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Mini-Lessons for Literature Circles

4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  406 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Harvey Daniels' "Literature Circles" introduced tens of thousands of teachers to the power of student-led book discussions. Nancy Steineke's "Reading and Writing Together" showed how a teacher can nurture friendship and collaboration among young readers. Now, Daniels and Steineke team up to focus on one crucial element of the Literature Circle model; the short, teacher-dir ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Heinemann Educational Books
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Jul 08, 2014 Patricia rated it really liked it
Shelves: literacy
Yes, some of the other reviewers' comments about the book's "snarky and sarcastic" tone are fair. For instance, in some parts, teaching items that are unrelated to literature circles are referred to as "covering the curriculum." As someone who helped to write my students' curriculum, I don't care for the connotations of that phrase.

However, the pros far outweigh the cons. Unlike professional literature that devotes more time to theory than to practical application, the authors do a great job of
Mark Bratkowski
Aug 10, 2011 Mark Bratkowski rated it really liked it
This book is assembled into 45 mini lessons for literature circles. What I liked most about the book was the section for each lesson called "What Can Go Wrong". This shows that neither teacher, nor students, are perfect. I found this admission to be refreshingly realistic. I have read too many teaching theory books that possess a "do it this way, it will work" mentality, when often that isn't the case. I wasn't a huge fan of all the assessment strategies, although I did find them creative and d ...more
May 27, 2016 Claire rated it really liked it
I really appreciate Daniels and Steineke's warmth, humor and honesty in this very helpful little teaching cookbook. I love that each mini-lesson also includes a "What Can Go Wrong" section and how to avoid/handle those issues. It's so much easier to trust the advice of those who "get it" and don't act pretend that every little activity is going to be PERFECTION because the lesson is flawless and they're perfect teachers. They are realists about the inevitable classroom high-jinks while still bei ...more
Jul 28, 2009 Carol rated it it was amazing
This is a highly useful book for teachers who want to incorporate Literature circles (book groups) into their classrooms. It includes over 40 lesson plans and a few templates that cover mini-lessons for starting book clubs, keeping them running efficiently, and assessing them. It can be read in any order. Each mini-lesson is organized in the same way: Why do it? Teaching the Lesson. Working the Room. Reflecting. What Can Go Wrong? The book is highly practical. A teacher can go to the contents, f ...more
Marie Hockley
Feb 02, 2015 Marie Hockley rated it really liked it
This book has a lot of good ideas and strategies for teachers who want to encourage more self selected reading into their classrooms. What I really liked was the movement away from the role sheets of traditional literature circles (which I feel was just another form of readicide) to the formation of a book club format that promotes discussion.
Apr 30, 2016 Andrea rated it really liked it
So useful for getting started with literature circles. This was exactly what I was looking for. It's geared toward 6-12 teachers, but I think I will be able to use a lot of strategies next year with my fifth graders. I plan on buying this book and using it as my number one resource for teaching reading next year.
Syd Lindblom
Dec 26, 2015 Syd Lindblom rated it it was amazing
Whether or not you are planning on actually using literature circles, this book is full of good ways to facilitate and manage student-led discussion. All of the mini-lessons follow the same pattern, address potential problems, and are easily applied to any classroom and book.
Oct 27, 2013 Michelle rated it liked it
I am going to begin literature circles in my classroom soon, and I wanted a little quick PD (professional development) before jumping in head first. This book provided a great base knowledge. I think it had some great ideas, and I plan on using some of the mini-lessons in my classroom. I love giving the power over to my students in being creators of their own education, and literature circles definitely provide that. I am sure there are going to be bumps and growing pains along the way, and I ap ...more
Clint Heitz
Nov 15, 2009 Clint Heitz rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers, literacy coaches
Recommended to Clint by: Harvey "Smokey" Daniels
Yet another resource (a signed copy, in fact) that I always keep close at hand. The lessons that Daniels and Steineke share in this book are not only laid out in an easy to use/understand fashion, but they are also extremely flexible. I have had success with a number of these lessons both during and outside of literature circles.

