180 DAYS: Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents
by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle
From the publisher: “180 Days represents the collaboration of two master teachers-Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle-over an entire school year: planning, teaching, and reflecting within their own and each other’s classrooms in California and New Hampshire. Inspired by a teacher’s question, “How do you fit it all in?” they identified and prioritized the daily, essential, belief-based practices that are worth spending time on. They asked, ‘Who will these students be as readers and writers after a year under our care?’”
180 Days tracks Kittle & Gallagher’s thinking across the course of a school year, from planning, to execution, to reflection. I appreciated the way they made their thinking visible and offered ideas for why thinks worked, or didn’t.
In 180 Days, Kittle & Gallagher argue that daily reading and writing practice leads to stronger students. They achieve this by having 10 minutes dedicated to reading at the beginning of each class day, 10 minutes of daily notebook writing, a short mini lesson and then time to create for the rest of the period.
My main criticism of the book is that it relies very heavily on independent student choice, of text and assignments. For a lot of us working in education, that simply isn’t the reality.
My biggest takeaways were:
Do the assignments that my students are doing. Write with them, both to see how it feels and to show them ways that they can improve.
Create a predictable structure to each day. While I may not choose to devote 10 minutes to reading, 4 minutes to book talks etc. as Gallagher and Kittle do, I do like the way that they outlined the structure for students. Knowing what to expect, and establishing a routine, is important for teens.
Provide daily ways to practice reading and writing. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, right? We get better at things by practicing over and over. Giving daily opportunities to practice, inside and outside of the classroom, seems like a good way to build lifelong learners.
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