Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Study! {Chapter 2: The Building Blocks}


As you know, it's on to Chapter 2 of our Book Study with Beth over at Thinking About Teaching!

What?  You're not following along?  Go grab a copy of Lisa Donahue's book, 100 Minutes, now!  It's okay, we'll be here when you get back. 

Chapter 2 is all about the building blocks of your literacy time: the routine, the instruction, and the workshop time, referred to as AWARD time.


Lisa starts off discussing the importance of building routines.  I don't know about you, but I'm a firm believer in spending a full 6 weeks at the beginning of the year, building community and setting expectations.  Lisa hits the nail on the head when she says, "The time that is invested in the first weeks of school to set stage for focused independent learning will be very much valued as the year progresses.  Independent work time makes it possible for all small-group instruction to happen" (p22).  When it comes down to it, independent work time is what it's all about.  Students get instruction from you and must have time to practice these skills.  It cannot be in a setting that is forced or rushed or boring and like Lisa stated on page 14, it must be important, relevant, and authentic to students.  There's no magic number that states for how long students should read and write each day- but we all know they should be doing both, for as long as possible, every single day in order to grow.

Now, with everything else teachers are expected to fit into a day, how in the world can we make it all happen?   There's the rub.  And luckily, 100 Minutes provides us some insight to what we can do, especially those of us who are struggling with a too-short day and barely any literacy time available.

Very similar to the Workshop Model, Lisa breaks down 100 minutes of Literacy time into a Reading Lesson, Writing Lesson, and AWARD time {Time for students to Apply Writing and Reading Daily}.  I kind of adore the idea of AWARD time {a real "workshop" time in my mind} where students are quietly working on separate tasks, focused on what you just talked about or what they need to complete.  It's very real world and full of purpose.


Sandwiched on either side of AWARD time is direct instruction.  This is where your typical mini-lessons would go.   What is your job during AWARD time?  Great question!  The teachers job is to meet with two small groups.  These instructional groups can be formed any way you need, in order to facilitate student learning.  "These groupings could include mixed-ability groups, talk-partners, instructional-level groupings, groupings by interest or topic, or self-selected partners" (p24) and should be flexible and always changing and adapting to your growing learners.

According to Lisa's planning, you are responsible for meeting with two groups for a Guided Reading lesson or a Writing Conference each day.  Lisa plans these groups so meticulously that each Guided Reading group you meet with, heads into their AWARD time to read independently, immediately using the skills and work you just discussed.  Likewise, a Writing Conference will happen after students have spent time working on their writing.  They will come to you with questions, concerns, and you will be available for answers.  As Lisa puts it, "Structuring a literacy block so that students are able to meet with the teacher immediately before reading independently and immediately following independent writing allows for timely instruction, feedback, and transfer of learning."  (p25)  Perfection.  She lays out a weekly plan in her book, which I would love to share but then why would you ever need your own copy?  And you should have your own copy.  Go grab one

I feel like this does a nice job summing it all up!
As the year continues, Lisa provides ways to enhance these 100 minutes, adding in all the pieces of a balanced literacy.  Not only does she tell you the what- she shares how to seamlessly do this and provides all sorts of tools for you to copy and reproduce, in her book!  I love that she includes a section on Building in Accountability {so challenging when you have all this workshop time}, a Week at a Glance, and a Sample Yearly Timeline for Introduction of Elements of the Literacy Block.  Word.

Are you blogging about the book too?  Please link up, below, so we can check it out!  


Be sure to stop by Kelly's blog, An Apple for the Teacher on Saturday to join in on the next installment!! Rumor has it, there may be a giveaway involved :)

There are a few guidelines that Lisa Donohue and her publisher have asked that people follow.
Please read through these carefully. 
  • Anything created for 100 MINUTES should be shared for free. 
  • Anything created and shared based on 100 MINUTES should include a disclosure statement  "Adapted from 100 MINUTES and not endorsed by Lisa Donohue." 
  • Please cite the complete publication information:  "100 MINUTES, (2012), Donohue Lisa, Pembroke Publishers" in order to make it easier for others to find the book.


  1. Kelly Anne, your post is AMAZING! I feel like I learned so much more about the chapter from reading your post and I promise, I did read it!
    I also love how you've organized your post with the colour coded blocks...love it all.
    Thanks so much.
    I'm really looking forward to seeing what else you think of the book.
    Thinking of Teaching

    1. Beth, isn't so funny how much we learn from each other!? I felt the same thing when I read your great post! I really appreciate your kind words and am looking forward to the rest of the book and seeing what everyone else thinks of it!