Monday, June 25, 2012

The Daily 5 ~ Chapter 2

What beliefs influence the decisions you, as a teacher, make in your classroom?
Each summer, I reflect back on how my year went with the group of students that I had and muddle over what I can do better for the next group coming to me in August. When I read Chapter 2 for the first time last summer, I had a few "ah-ha" moments with the six principles that Gail and Joan described.  Here are the six:

~ trusting students
~providing choice
~nurturing community
~creating a sense of urgency
~building stamina
~staying out of students' way once routines are established
Trusting students and having a nurturing community were the two principles that I felt I did well in.  I stress at the beginning of the year that we are a family and a community of learners. I feel the activities that I do in my classroom that first couple of weeks or months really bring my students closer together.  BUT even though I felt like I did a good job in these areas something was still missing that I didn't realize until this year when I implemented the DAILY 5. Usually at the end of the school year, my students are eager for summer break but for this group that I had this last year, that was not the case.  They did not want school to end.  They did not want to be away from the friends and family that they had become. I had never felt such a tug at my heart at the end of the school year as I did this year.  What a REFLECTION!!  Adding the other four principles to my classroom was a huge success for me last year.

I am going to go through each of the six principles and jot down sentences that I thought were important for me as I implemented this into my classroom last year.

1.  "Meaningful learning requires respect between the teacher and students as well as among the students themselves" ~ My students truly became a family last year.  They knew what the expectations were and what would happen if those expectations were not met.  They trusted each other and they trusted me.
2.  "Taking time to build trust and demonstrate caring is the foundation upon which all other elements of our literacy learning are built" ~ I talked a little bit about this in my last post - Don't panic that you are not getting into your focus groups or conferencing one-on-one the first month of school. Your main goal is to build that caring and trusting community so that the rest of the year runs smoothly.
3.  "When trust is combined with explicit instruction, our students acquire the skills necessary to become independent learners" ~ The "I-charts" for the DAILY 5 were amazing reminders to my students and myself on what their jobs were (and mine).  Be explicit when teaching these lessons for each of your D5 areas. I can't tell you how well it felt to be rocking and rolling in November and other teachers would be struggling because some of their students still did not participate in their centers like they were suppose too.  They started too soon and they didn't practice, pracitce and practice.

1.  "Children love structure and routine" ~ This statement is soooo true.  In my classroom, structure and routine is very important.  I try very hard to be as consistent as I can for my students.  Of course, I do need to be flexible at times when things come up that are unexpected. (We all know how that goes.) BUT structure and routine are the main keys for the D5.

With my experience with Choice last year, I began the year giving the students an opportunity to choose what D5 they wanted to go to. I did this for about one month, keeping track of which D5 they were going to with "the sisters" check list and then I changed back to scheduling their D5 for the day. I was having a hard time working the CAFE into the D5 with the focus lessons. I think it was just too overwhelming for me.  Even though I changed my procedure, I really didn't see much difference in attitude with my students.  For some of the students, it seemed like a relief that they didn't have to choose anymore.  For me, it just seemed to take too long for them to choose or they would choose the same thing every day.  It just wasn't working for me.  I will have to say that I too have been on Pinterest and pinning ideas for Daily 5 time.  One of the pins that I found was from Ms. Christina Bainbridge blog. 

The students are to check off which D5 they have gone to so they can keep track of where they have been.  I like this because some of my students couldn't even remember what they did the day before so they didn't know what they should pick. 

I saw another Pinterest idea and this one was using a pocket chart and some D5 cards.  In the mornings the students would come in, make their choices and place their choice in their pocket row for each of the D5 for that day. If I were to do this system, I would probably record their choices later in the day to make sure that they are not continually going to the same D5 each day.

(I am trying to find which blog I got these from but I can't seem to find them so if you recognize these pictures please let me know so that I can give them credit and give a link to their blog.)

You will be amazed at how well the students help each other throughout the day. They truly believe that they are a family and they work together to make that happen.  I'm not saying that we don't have our issues sometimes, we do, but we work them out together and I teach the students how to work things out without the teacher being present.

This is when you teach the students "WHY" they are doing what they are doing.  We start with explicitly explaining:
  • you read to yourself
  • you read to someone
  • you listen to reading
  • you write
  • you do word work
Last year, I decided not do the writing piece and I did computers instead.  (I had a separate time for writing.) This year, I am going to add that writing time to the D5 time with a focus lesson.  I will continue to have computers as part of my D5 time because I don't have any other time to do computers and the students will be working on the Lexia program which is phonics based.  My "Read to Self" time will be done separately from the D5 because my district has a reading and conferencing time in our schedule (30 minutes) so all my students will be "reading to self" at the same time.  It worked out wonderfully last year.  I really liked looking out and seeing ALL OF MY STUDENTS reading books at their "good-fit" level.  It was amazing and my principal and literacy coach were even amazed at the engagement of the students.

We have a courtyard right across from our classroom. We loved reading outside.

What can I say about Stamina? STAMINA was a huge wake up call for myself and the staff in our building.  My principal would show up in my classroom while I was teaching Stamina and she was so impressed with what was happening that she wanted me to share with the staff.  Of course, I shared at the next in-service. :)  We never thought about teaching the students how to sit and read, especially the older students.  We just assumed that they knew how to do this.  We were sooooo wrong.  What a difference it made!! Our intermediate teachers were so pleased.  Even our State Testing went fabulous because the students had the stamina to sit there and read and answer questions.  (It even helped with math also.) They didn't give up and just start clicking answers.  They had built their stamina and knew what to do. 

This one was easy to do for me.  The first day that we tried Read to Self, I moved everyone around the room to a spot and sat down at my kidney table.  I picked up my book to start reading, trying very hard not to look around at the students and began reading.  It only took one minute before I heard someone talking to another student.  I rang the bell (that is what I use in my classroom) and the students gathered back at the classroom library and we reviewed our I-chart. It wasn't hard for me to stay out of the way because I really didn't have time to get in their way. As the days and weeks progressed, the students read longer and longer and I would read at my kidney table. It was pretty cool.

I LOVE the D5 and the structure that it provides my classroom. My hope for next year is to improve the D5 in my classroom and really dive into the CAFE.  As I am reading these chapters again in this book, I am also reading The CAFE book trying to make things match up and make more sense of the process.  Thanks for reading my chapter 2 advice and I hope that it helps someone along the way in their classroom.

Unitl next week,  
         Happy Blogging              


  1. Very nice reflection on the chapter and again it is so nice to hear from teachers that have used Daily Five in their classrooms. Your experiences answer a lot of questions for me! When you talked about your class not wanting to leave for the summer it almost made me tear up because my class was the same way this year! I even had a classroom sleepover the last week of school in the classroom, it was so much fun! There is nothing sweeter than waking up at 7 a.m. to a roomful of 1st graders quietly snoozing away. So cute!

    1. Thanks for commenting Heather. I'm glad that I can help with questions.
      Your sleepover idea is such a GREAT idea!! What did you have to do to plan for that? I know that there are schools in our district that have sleepovers because they are camping but I have not heard about them staying in the classrooms. That would be soooo much fun!! Did you sleepover from Friday to Saturday? I am very interested in details! Did you blog about it?