A vote of confidence for this book: At the Walloon Institute, I asked Smokey (Harvey Daniels) what book he would recommend getting from the vendor if my wife only would
Jan 12, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing
I cannot wait to put this into practice with two rounds of literature circle groups I am currently about to roll into. I loved this book! Clear, realistic and refreshingly honest with sound theory behind every tool suggested. It helps that it's also a very engaging read!
Aug 15, 2012 Elaine rated it it was ok
Shelves: teaching
First of all, Book Clubs and Literature Circles are not the same thing. I felt I was highly misled by the title. There were a few useful lessons, I guess, but nothing terribly groundbreaking; everything in here has been repeated elsewhere, and I think better done. I did, however, like that at the beginning of each mini-lesson, the authors estimated how much time was needed. But you should take this with a heavy grain of salt -- every classroom is different.
Feb 05, 2012 Jada rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: other teachers
Shelves: read-in-2012
I enjoyed the idea of inserting mini-lessons into my classroom reading environment and look forward to implementing many of these as I prepare for my first literature circles. I wish I had read this book prior to starting the school year so I could have started out the year with an environment rich in these socially appropriate reading circle strategies, but look forward to working them in and then using them in future years right from the start!
Feb 18, 2009 Marcy rated it it was amazing
This book is a great complement to Literature Circles in that there are teacher Mini-Lessons teachers can use before each Literature Circle takes place. It is a way for teachers to USE interactive modeling, much like the Responsive Classroom, so students have a very clear idea HOW TO use their roles effectively and efficiently during each student meeting. The discussions students have, using teacher modeling this way, will be much more reflective.
Jul 29, 2011 Meg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: professional
So now after my third pass through this book, I see even more I can apply. The Folger Institute this summer made me finally see what Daniels discussed as tableaux performances of books. Then I finally got to an "ah ha" moment of what the authors meant by PERFORMANCE book projects.

Now to put all of these ideas into practice before the county or the business of the school day makes me forget my new ideas of implementation again!!!
Amy Bisson
Jan 12, 2014 Amy Bisson rated it it was amazing
Even though I am implementing literature circles at a younger grade level, this book has become my go-to resource. Appreciate the "What Can G Wrong" sections. Great advice!
Mar 11, 2008 Andrew rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Most pedagogy books suffer from a poor useful info:fluff ratio. This book is definitely an above average presentation of an extremely effective teaching tool. I very rarely find teaching activities or lesson plans that I feel comfortable using without some degree of modification. Many of the mini-lessons in this book, however, are good to go (e.g., written conversation, text coding, the book pass).
Aug 19, 2009 Jessica rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of educational theory in my day. That's fine. But what I need now is some concrete strategies for putting student-centered, inquiry-based learning in motion, and that's what Harvey Daniels gives me here. Dozens of detailed lessons that address all of the aspects of literature circles, and many which could be used at any point throughout the year to support student literacy.
Aug 10, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
This book is filled with all kinds of great ideas and lessons. For each mini-lesson, the authors include a rationale, procedure, and a troubleshooting section (helpfully titled "What Could Go Wrong?"). The inclusion of this last part is especially nice; it's clear that the authors view students as they really are, rather than the idealized versions of students often found in educational books.
Oct 09, 2011 Allison rated it really liked it
This book had some great ideas for any teacher trying to implement literature circles in his/her classroom. I enjoyed many of the ideas, but what kept me from giving the book a full five stars was the tone of some of the writing. Daniels at times seems a bit supercilious and I found it aggravating at times. Ultimately, however, the good lesson ideas outweighed any of my issues.
Betsy Marr
Jan 18, 2016 Betsy Marr rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teaching
"What activities, what interactions am I promoting that truly invite kids into the world of books, writers, and ideas? What am I doing to build enduring, wide-ranging, critical, and self-initiated reading?"
May 18, 2016 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This book was really useful in thinking about how to move reading-related projects in my class to a higher level of quality and complexity. I also really liked how, at the end, the authors included a template for how to make your own mini-lesson based on their process.
Lindsey Jones
Mar 03, 2013 Lindsey Jones rated it really liked it
This book is a good resource for teachers who are wanting to start literature circles in their classrooms. While it does contain good ideas, I don't know that I gained many new ideas. If familiar with Daneils and Steineke's other works, this book seems a bit repeat...
Mrs. Savens
May 23, 2013 Mrs. Savens rated it liked it
This book is a useful, but not ground-breaking,introduction to Literature Circles. My favorite section is the "What Can Go Wrong" section for each lesson. I found the book to be helpful and practical-- no short compliment for a teacher's book.
Oct 08, 2008 Meg rated it really liked it
Good, sometimes rather obvious, ideas. Easy to read. I like the way the authors anticipate what could wrong with each lesson and offer advice on how to troubleshoot the problems. Will pull off the shelf when the time is right.
May 02, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
Many of these mini-lesson ideas are quite useful, but as always, I find pre-prepared teaching materials in need of modification in order to be truly useful, objective-driven in my classroom.
Dec 20, 2008 Terry rated it really liked it
Shelves: teaching-english
Quite handy if you're going to structure lit. circles into your classroom. Works well for all ages, although I suspect there is more here for upper elementary and middle school.
Jun 18, 2011 Sara rated it really liked it
Overlaps quite a bit with Steineke's other book, but this one is very specific, practical, and honest about what works, and what the potential challenges are for an activity.
Feb 13, 2011 Janice rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for people who have never done literature circles. It's a great review for those who have done them but want to try some newe things.
Sirpa Grierson
Daniels and Steinke have written a practical series of mini lessons to go along with Harvey Daniels' Literature Circles classic.
Jul 19, 2012 Brenda rated it really liked it
Shelves: professional
Lots of great ideas for using literature circles in the classroom. Daniels gives real activities and handouts - not just theory.
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