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How to Use Read Aloud Mini Lessons to Teach Reading Comprehension Strategies

Read Aloud Mini Lessons and Reading Comprehension

Elementary teacher guided readingA mini lesson, by definition should be mini.  In other words, a mini lesson should last no longer than 5-7 minutes.  The read aloud is an ideal place to use mini lessons because you can use an anchor text to introduce a reading strategy in a very short period of time.   The key to an effective mini lesson is explicit, intentional instruction.

It is important that you introduce the anchor text prior to the mini lesson.  An anchor text is a book that you repeatedly read with your students but have a different purpose for reading each time you read the text.  As a result, the students become very familiar and comfortable with the characters, plot, etc. and are able to focus on specific strategies to improve comprehension.  In this way, all learning and practice with new strategies becomes anchored to specific texts.

Deliver your mini lesson using the following steps as a guide.  Remember to keep your instructional language to a minimum.  The goal is define a very clear purpose for your students.


State your teaching point.  Tell the students why today’s work is important to them as readers and connect today’s work to previous learning.  For example, you might say:

“Today we are going to re-read The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.  While reading we are going to work on identifying the author’s message.  It is important for readers to think about the author’s message in order to determine the theme and purpose of the book. When an author decides to write a book, it is usually because they want to share information or a story with readers.”


Show the students how a reader goes about identifying the author’s message.  Select a specific place in the text where the author provides the reader with a message. Guide the students as they work with you to identify the author’s message.   Invite the students to discuss the author’s message: What do they think the author is trying to say?  What evidence do they have to support the author’s message?

Because you have already read the book, you and your students can focus solely on comprehension strategy work.  It is unnecessary to read the entire book during the mini lesson.

Active Engagement

Move onto another page in the book where the author’s message is revealed.  Ask students to turn and talk with a partner about the author’s message.  Allow 2-4 the students to share their thinking with the class.


Restate the importance of the teaching point.  Remind students that they should use this strategy today and everyday from now on.  Provide students with an opportunity to try the strategy during independent reading or during small group/guided reading.


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