Staying on Topic (Primary) - Mini-Lesson Plan & Templates

April 16, 2014 Margo Ensz

We are excited to announce our partnership with two super creative educators from The Curriculum Corner! You can expect to see more blog posts containing free Common Core aligned lesson ideas, teacher resources and templates you can easily print with your VariQuest Perfecta 2400 or VariQuest Poster Maker - just be sure you have the latest VariQuest Software v4.0

Mini-Lesson: Staying on Topic

Level: Primary 

Objectives/CCSS Alignment: 


    With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.

    With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.

    Introduce a topic and group related information together; include illustrations when useful to aiding comprehension.

*Note: This lesson addresses the part of the standards highlighted in teal only. Teachers will need to address other parts of the standards in future mini-lessons.



  • Interactive Anchor Chart – Staying on Topic (Chameleon)

  • Peer Check: Focus on Topic conferencing form

Click on each image to download the PDF and print to a poster using your VariQuest Software v4.0!

PHOTOlizard resized 600                      PHOTOallabout resized 600 
PHOTO on topic resized 600


  • Make the Staying On Topic (Chameleon) interactive anchor chart into a poster.

    • A blank Staying on Topic interactive anchor chart has also been provided in case the teacher wishes the topic to be one that the class is currently studying. If the teacher chooses a topic other than chameleons, then text will need to be written to fit that topic.  The text should have a number of sentences that don’t stay on topic within the paragraph(s).

  • Copy the Peer Check: Focus on Topic page for each student in the classroom.

  • Choose a piece of work from a student who struggled with staying on topic (and one who wouldn’t be embarrassed if the work was read aloud and discussed/corrected in class).  The alternative is for the teacher to write a piece of text ahead of time that strays from the topic in places to help illustrate the focus of the mini-lesson.


  • Display the Staying on Topic interactive anchor chart for the students and read through the text together one time.

  • Ask the students if they noticed anything that didn’t seem quite right about parts of the text.  Guide them to the conclusion that some of the sentences seem out of place in the text.

  • Reread the text together and cross out the sentences that don’t fit the topic.  Be sure to discuss WHY they do not fit in the text.

  • Tell students that in their writing they need to be very careful to make sure all the sentences tell about the topic on which they have chosen to write.

  • Fishbowl Experience – (The teacher may choose to do this part as a follow up mini-lesson the next day if the interactive chart has taken more than ten minutes to complete.)   

  • Sit in front of the class across from a student (the one whose written piece was chosen) to set up a conferencing type situation.

  • As the student reads his/her piece aloud sentence by sentence, model how to fill out the Peer Check and discuss the procedures for this in the classroom.  

Did you like this lesson? Leave a comment and let us know what topics you would like us to cover in future posts and we will work on delivering free resources to help you prepare for your lessons!

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