It’s one thing to hear about effective reading and writing lessons. It’s a different matter altogether to see a live mini-lesson with your own students—but led by a Smekens literacy consultant.
Not ready yet? Keep scrolling to learn more!


So, what is mini-lesson modeling?

When teachers are provided with ample training on the value and characteristics of a mini-lesson instructional model, they want to see this type of teaching for themselves.
It’s after teachers view the short, focused lessons delivered by a Smekens consultant that they crystalize their own vision for how to lead effective reading and writing mini-lessons.

What is a mini-lesson anyway?

A mini-lesson is a short, narrowly focused lesson that is typically delivered in front of the entire class. While the mini-lesson plays a key role in writer’s workshop and reader’s workshop, the best-practice principles can also be applied to any content area.
1. Introduction
(Announce the granular mini-lesson skill being taught.)
2. Instruction

(Teach the skill through modeling, examples, and Think Alouds.)

3. Interaction
(The whole class works together to apply the skill with the teacher close by to provide support.)
4. Closure
(Wrap up and identify what you want students to do with the skill on their own.)

Benefits of mini-lesson modeling

Whenever you learn something new, it’s helpful to watch someone else do it first. And even if you’re a seasoned pro, watching other experts in action helps to sharpen your own skills.
Establish credibility of mini-lesson instructional model.
Reveal the granular focus of reading and writing mini-lessons.
Provide teachers with lesson ideas they can replicate later.
Demonstrate the four steps to an effective mini-lesson.
Offer post-observation “debriefing” to discuss, ask questions, and plan next steps.
Highlight value of instruction that is fun and engaging.
Re-energize teachers by providing in-the-trenches support.
Impact the entire staff by having rotations of teachers observe lessons.
Highlight the potential of each student by allowing teachers to observe learning.
Demonstrate a commitment to ongoing professional learning.
Offer job-embedded training and support in the context of your own school.


How to plan on-site mini-lesson modeling

Great things can happen when a plan comes together. Here’s how to prepare for successful on-site mini-lesson modeling:
Call Smekens to schedule the consultation.
After your day of mini-lesson modeling is on the books, your Smekens consultant will reach out to start planning the details.
Connect the consultant to host teachers.
Our consultant will work directly with host teachers to find out what reading or writing skills students need to learn next.
Plan for the maximum impact.
School leaders will plan for a rotation of coverage to allow as many teachers as possible to view lessons and participate in short pre and post-lesson meetings.

What other educators say

“I love it that we can immediately apply what we are learning! We learn it, see it in action, and then see it in one of our own classrooms! There is no doubt of understanding.”

Melissa Jordan

Starr Elementary, Richmond, IN

“I loved seeing this taught to my students at our own school! It helped me brainstorm about how I’ll teach this to my students, and I especially love the props & visuals used to solidify ideas for my students (light bulb, putty).”

Erin Nihill

Ardmore Elementary School, Allison, IL

“I have so many great ideas for mini-lessons. Seeing it modeled was wonderful, and it would be really great to see the whole process with the teacher, small group, and students in centers.”

Michelle Ostendorf

Sixth District Elementary School, Covington, KY

How much does mini-lesson modeling cost?

When a Smekens consultant spends a day at your school leading mini-lesson models, the costs vary according to these variables:
Daily Rate
Most Smekens consultants have a base rate of $2,300 per day. When it takes a full day to travel to your location from Indiana, the daily rate also applies to travel days.
Travel Expenses
When no air travel is required, the only costs are mileage and possibly overnight lodging. If we’re hopping on a plane, add in tickets, baggage, car rental, parking, and gas.
For no additional cost, a customized handout will be provided for every consultation. The handout can be distributed to teachers digitally, or it can be printed on your copy machine or ours (for a small fee).


Meet our on-site consulting team

Brady Smekens

Director of Professional Development

Kristina Smekens

Lead Consultant

Courtney Gordon

Literacy Consultant

Shona Lansdell

Literacy Consultant

Kristi McCullough

Literacy Consultant
Rachel Remenschneider

Rachel Remenschneider

Literacy Consultant

Top questions about mini-lesson modeling

How can we help the consultant prepare for a day of modeling?
In order to enjoy a powerful day of mini-lesson modeling, strong communication and planning before the consultant arrives is essential. To allow for ample planning ahead of her visit, the consultant will reach out at least two weeks in advance to discuss lesson topics, schedule, audio-visual setup, etc. A prompt response to the consultant’s inquiry will equip her with the details she needs to prepare a customized series of lessons.
How do we structure the schedule for the day?
An effective schedule would involve as many teachers as possible in a rotation that allows for 6-8 lessons during the day. Each rotation of teachers could last as little as 40 minutes and should include a pre-lesson meeting with the consultant, the lesson, and a post-lesson debriefing. A carefully-crafted coverage schedule can allow for multiple teachers to observe lessons throughout the day.
What training should be in place ahead of mini-lesson modeling?
Mini-lesson modeling days will be most effective if teachers have already learned about the 4-step mini-lesson model and have experimented with mini-lessons in their own classrooms.

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