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Citation: Angelillo, Janet. (2008). Whole-Class Teaching: Minilessons and More. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Title: Whole-Class Teaching: Minilessons and More
Year: 2008
Publisher: Heinemann
City: Portsmouth, NH
Medium: Book
Author(s): Angelillo, Janet
Grades: Fourth Grade to Eighth Grade
Category: Facilitating Student Learning Creating Student-Centered Classrooms Teaching Effectively Through Classroom Management Minilessons Mentor Authors and Illustrators and Mentor Texts
Annotation: In the introduction to "Whole Class Teaching," Janet Angelillo outlines her goal for you as the reader: “My hope is that you will understand what a gorgeous minilesson feels like and will have the confidence to know you can write and execute minilessons yourself.” (pg. xii) She wrote this book because she felt there have been numerous books written about small group and individual instruction but very little has touched in depth on the essence of large group instruction. She could have entitled the book, The Art of Teaching because it encompasses a much broader concept of minilesson than in other books.

Janet feels that if all the groundwork is set with the foundational guidelines from the first section of her book, then you will be ready to dig into the essence of whole class instruction that she entitles, “ Clarity and Precision: The Practice of “Teaching.” In this section, she focuses minilessons with lasting power: “A good lesson takes fifteen minutes but lasts a long time” (p. 40). Rather than a string of random lessons, Janet shows us how to construct of a string of minilessons that builds upon each other. Her message in Chapter Five (“Studying Whole Class Instruction to Deepen and Refine it”) will draw you to the edge of your learning. These sixteen pages should be a year-long study about the themes of minilessons and how they either fold into one another or are variations on a theme. Janet doesn’t overlook the other times of the day and mentions how to take what you’ve learned about minilessons and incorporate that into other large-group instruction throughout share time, morning meeting, read alouds, and celebrations. It’s clear that Janet believes in the power of minilessons, however, she reminds us that other methods of instruction like inquiry, coaching, and demonstration are just as effective when used purposely. The last portion of this very small but powerful book encourages each of us to be reflective about our minilessons by videotaping them and evaluating their impact on student learning. Reflection doesn’t have to happen in isolation; she shares several models of teacher study groups for delving into this topic of whole class instruction. Every experienced intermediate teacher deserves to own this book and be engaged in a book study with it so that all of us can “take time to fall in love with teaching all over again” (pg. 110).

Although the title of this book is about whole-class teaching, Janet Angelillo’s book also contains gems about classroom management. She begins with “The Universal Truths of Teaching” which focuses on the essential elements of modeling “compassionate and intellectual relationships,” validating student’s experience, and developing classroom routines and management that lead to independence. She provides beautiful descriptions of how to support all students in order to “gain respect for the self by recognizing that greatness lies inside all of us.” In doing so, we can lay the necessary foundation for a literate community in our classrooms. She describes how to support teaching through transitions, materials, announcements and attendance, work rules, finishing work, and watching the time. The list of “routines that allow teachers to teach” on page 29 is one of the most clear and detailed in any book on classroom organization and management. Her goal is for our classrooms to have the same type of hum and buzz and productivity as any working environment in the outside world.