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Content Review with Mini Lessons

Creating short, structured lessons to fill knowledge gaps

Context

Mini lessons are a consistent feature of Valor’s approach to math instruction. In addition to a more traditional core math class (Core), Valor students spend one semester a year in a Math Content Focus class (Focus). The Focus class provides students with extra time for skill building and to fill knowledge gaps through mini lessons.

Most of the Focus math class is dedicated to filling knowledge gaps, and mini lessons are the primary instructional approach to achieve this goal. Core and Focus teachers coordinate consistently throughout the year, leveraging data to determine which math topics should be addressed via a mini lesson. Topics selected are often ones where more than 65% of students have yet to reach mastery.

Mini lessons take approximately twenty minutes of instructional time and include four main parts:

  • A short, targeted, whole class instruction delivered by the teacher.
  • A few (usually one to five, depending on complexity) practice problems completed by the student while the teacher circulates providing rapid feedback.
  • A quick debrief by the teacher, addressing common challenges they noticed from circulating.
  • A short exit ticket completed by students.

Student Does

  • Receives short, focused, whole class instruction.
  • Works through a few practice problems, often collaboratively with a partner.
  • Completes exit ticket at end of mini lesson.

Teacher Does

  • Provides whole class instruction for skills in greatest need of review.
  • Circulates the room during instruction and student practice to support students and provide feedback.
  • Grades exit tickets to determine student improvement.

Technology Does

  • Provides data sources (benchmark, exit ticket, etc.) to help determine most common areas of struggle.
  • Allows teacher to broadcast instruction from iPad to screen, enabling them to deliver whole class instruction while circulating the room.