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Reteach grammar skills in maintenance mini-lessons
When planning any writing unit, teachers determine how long it will last, how many skills can reasonably be taught, what skills those will be, and how those skills will be revealed within an end product.
Regardless of the careful planning that goes into the unit preparation, there are undoubtedly writing skills the teacher presumes students will know–but don’t. Often, these deficiencies fall under sentence construction and the application of grammar and mechanics.
This now poses a unique problem. The writing weaknesses can’t be ignored; however, to address them within the pre-planned unit will cause the unit to go much longer than expected. This is where the notion of maintenance mini-lessons could be employed.
Purpose of maintenance mini-lessons
Execute the writing unit and the mini-lesson skills as originally planned. Then, when the unit concludes–but before the next one begins–spend a couple writer’s workshop days executing maintenance mini-lessons.
These “repair” lessons target the re-teaching and fixing up of convention skills that were previously taught, but clearly not yet mastered.
Plan for breakdowns and repairs
Instead of being surprised and frustrated by the need to reteach such skills, it’s easier to just anticipate time for them. Set aside 1-3 days after a writing unit to address convention weaknesses discovered during the unit.
And while predicting which skills need to be repaired may be impossible, it can be assumed that there will be a need to reteach some skills from previous grade levels.
Consequently, plan a couple “buffer” days, in between writing units, to address writer weaknesses–without getting behind schedule.