Sunday, May 25, 2014

100 Minutes Book Study - Chapter 1 - 100 Minutes to Balance Literacy

Thinking of Teaching

One of my favorite things about summer is that I really get a chance to dig into some professional development books.  I have a chance to read, annotate, and reflect about how to change and constantly improve my teaching practice.  I am really excited to start the summer with this book study on 100 Minutes - Making Every Minute Count in the Literacy Block by Lisa Donohue.

The author opens the book with a confession of how she originally spent the first 100 minutes of Language Arts.  She talks about the feeling of it initially being an immense chunk of time.  I had to chuckle, because I remember feeling exactly the same way when I started teaching (now it seems there is never ENOUGH time!). She filled the hours with reading activities, worksheets, independent writing, and spelling units.  She also describes her struggle with the line of students that formed needing help as they edited their rough drafts.  Many of the struggles she describes ring familiar with me, and I look forward to digging deeper in the book to find her solutions.

My thoughts on Chapter 1:

Lisa Donohue opens this chapter by sharing the core beliefs that the 100 minute model is based on.  These beliefs are that students need:
                                               *time for explicit teaching
                                               * time for guided practice
                                               * time for independent work

In addition, students need to have choice in their learning and the opportunity to have their individual voices to be heard.  Most importantly, she states, "students should see their learning as important, relevant, and authentic."

In defining the term balanced literacy, the author believes that we need to include not only the traditional fundamentals of reading writing, listening, and speaking, but also the models of instruction (modeled, shared, guided, and independent) alongside the vehicles through which we learn and communicate (print and on-line texts, digital tools, media texts,collaborative, learning, and critical thinking).

The 100 Minute Literacy Framework centers around three blocks of time:

                                                  1. Reading Time  (20-30 min)  Lesson
                                                  2. AWARD Time (about 40 min) Independent/Small group work time
                                                  3. Writing Time  (20 - 30 min) Lesson

I currently use the Daily 5 system in my classroom, but our district is switching over to Balanced Literacy.  In reading this first chapter i have a few a-ha moments.  I often struggled trying to keep up with 5 mini-lessons for my students, especially that effected the whole group.  My students have had very varied needs, and I found my small group lessons a lot more effective.  I could target my instruction to their needs rather than to a "lesson" to fill time. I like the idea of having only two main lessons - one reading and one writing, and I think this will be more manageable and effective.  I think the individual activities of Daily 5 (read to self, read to someone, work on writing, word work, and listening to reading) will work well with the AWARD time.  This may be that missing link or puzzle piece that we older elementary teachers have struggled with in implementing Daily 5.

What will I include in the reading and writing lessons to make them as effective as possible?
  How will I tie this into the Common Core Standards?

If you are reading along with this book, feel free to join in the discussion by linking up below.  I am looking forward to reading everyone else's thoughts and reflections!  

Next up- Chapter 2: The Building Blocks

Be sure to visit Kelly Anne over at Appleslices on May 27th to continue this learning journey with us. 


  1. I loved reading your notes and thoughts. I am not Dailey 5 trained and have never used it. I do Debbie Diller 's approach of independent centers. I also am trained in Literacy Collaborative model. I believe we have to adjust to our students needs and yes all these mini lessons stressed me out. So I do whole group and then when the students are in the independent working centers I do small group. I agree it works better.

  2. I agree with what you have said about keeping up with the 5 was always too much and never felt like we went deep enough with anything we were discussing.
    Thanks for linking up!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...