Reconsidering My 100 Minutes


Lisa Donohue’s Incredible Book: An Amazing Resource For All Grade Levels

Over March Break, I ordered and read Lisa Donohue’s 100 Minutes. I follow Lisa on Twitter, converse with her there often, and was thrilled to meet her in person this year as well. I was also very eager to read her book. I’ll admit though that I just skimmed it. I was in the midst of doing many different things personally and professionally, and I didn’t take the time to really read and think about Lisa’s numerous suggestions. This was a mistake.

At the end of the school year, I wrote this reflection for the We Inspire Futures blog, and I spoke about my three goals for next year. One of my goals is to revisit my literacy block, and look at how students can have more opportunities to read, write, think, and create. With this goal in mind, I decided to re-read 100 Minutes this summer. This time, I gave this book the time that it deserves, and I realized that the suggestions in it really do allow me to meet this goal of mine.

Following the structural format in the book for my literacy block, I can not only provide direct instruction in reading and writing, but give numerous opportunities for students to apply what they’ve learned.

  • I can already see how the writing prompts from previous EQAO tests could be used as some of the writing prompts that we use in class.
  • I can see how I can differentiate the reading and writing activities that the students complete during AWARD time (Applying Writing And Reading Daily) to meet the Grade 5 and Grade 6 curriculum expectations.
  • I can see how I can use choice to have students take control over what they read and what they write.
  • I can see how students can use time during the Language block to help create learning goals and success criteria, and how they can use what they’ve created to guide them during independent practice time.
  • I can see how all of my students can be successful, as the activities are open-ended enough to allow all children an entry point.
  • I can see how technology can be meaningfully incorporated into AWARD Time, and how media literacy can coincide with reading and writing.
  • I can see how I can continually update the reading and writing activities to make AWARD Time meaningful and enjoyable.
  • I can see how timely feedback can be used to help students with their reading and writing activities (and how I can make this work in a real classroom with real students).
  • I can see the intersection of oral language, reading, and writing, and how I can use some of the strategies that I used this year (e.g., small group book talks and the 105 the Hive radio shows) successfully next year.

This book, and the many ideas in it, make me excited for school to begin in September! As I continue to reflect on what I read though, I have some questions where I’m looking for insight from others.

  • In the past, I’ve had good success providing many opportunities for collaboration. While students may read and write together, it’s incredible to see how much they contribute individually. They really do learn a lot from each other. 100 Minutes though seems to focus on more independent work. The biggest opportunity for collaboration happens during the full class reading and writing activities. While students may peer edit some writing pieces or discuss some books together during AWARD Time, this time is not really for group projects. While I can see moving my collaborative learning opportunities to the full class lesson blocks, I’m also wondering about collaboration during AWARD Time. How can it exist during this time? Should I be looking at ways to allow for collaboration during AWARD Time, or should I be focusing on independent work then instead? What are the benefits and drawbacks for each option?
  • I agree with Lisa that technology should not be considered an add-on. I usually emphasize this by allowing students to use technology “freely” during reading and writing activities. As part of Lisa’s AWARD Time though, she has a Tech component. I have mixed feelings about this. I do love how the students get the full AWARD Time to create using technology, but what if the students want to use technology to write their story or to read an e-Book? How could I use technology for both the Tech component and the regular component of AWARD Time? If devices are available, would it be feasible to devote so many of them to each of these components? This might be a possibility, but I’d like to hear what others have to say about this option.
  • Since I’m teaching a 5/6 split, I was looking at ways to incorporate Science and Social Studies into my literacy block. I can see using content area texts for guided reading, and I can see having reading options and writing prompts that link to the Science and Social Studies topics. Students may even want to research some of these topics during AWARD Time. What other ways could I allow for and support this integration?

Thank you, Lisa, for writing such a fantastic book that has given me so many wonderful ideas to consider as I prepare for another school year. I’d love to hear other people’s insights into 100 Minutes and into the questions that I’ve shared here. I hope that we can start a dialogue here about this great educational resource!


Liebster – Sharing The Love!

Thank you so much to Lorraine Boulos at Making Shift Happen for nominating me for a Liebster Award. The award is a fun way to recognize “smaller bloggers”: those with less than 200 followers. I’m honoured that I was included in Lorraine’s nominations, and I’m thrilled to recognize others in this post as well.

Here are the rules for the award:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.

2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers.

3. Answer the questions posted for you by the nominator.

4. Share 11 random facts about you.

5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.

6. Contact your nominees to inform them of their nomination.

My Nominees:

1. Sue Dunlop – The Reflection Pool: Thoughts On Leadership And Learning

2. Aaron Puley (I don’t know how many people follow Aaron, so I hope that I’m right.) – Bloggucation: Blogging About Education

3. Andrew Campbell (I don’t know how many people follow Andrew, so I hope that I’m right.) – Looking Up

4. Jocelyn Schmidt – Our Kindergarten Journey

5. Joanne Babalis and Angie Harrison – We Can See Project – These two have other blogs as well, but I love what they share (and what others share) through this blog.

My answers to Lorraine’s Questions:

1. Why did you go into teaching?

I went into teaching because I’m passionate about working with children. I always have been. When I was identified in Grade 2 with a significant non-verbal learning disability, the psychologist mentioned that I did not have the academic skills to be successful in university. She suggested that I continue to look at alternative post-secondary school options as I grew up. My parents knew that I wanted to teach though, and with their help and the help of some amazing teachers, I was able to go to university and become a teacher. My experiences showed me that all students can learn, and I wanted to ensure that they did.

