Bite-size Lessons For Big-time Learning

Finding your students’ heads in the clouds a little more often? Looking for engaging lessons that might be a little outside the box? Well, no need to search for a needle in a haystack! You can meet your students where they are right now using microlearning for small group instruction. It’s a piece of cake, especially for learning idioms!

What is microlearning?

Microlearning is learning done in small pieces (about 5-10 minutes) and nanolearning, a more recent offshoot, is even smaller (2-5 minutes). The prefixes micro and nano simply mean small or really small. So in this case it’s small learning but not small in impact, just in time and scope!

Key components of microlearning:

  • 5-10 minutes (think short videos/TikTok as examples of duration),
  • a focus on a set goal (1-2 standards),
  • an input of media (text, visuals, video or combination), and
  • a measurable goal (something with a specific answer).

Combining it with small group instruction can make it much more effective as a teaching and learning tool, which means students can collaborate to develop their learning in targeted ways.

Reviewing Idioms with this approach

Boom cards are ideal to have students’ focus captivated for a short duration. I use Boom Cards often in my ELA and Social Studies lessons. Check out this post to find out why I love Boom cards.

For idioms, those often tricky phrases, using Boom cards makes review time interactive, engaging, and effective. Letting the cat out of the bag, I must say that I love sharing these sayings with students. It’s fun to watch students figure out the meanings and then incorporate the idioms into their writing!

How does it work?

I create small groups, ideally as a similar ability grouping, and provide a device where students can use this set of Idioms Digital Boom Cards featuring 36 different idioms. I provide a tracking sheet for each student. Student groups work through the Boom cards and record their answers.

Free Idiom Tracking Sheets

 Intentional student groupings can mean a great deal here in scaffolding for success so that students can go at their own pace for the microlesson - aim for about 10 minutes. Not all student groups will go through every idiom and that’s okay! It means added opportunities to incorporate this into your classroom so students retain more as they move forward.

Looking to take it to the next level?

  1. In a 1:1 classroom, assign the cards in Boom Learning. Let students work for 10-15 minutes. This works well as an assessment to check understanding after the small group activity. It builds student confidence when they get the right answers from their group activity and allows them to take some risks in guessing others they might not have encountered. 
  2. If your class is more paper and pen focused, share the cards on a digital display like a Smart board. In small groups - ideally different than before - students work to figure out the answer. Add in a layer of movement to have a volunteer go up to select an answer.
  3. Complete a mash-up poetry activity where students write individual lines using idioms. Put large paper around the room and have students circulate to add their lines based on a provided title. Put students in small groups and have them assess the use of idioms in the completed poems.

Remember the goals for microlearning

Short - about 10 minutes. With 36 cards in the idiom boom card set mentioned above, they can be used multiple times. The multiple choice answers shuffle each time to keep it fresh!

  1. The set goal is familiarizing students with one aspect of figurative language.
  2. The Boom Cards are the media input, and
  3. They have a measurable goal since they’re self-checking!

If you are new to using Boom Cards, take a quick look at these frequently asked questions.  Boom cards can be used with a free teacher account.  You don't need a paid membership unless you want to track student data within the site.  With a free teacher account, you can use a fast-pin (fancy name for a simple link) so that students can just click and play with no student log-in required.

Boom Card faqs

There are so many opportunities to use microlearning in your classroom. Now that you’ve opened this can of worms, what will you be trying?

Happy Teaching!

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