Have you ever looked at your pacing guide or standards and noticed that one standard seems really small? It’s not that the skill is insignificant, but it’s something you don’t need to spend a lot of time on. Science mini-lessons are a great way to address these small standards or even review skills that were previously taught, but need a bit of a refresher!
What are Science Mini-Lessons?
Mini-lessons can be called lots of different things, like quick lessons. But the concept is still the same. It’s a short lesson, typically thirty minutes or less, where you introduce a concept or topic to students. It’s also a great way as a teacher to evaluate what students need to know versus what is nice to know. I like my mini-lessons to be no-fluff!
After the mini-lesson, you can spend time practicing the skill in independent practice, labs, demos, group work, and more. The options are limitless, but what makes science mini-lessons so great is that you have time for practice right after the lesson.
Being able to practice and reinforce what students have learned helps the information stick!
3 Steps to Planning Science Mini-Lessons
When you plan a science mini-lesson, you want to think beyond just the 30 minute direct instruction. Instead, think of creating a well-rounded class period that is led by the mini-lesson! Here is how I plan the perfect class period, which kicks off with a science mini-lesson.
Step 1: The Mini-Lesson
In this portion, you will directly teach students the skill or concept you want them to know in the science mini-lesson. The mini-lesson should last for no more than thirty or so minutes because you want to leave room for practice!
During your science mini-lesson, keep from overloading students with information. As I mentioned before, this should be pretty no-fluff. Stick to the information students need to know and make your direct teaching concise and easy to follow.
Just because this is a direct teaching doesn’t mean it has to be void of engagement and interaction! Make sure you model, practice, and demonstrate along the way as necessary.
Want to try a mini-lesson on the scientific method? Download this FREE Scientific Investigation Quick Lesson and Guided Notes. The free resource includes a Google Slides presentation and guided notes for the lesson.
Step 2: The Practice
After the mini-lesson, you get to dive into the content and assess how well students understand the skill. This is also your chance to reinforce your mini-lesson, clarify the concept, and help students retain what they have learned.
For science mini-lessons, an easy practice activity is a quick video, mini-lab, or demo that pairs well with your mini-lesson. I like using the Predict, Observe, Explain method when doing these mini-labs and demos.
Predict, Observe, Explain allows students to practice creating a hypothesis, making observations, and explaining the phenomena that took place. Plus, it will really help you see if students understand the skill.
I use this Predict, Observe, Explain Template with students. It’s a really simple one-pager, so students can glue it in their notebooks or turn it in for you to look over. Plus, the template comes in a print and digital version, so you can use it whether you’re doing a live demo or using a video.
Step 3: The Assessment
Lastly, you will want to assess students’ knowledge of what they have learned! This can be more in-depth like a mini-quiz or a summary of the skill. It can also be simple like a checkpoint or exit ticket.
You can have students turn something in as an assessment, or use a digital tool like Kahoot! or Google Forms to get a quick pulse on students’ knowledge. Want more quick and easy science activity ideas? Read the blog post on Creating a Gallery Walk with Task Cards.