2. What do you love most about your job?

I love working with children. I love seeing how excited they get when they understand concepts that they didn’t understand before and exceed even their own expectations. I love knowing that what I do can make a difference, and as cliched as it sounds, I love seeing this difference each and every day.

3. How do you use technology in your class or school?

I use technology in many different ways in the classroom. Technology has been a great way for my students to connect with the world, share their learning with an authentic audience, get help from numerous experts, and help others in return. Students use primarily social media (i.e., blog, Twitter, and various creation apps) to share their work online, receive feedback from others, and continually revise what they created.

4. How many students attend your school?

There are currently 820 students at my school: from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 8. I work in an area where the population continues to grow, so there are likely to be even more students registered come September.

5. If you could change one thing about Education, what would it be?

This is a hard question to answer. There are so many things that I love about education, and even areas that concern me, are not all problematic (or not problematic for everyone). I think I would want more support for students with Special Needs (be it in the areas of assistive technology, EA support, or even smaller class sizes) so that all teachers can see that every student can meet with success. Seeing this success makes a difference! 

6. What do you do after a bad day?

I drive home. I play really loud music in the car, and I take some time to think. I wonder about what I could have done to make things better, and then I come up with a plan for the next day. Usually after a good cry, I get excited about my solution. There’s always another day!

7. What is one of your proudest moments in education?

My proudest moment in education is summed up in Katelyn’s Story: a post about a student that I taught who has autism. Katelyn taught me a lot about teaching, and this is a post that I’ve revisited often.

8. Whose blog are you always excited to read and why?

There are so many blogs that I love reading, but probably the one that I’m most excited to read is Royan Lee’s Spicy Learning Blog. Royan shares numerous creative ideas and asks many thought-provoking questions that constantly have me re-examining my teaching practices. His writing style also makes his blog posts easy to read, which I enjoy if I’m perusing them before my morning coffee or after a busy day at school. 🙂

9. What is one of your professional goals for next year?

I find it hard to narrow my focus down to just one goal, but I do have three big goals for next year. I blogged about them on the We Inspire Futures blog. I guess you could say that I have literacy goal, a math goal, and a technology/learning goal. 🙂

10. What is your favourite inspirational quote for education?

My favourite inspirational quote for education is actually at the bottom of all of my emails, and it’s, “If they don’t learn the way you teach, teach the way they learn.” I wish that I know who said this quote, but it’s one that I live by. My philosophy of education is actually summed up by these very words.

11. Why do you blog?

I blog for so many reasons, and in fact, I even blogged about this very topic. You can see here the Top 10 Reasons Why I Blog. This post is old, but it’s still accurate.

Eleven Random Facts About Me

1. My sister is 13 months younger than me, but she skipped Grade 1, so we basically went through school together.

2. I just bought my first Mac computer (like Lorraine as well), and I’m absolutely loving it. I’m actually writing this blog post — my very first one — from my MacBook Pro. It’s really exciting! 🙂

3. I love to read, and I’m a really fast reader as well. I can usually read a book or two a day. I spend as much holiday time as possible reading.

4. I have a very eclectic group of favourite authors. I love suspense novels written by James Patterson and John Sandford, light fictional reads by Sophie Kinsella, and more classical literature, like those novels written by Charles Dickens. My favourite book of all time is Nicholas Nickleby.

5. I’m a punctuation nut. I get very excited about grammar, and I love reading about grammar rules. One of my favourite books is Eats, Shoots And Leaves by Lynne Truss.

6. I have two dogs that I absolutely adore. They’re both cocker spaniels. Toby and Zoe are very loyal to me, but probably even more loyal to each other. When one goes to the vet, the other one sits at the window and cries until they’re back together again.

7. I went to university in North Bay, and I absolutely loved it up there. I’m so not a winter person, but I became more of one after four years up north. My closest friends now are the ones that I met up at university.

8. I have one nephew that I absolutely adore. My sister and her family live in the States though — in Rhode Island — so I rarely see my nephew. Thank goodness for email, the phone, and Skype too! 🙂

9. I met my best friend in my second year of university. We’ve known each other for 15 years, and he’s always been there for me. He knows everything about me, and vice versa. I feel very fortunate to have this kind of friendship!

10. I don’t have a Facebook account, and I probably never will. Even though I love using social media professionally, I’m still unsure about using it personally. I may be one of the few people left in the world not on Facebook. 🙂

11. I don’t have a Smart Phone. In fact, I have a pay-as-you-go cellphone that I rarely ever use. My thought is that if I’m not in a wifi area, I don’t want to feel the need to be online. 🙂

Eleven Questions For My Nominees:

1. What do you love about education that you hope will remain a part of it for many years to come? Why?

2. What are your future educational goals?

3. How do you bring about change in your school and/or in your Board?

4. What changes would you like to see in education? Why?

5. What are your professional development goals for this year?

6. What word would you use to best describe you as an educator? Why?

7. What word would your colleagues use to best describe you as an educator? Why?

8. What’s your favourite educational quote?

9. What’s your favourite technology tool to use in the classroom? Why?

10. Would you suggest that other educators start to blog? Why?

11. How do you remain positive in education?