Yesterday I touched on this in my blog post. Today I am going to explore it a bit more.

Math is a subject where things build upon each other like a precarious stack of blocks. You have to make sure the base is solid before adding to the tower or it will all fall apart.

This can make math lessons so hard to keep mini because so much depends on the understanding of another skill or concept. So how can you keep the math lesson mini?

__Tip One: Create a Unit Overview__

During my master’s classes we were really hammered with the concept of “Keeping the end in mind,” from __Understanding by Design__ by Grant Wiggins. While I didn’t use his templates, I did like to think about the standards that would be assessed, the assessment itself, and then worked backwards from there. It just makes sense.

*Creating a unit overview made it easier for me to make sure I taught the lessons in an order that made sense, in the practical amount of time/days, and hit all the required standards. It also help me look carefully at the standards to be able to break them in more “bite size pieces.”*

__Tip Two: Teach a Specific Targeted Skill or Concept__

Introduce the grade level skill or concept in whole group.

Give your reasoning for introducing it, or how it can be applied in the real world.

Then, teach the skill which allows for modeling and think aloud, and just a little bit of student practice.

*I personally do not look at one mini lesson as a chance for concept mastery. Instead, I look at it as a time for modeling and shared practice. I mean, it is only a few minutes!*

__Tip Three: Use Your Time Wisely During the Mini Lesson__

*To keep the mini lesson, well, mini make sure to use your time as wisely as possible.*

*YES, of course your students should participate in the lesson and practice, BUT when the lesson is only 15-20 minutes long it may not be best for this to be the bulk of the lesson.*

__Tip Four: Use Student Note Taking Wisely__

*To capitalize on this with younger students, make sure to provide structured notes.*__AHHH! How will I ever fit it all in?__

Most likely, you won’t. Not to be a pessimist, but I am trying to be a realist. I had an extremely difficult time fitting it all in when just teaching mini lessons in math.

One way that I have “combated” this is to not do math workshop and a mini lesson EVERY day. You may want to reserve one or two days a week for whole group instruction.

I organized my math block differently every year. Some years I did whole group instruction on Monday and then mini lessons and small groups Tues through Friday. Other years I did whole group Mondays and Fridays and small groups Tues- Thurs. Other years, when I had multiple adults in the room do to push in inclusion we did small groups EVERY day and only did whole group as needed. I did find that when I taught third grade, it was hard to teach math mini lesson EVERY day and sometimes I did have to do whole group.

**I also found that some years my approach worked great…and others not so much, so I had to make changes (like the ones listed above). Being flexible is always key when meeting the needs of your students.**

Do you have any tips to keep the math mini lesson mini?

My NEXT blog post is going to be those tricky small group lessons. How can your small groups meet the needs of ALL your needs and not just your struggling learners? I will address that next!

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Mandy Gregory is a 2007 and 2012 Teacher of the Year. She has taught 4th, 3rd, and 2nd grade in both the general education and inclusion setting. She is the owner and creator of the Teaching Tips website (www.mandygregory.com) and has over 10 years of experience. She is married with two beautiful children.