Mini Lessons, Buddy Reading, and Authors Purpose

Serving Up Mini-Lessons by: Sonia Martin

Mini-lessons lay the foundation for sustaining lessons and student learning overtime. They foster reading comprehension strategies that allow students to interact and understand independently. Most educators use mini-lessons as a springboard for developing skills and concepts.

Mini-lessons are carefully planned with the Common Core Standards, student data and resources in mind. Within the framework of teaching and learning there are three main ingredients that facilitate an effective mini-lesson:

1) teacher modeling skills and concepts (link to schema)

2) students are highly engaged

3) is dynamic in nature.

During these bite-size lessons, teachers model learning behaviors students are expected to know, understand and apply. As the teacher demonstrates learning objectives, they are recording or charting key ideas/visual thinking on chart paper for all to revisit. Students are as equally engaged in the process as the teacher builds background of subject matter through questioning and answer responses, “ticket-in”, polling, carousels, partner sharing, and/or note taking activities.

When developing mini-lessons, teachers intentionally address the varying needs of every learner represented in their class. Lessons should include listening, speaking, reading, and writing activities. Most mini-lessons start at the concrete stage and move towards more complex cognitive processes with scaffolding to support lower performers. Using a short piece of literature or video to demonstrate a learning objective or mini-lesson is an added bonus for facilitating students’ understanding. Pace lessons and allow ample time for students to process and acquire new skills and concepts.

Too much can be overwhelming. Remember to keep it super simple!

Types of mini-lessons to name a few:

Central Theme

Important Details

Author’s purpose


Multiple Meaning Words

Context Clues

Letter/Sound Recognition

Drawing Conclusions


Sound Segmentation

Spelling Features

Beginning, Middle and End (BME)

Rick's Reading Workshop: Mini-Lesson

Share Reading with A Buddy? Hmmmm…by: Denise Jones

What are some clear and concise differences between Shared Reading and Buddy Reading? Here are some basics:

Shared Reading: Students and teacher read from one text that is large enough for all to see well. The Elmo is a great way to make this happen for older students. The teacher can read to students while they look on, or the piece can be read in unison aloud. For younger grades, you will see this often in the choral reading of poetry, or through song books that a teacher establishes within their classroom.

Buddy Reading: Three main ways to buddy read are:


1. Students share a book (should be on the same reading level). One student reads a page, while the other student is required to check for understanding about what was just read aloud. They must explain who the characters are in the book, and what is happening on that page. Then the roles reverse.

2. Students are reading from two different books because they are on different reading levels. Student one reads a page from his/her own book while student two is required to check for understanding. Student two then reads a page from his/her book and student one checks for understanding.


Students read from the same book. The more fluent student reads aloud a page from the book first, and then less fluent student takes a turn to reread the same page aloud.

Song Books:

Students of all ages love to sing, and already know the words to so many songs! Why not capitalize on that with a daily Song Book? Give the students a say in some of the titles you choose to print off for them to keep in a journal or notebook (disclaimer…always check the lyrics first before printing to make certain they are appropriate). Introduce one new song a week, and use it as a shared reading tool. Sing it together, and then look for skills that you are working on for that week. It could be long and short vowels, suffixes, prefixes, adjectives, etc. Then go deeper by having the students inference to understand the lyrics and what is really being said.

For example:

Lyrics From Phillip Phillips “Home” (students will have the whole song in front of them)

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
Cause I'm going to make this place your home.

Why do you think that this was chosen as a theme song for the Olympics?

What do you think he means by “this wave is stringing us along?”

Students will have to inference, and therefore they will a require a short mini-lesson on what it means to infer! Begin there, introduce the song, and ask those deeper questions to make them think. You will be amazed how excited students are to learn when it includes their favorite songs! It is a perfect way to integrate the reading of basic sight words and fluency for students who struggle in reading. They don’t even realize they are reading! Have fun with Sing Along/Shared Reading!

What in the world is the Author THINKING??? by: Lisa Mixon

'Head Questions' are those that the answers can be found in your head by thinking about them.

How to use question stems during guided reading:

- when running a Guided Reading Session have these question stems next to you and formulate appropriate questions as you see a context.
- choose the questions appropriate to your group.
- have the students create their own questions to be answered by the group.


Focus on Author – Author’s Purpose – Author’s Intention

- The author says '....................' What does this really mean?
- The author uses the phrase (phrase) to give us the idea that...
- Describe the value of this piece of writing in terms of big picture stuff. i.e. ‘Life, The Universe and Everything’
- What are the 'big picture' themes raised by the author in this text?
- How do you think the author felt about (character)?
- What do you think the author's attitude to his/her audience?
- Describe the tone of this piece of writing?
- What is the author's purpose in this text? i.e. Is it to entertain? Persuade? Inform? Espouse? or something else?
- The author has capitalised the words (Words in Capitals) to show...

- The author has written the words (insert words) in italics to indicate...
- The author uses the phrase (phrase). This phrase suggests...
- The author made an analogy in the text by saying (insert analogy). What irrelevant meanings might be implied from this?

- What do you feel is the author's best use of metaphor in the text? Why?
- In your opinion, what is the best example of description in the text? i.e a passage that created a vivid image in your mind's eye.
- The author made an analogy in the text by saying (insert analogy). Tell me why you think the author has done this.
- What lessons from this author's writing can you apply to your writing to make it more interesting for your readers?

- Writing a book sometimes takes a lot of thought. What do you think would have been the hardest problem in the text to solve successfully?

Author's Purpose

Lexiles by: Carrie Meadows

When a Lexile text measure matches a Lexile reader measure, this is called a "targeted" reading experience. The reader will likely encounter some level of difficulty with the text, but not enough to get frustrated. This is the best way to grow as a reader—with text that's not too hard but not too easy.

When you receive a Lexile measure, try not to focus on the exact number. Instead, consider a reading range around the number. A person's Lexile range, or reading comprehension "sweet spot," is from 100L below to 50L above his or her reported Lexile measure.

The idea behind The Lexile Framework for Reading is simple: if we know how well a student can read and how hard a specific book is to comprehend, we can predict how well that student will likely understand the book. For example, if a reader has a Lexile measure of 600L (600 Lexile), the reader will be forecasted to comprehend approximately 75% of a book with the same Lexile measure (600L). When the Lexile measures and the Lexile scale were developed, the 75% comprehension rate was set at the point where the difference between the Lexile reader measure and the Lexile text measure is 0L. The 75% comprehension rate is called “targeted” reading. This rate is based on independent reading; if the reader receives help, the comprehension rate will increase. The target reading rate is the point at which a reader will comprehend enough to understand the text, but also will face some reading challenges.