Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Daily 5 - Chapter 2

I'm so glad that I chose to join in this summer's book studies and read The Daily 5!  So far it has been great, and I've loved that I can see other's ideas on what we're reading too!  Today I'm talking a bit about chapter 2, From "Management" to "Principled Habits": Foundations of The Daily Five.  I'm linking up today with Nicole at Teaching With Style who is hosting the chapter 2 book study.

I felt like this chapter was so important and definitely something that I needed to read.  I want to foster independent learners who are engaged in meaningful work this year.  I'm so tired of busy work...I don't like forcing the kids to do it, and I don't like grading it! {Let's just be honest :)}  I think it all starts with these 6 core foundations (from chapter 2) that are essential to the Daily 5: trusting students, providing choice, nurturing community, creating a sense of urgency, building stamina, and staying out of students' way once routines are established.
We always try to make sure that our students trust us and feel safe in our classrooms.  But do we always trust them?  Sometimes it's hard to let go and give up a little bit of control.  So what else can I trust my kiddos to do?

We practice walking quietly in the hallway so we don't disturb other classes and working quietly so we're prepared for test days and presentations by our friends and guests to the school.  The kids all know what I expect, and I can trust them to walk quietly and work quietly when necessary.  Every day we record what we have done in our planners.  But...I write everything on the board every day and the kids copy it.  However, there were many days that the students started without me.  The days that I had to miss, I told my students that I would check their planners when I returned and it was up to them to fill in their work for the day.  They did.  So is that something I could trust them to do after modeling at the beginning of the year so I'm not using up class time?  I also checked planners every day before leaving reading.  Near the end of the year, I assigned a helper whose planner I checked to check the rest of the class.  Is this something I could trust them to do?  Maybe this could be a class job...Trusting the students to do these things could give us back 5 minutes or so of class time...not a huge amount of time, but about the time of a mini-lesson!  
I love to give students some choice in what they're doing!  Don't you like to have a choice in what you do?  I do!  However, reading is probably one of the subjects I teach that provides the fewest opportunities for choice right now.  With the Daily 5 that will change!  As I'm sure everyone has heard, there are 5 choices for students during the daily 5 literacy block: read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, work on writing, and word work.  The students can choose the order in which they will complete their daily 5.  I teach from a  basal and I'm used to doing things a certain way, so I can tell you right now, this is going to be difficult for me!  However, I love the choices the students are given, and I'm confident that I can use them to teach the same content.  I especially like that reading to yourself is a choice because I don't feel like my students have enough time to just read.  So while my students are learning to trust me next year, I'll have to learn to trust them to make their own choices within the daily 5!  Wish me luck! :)
Building a classroom community starts on day one!  From the very beginning of the year, your students are learning about you, and you're learning about them.  There are so many "ice breakers" you can use during those first few days to get to know each other, but I think there's more to it than that.  I want my students to know that it's not my room, it's our room.  With a  sense of ownership comes a sense of pride and responsibility.  By doing something as simple as writing our rules or a class pledge together we're taking a step in the right direction.  I also want my students to know that it's okay to not do everything perfectly and that we all make mistakes.  It's important for them to feel safe to try, safe to read out loud, safe to share their writing, and safe to make those mistakes without fearing ridicule from their classmates!  Building a strong and kind classroom community is where it all begins.
Creating a sense of urgency in students isn't about making them feel rushed or worried about finishing their tasks.  It's about making them feel responsible for completing their work and motivated to keep going and do a good job!  Giving students a choice in what they're doing gives them some motivation, but giving them a clear purpose for their choice adds to it.  The kids (like us) want to know why they're doing what they're doing.  Reasons behind what we do tell us why we should do it and  that makes it worth it!  In efforts to try to get assignments started (and finished) I don't always make it clear why it's an important assignment and what it's teaching us.  With a conscious effort to tell students why we're doing each lesson next year, I hope I'll see their attention to the lesson and motivation increase!
Creating independent readers doesn't happen overnight.  Those who finished assignments early in my class are always encouraged to choose a book and read quietly.  However, one thing I frequently noticed was that kids are up and choosing a book every 5 minutes...They often didn't sit and read the whole book.  They can read, but they didn't have the stamina to read for an extended period of time, so they were up choosing new books before finishing the first.  I didn't realize it then, but I didn't give them the foundation they needed.  Next year, we will start building our stamina from the very beginning in reading, writing, and working independently!
  Last year this was impossible.  I kid you not!  I didn't have the independent workers that could function without me for an extended period of time.  They were fine for 5 minutes, but then they needed to see that they were doing it right.  Next year after modeling behaviors, setting clear expectations, building stamina, and practicing what we're supposed to do, I hope that I can trust my kids enough to get out of their way and let them learn!

