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180 Days

Two Teachers and the Quest to Engage and Empower Adolescents

By Kelly Gallagher, Penny Kittle

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.

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Full Description

“Teaching is art—creation—and a curriculum map is only as good as the teacher who considers it, who questions it, and who revises it to meet the needs of each year’s students.” —Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle

Two teachers. Two classrooms.
One school year.

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?”

What we make time for matters: what we plan, how we revise our plans while teaching, and how we reflect and decide what’s next. The decision-making in the moment is the most essential work of teaching, and it’s the ongoing study of the adolescents in front of us that has the greatest impact on our thinking.

With both the demands of time and the complexity of diverse students in mind, Kelly and Penny mapped out a year of engaging literacy practices aligned to their core beliefs about what matters most.  They share their insights on managing time and tasks and offer teaching strategies for engaging students in both whole class and independent work.  Video clips of Kelly and Penny teaching in each other’s classrooms bring this year to life and show you what a steadfast commitment to belief-based instruction looks like in action.

180 Days.  Make every moment matter. Teach fearlessly. Empower all students to live literate lives.

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)



Section One: Planning Decisions

1. Start with Beliefs:

2. Establish Daily Practices:

3. Map a Year of Reading:

4. Map a Year of Writing:

5. Balance Feedback and Evaluation:

Section Two: Teaching Essential Discourses

6. Narrative

7. Informational

8. Argument

9. Multigenre Research Projects


In Depth

This book is divided into two sections. Section 1, “Planning Decisions,” takes you through the process we used—and you might consider—to plan a year of teaching. The section includes five chapters:
1: Start with Beliefs
2: Establish Daily Practices
3: Map a Year of Reading
4: Map a Year of Writing
5: Balance Feedback and Evaluation
Section 2, “Teaching Essential Discourses,” begins with an introduction that explains the general framework for planning a unit of study in a specific writing discourse. Then, in the four chapters that follow, we detail the decisions we made in four discourse studies: narrative, informational, argument, and multigenre. Our hope is that by reading about the decisions we made as we planned together, you will be inspired to reimagine the beautiful possibilities for your teaching.

— Introduction


Companion Resources

Figure 3.5 - Track Your Thinking

Figure 3.6 - Questions to Navigate a Story

Figure 5.10 - Reflecting on a Year of Writing and Reading

Figure 7.9 - "They Say / I Say" Templates


This book is a brilliant work of architecture—the making of an English course. How do you shape the movement of the 180 days, balancing open space and structure, individuality and assessment, breadth and depth (not to mention managing the damn thing). Two of our country’s most innovative teachers, Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher take on this challenge in a cross-country collaboration, exploring the art of the possible. This book—and its amazing video accompaniment—illustrates not so much the fixed course everyone should teach (even they don’t totally agree on that), but how to think through the making, and the principles that should be its foundation.—Thomas Newkirk

Spending 180 days on the job and in the world with Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher is like apprenticing yourself to a year in the kitchen with two master chefs who speak honestly and passionately about the challenges we face and the choices we must make every day in our own classrooms. I learned something new on every page, verbally annotating just about every suggestion with a mental “Yes!” or “Try this!” At every turn, they acknowledge and address the constraints, especially of time, we all face in our classes—then show us how they manage to teach their students so much and so well despite those constraints.—Jim Burke, author of The English Teacher’s Companion

"This book is everything. I mean this whole-heartedly and without exaggeration – this book is everything. It is everything I needed when I began teaching, and it is exactly what I need now to reflect on my practices, my curriculum, and my kids. The depth of knowledge and experience here, living alongside the breadth of thinking across the time and space of a school year, takes my breath away. Thank you, Penny and Kelly. May my children have teachers who have read and used this book."--Kate Roberts, author of A Novel Idea

Who among us hasn’t wished to be a fly on the wall of Penny’s and Kelly’s classrooms? In 180 Days, we aren’t just flies—we are invited into their brains, their plan books, and their friendship as they answer the question that plagues every teacher: how to do it all in one year? This book is not about how to find time where time doesn’t exist. It’s not about turning 180 days into 200 days so you can fit everything in. This book is about making decisions about what really matters enough and how to make the most of the time we are given with our students. It honors teachers as decision-makers and reminds us of the power of professional collaboration to change not only our students’ learning but also our own professional lives.—Allison Marchetti and Rebekah O’Dell, coauthors of Writing With Mentors and Beyond Literary Analysis

Related PD Services

PD Resources From Kelly Gallagher


PD Resources From Penny Kittle