Saturday, July 20, 2013

Minds on Math Book Study-Chapter 7 "Minilessons"

Minds on Mathematics Book Study

If this is your first time joining our book study please click on the button above and it will link to all previous posts.  Feel free to go back and add a link to any previous chapters.  You can link up your post on Chapter 7 at the bottom of this post.  Please visit the other bloggers who have linked up below and leave them comments.  Lots of great ideas are being posted on other blogs!

This chapter did an excellent job of explaining the purpose of the minilesson portion of workshop and then also giving some great ideas of types of minilessons to do with your students.  I love the idea that your focus can vary from day to day when doing your minilesson.  The author gave some great examples of how to incorporate thinking strategies and the mathematical practice standards during this time.

I think that due to the fact that the minilesson is supposed to take ten minutes or less, it's really important to plan carefully what you want to accomplish during that time.  This is a shift from demonstrating procedures and showing students how to solve problems, to having them think like a mathematician as the teacher models reasoning processes and thinking.  We are using the minilesson to launch independent problem solving as students move into work time.

It's important for teachers to debrief with students at the end of the minilesson to help them take ownership of the problem solving process.  This is also a great time to implement some type of formative assessment to check for student understanding.  This formative assessment can help you decide if there are students that will need additional support to get started during work time.  That way you won't have students doing nothing during work time because they still aren't ready to complete the task independently.


  1. What I found interesting about the Minilesson, is that it is the time that we model our thinking. This is not a time for the students to do all the work. We can get their input, but we are asking thinking questions more than computation questions. They need to hear us think about how we would enter a problem and dig out our prior knowledge to help us attack the problem. I also liked the way she used key terms from the practice standards during her think alouds. Page 104 is a good example of this with perseverance. This is also a great opportunity to review key terms. I often find using words like: product, sum, difference, quotient, equation, expression... helps keep those distinctions in the students heads. I also agree that it's a learning opportunity to discuss the potential pitfalls so that the students can be aware of them. It truly is about teaching students to fish. We can provide all the rules, but if they don't make sense, what's the point. They will be forgotten and they won't be able to solve similar problems down the road. It's about being content focused and pairing it with process. Another great example is on the bottom of page 109.
    I am currently being trained to be a disciplinary literacy coach. The examples on page 110 under "Showing Ways to Hold Thinking" is so similar to what I'm learning in my training. I find all of this to be effective teaching strategies. Nothing new, but just reminders of good practices.

  2. I agree this chapter was full of great examples. There are so many ways to use the minilesson! It really takes a couple of reads to soak it all in.

  3. I'm really liking the modeling in the book. It is really helping me grasp my new idea of being a teacher. I'm also appreciating all the charts. The weekly plan on page 113 is awesome.

  4. I, too, liked the chart on page 113. I feel like this part of the book is written as a "think aloud" because the author does such a nice job with examples and explanations.

  5. I thought the examples were good too. I'm just looking at the amount of standards that are required to be taught, and it makes me nervous that there is a lot of time spent on one particular piece. I know in the book Hoffer discusses mastery of concept not plowing through, but I'm still accountable for those pieces. Does anyone else have the time pressure? How are you dealing with it?
    Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans

  6. The one thing that stood out to me in this chapter is I need to step away from showing them "how" to do the math and start showing them how to "think" as a mathematician. I loved the line "typical instruction is all about giving a child a fish, while mini lessons are about teaching children how to fish." I really need to start thinking aloud in front of the students asking myself what do I already know and what do I need to find out? I also like the idea of discussing pitfalls. This will give you insight on a child's fears as they approach a complex problem. Last year a teacher at my school started doing something she called FAME (facts, art, math, explain). Each time the students came to a word problem, I had them use this approach. I realized then that it was a good strategy but it wasn't as good as I was hoping because I did a poor job of modeling what I expected. This seemed to coincide with what Hoffer describes a teacher should be modeling during the mini lesson.

    I liked the idea of at the end of the mini lesson asking "does anyone have any questions?" instead if "does everyone understand?" There is a big difference. Then letting the students answer!

    I liked the chart on page 113, but it did seem very time consuming and as Michele mentioned before me, we don't want to rush through the curriculum just to finish, but we are accountable for those pieces that we missed. It's going to be challenging to find the right balance.

    -Jillian Morris


Thank you so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Feel free to email me at with any questions you have.