So, what else could I trust my kids to do for themselves that would help the daily 5 run smoothly in my classrom?

When you're students are making their daily choices, do you have any guidelines for them to follow other than the guiding questions mentioned in the book?  

The biggest concern that I still have is in sort of combining the Daily 5 with my basal.  We use Scott Foresman Reading Street in my district.  Do any of you have a reading series and use the daily 5 too?  Do you have any suggestions for me?  Can it be done?  {I'm not being very independent, huh?}

If you're still here, I admire your stamina!!  
That was loooonnng!

Make sure you come back tomorrow for some freebies and don't forget to enter my giveaway!!


  1. I'm curious, is is mandated that you use the basal or is this your preference? The reason that I ask is that the basal that my district adopted is not great and I don't use it (we don't have Scott Foresman) and it seemed like the Daily 5 might we more conducive without the basal, just a thought.

    1. I've never asked if I could do something's just what was given to me when I started. Everyone uses it except for one group at each grade level that does reading mastery.

  2. I have Reading Street and tried this year to do both the basal and Daily 5. I felt that I didn't give either the importance that I should. My mini-lessons were based on skills being taught that week. I pulled a guided reading group to read the story of the week. Word Work were the spelling words for the week. CHANGES for this year. I am dropping the story and selection test. I am giving the fresh reads as my weekly test because I am more interested in the skill and not so much which story they read. I am still using the target skills for reading and language to drive my mini lessons. Hope this helps.

    I also wanted to comment on something you said on community. ". . . mistakes without fearing ridicule" I just bought this book The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein. I think I am going to use this to accomplish some of what you were saying.

    1. Crissy, thanks for your input! I had wondered how selection tests would work out...this is definitely something I'll have to put some thought and planning into!

      And thank you so, so much for the book suggestion! I looked it up on Amazon, and it looks terrific!

  3. I use a basal series, but I pick the stories that I feel are beneficial for my guided groups. I had some very high and very low and a basal just does not meet all their needs. I did differentiate for stories I felt all of them should read. I used the resources from Reading A-Z to help them find good fit books and really help build confidence with my lower readers. It is a balancing act and you do have to meet and conference with students to find what is working for them.

    Surfin' Through Second

    1. Thanks Corinna! I have a lot to think about! :)

  4. I also use a basal series, Harcourt, and differentiated during my small groups. I pulled the skills from the series, but often changed the lesson to challenge the kids a bit more. I use out science leveled readers to challenge the children as well.

    As we are moving to common core, I am planning on alligning the comprehension skills with our basal, but changing the stories to those that have more substance. Our school has purchased A-Z for first grade next year and this will help with additional reading resources.

    The Resourceful Apple

    1. Thanks Tammy! I hope I can figure all of this out...the Daily 5 looks promising if I can make it all work!

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog and everyone's comments. I am moving to 3rd this year after 16 years in 4th. We have Reading Street also, though I have not used the basal very much previously. After reading the stories I'm thinking perhaps I can incorporate the basal within the Daily 5 framework much like Crissy & Corinna write about. I'm not planning on using all the stories...pick and choose appropriate stories based on skills. We'll see, I guess. We also have A-Z and it has its pros and cons as well. Anxious to hear what others have to say that use Reading Street. It will definitely be a work in progress.

  6. I just finished reading Daily 5 and we have Reading Street as well. What a great idea to use the fresh reads rather than the selection tests. We were mandated to use Reading Street, but we have a new principal now and she is encouraging us to step away from Reading Street. Frankly, I'm terrified! This will be my sixth year teaching and I've never really stepped away from RS. I know that I need to, but it's intimidating to go from basically having your day scripted to planning everything on your own.

    How much time do I need to have to devote to Daily 5? I typically only have 1 1/2 hours a day for the LA block, and that is it.

  7. After teaching special ed for 21 years, I am jumping to 3rd grade! I LOVE the D5 book and am setting up my classroom around that and CAFE. Our school uses the Treasures series, but administration is very open to not staying "married" to it. As we shift to CCSS, I will be using the basal as the "guide" for mini lessons, the spelling words and grammar skills for word work, but I am NOT using the workbooks! As of now, my plan is to do 4 rounds of D5 a day, and have the other hour for mini lessons...thanks for all the great ideas here!

  8. I am so excited for you to start the Daily 5. I think you will notice how much more the students will love reading when they choose! Good Luck. I one of your newest followers--I would love to have you come by and visit.

  9. I teach 4th grade and I also have been wondering how I was going to implement Daily 5 and Reading Street...I love all your ideas and enjoyed reading everyone's comments!