Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Daily 5, Chapter 1

While attending a district curriculum meeting earlier this school year, a colleague of mine from another school told me about a great literacy “program” called The Daily 5 (D5), written by Gaily Boushey and Joan Moser, she started this year.  I was intrigued because my 2nd grade team and I have spent the last couple of years researching and trying new ideas to add explicit reading time into our day.  Michelle loaned me her books, and I planned to delve into them over the summer.  Then just last week, another colleague at my own school told us about an online book study hosted by Seusstastic Classroom and Teaching with Style
on the very book I had planned to read.  It started this week, and I studiously read chapter one last night.

Since I’m not a teacher blogger (just a teacher who happens to blog) I was on the fence on whether I would participate via my blog or not.  But I’d like to take advantage of the links and ideas of those who are using the program and also, possibly, get some questions I have answered.  If you are one of my regular readers, feel free to join in on the discussion if you wish.  If not, these posts will just be once a week for a few weeks.  Let’s see how it goes!

d5 chapter 1
Book Study Questions
  On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?
We’ve worked really hard over the last year or so to add a lot more independent reading time to our day, but we’ve struggled, like most teachers do, fitting IT all in.  I’ve felt a little tethered to the 3-4 leveled group reading rotation, with various centers, computer time, and standards based seatwork.  After the first few months it runs decently with few interruptions, but I have always felt the time away from the group wasn’t as quality as I’d like.  I want them reading during that time, but the lack of independence and ability to choose appropriate books has been so challenging.  I am SO excited by the idea of the reading, word work, and writing being done during this time AND independently.  I also like the idea of letting go of the idea that work product is necessary to show that something was accomplished.  I know that, but it’s good to hear it again.

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 
To be perfectly honest, most of what we do at my school is creating quality test takers.  The activities we do are mostly skill/vocab based because, as most of my students are ELL, their vocab is VERY limited and over half the state testing is vocab based.  I know that this is not the way to teach reading, but we’ve been under so much pressure that’s how we’ve done it.  Which is why I’m STARVING for ways of creating readers.  Since actual writing (just multiple choice questions about writing) is not part of the standardized testing, I’ve had much more freedom with what I do during that block of time.  Although the writing genres are dictated by the district (summary of narrative, summary of expository, and narrative writing).  We write all the time.  The kids read quality writing in picture books and stories.  I model for them and they model for each other.  I do wish to give them more freedom in their writing – what they want to write about.  Again, since we have genres we must do, I struggle with adding new ones.  I’m hoping D5 will allow for that during the independent time. 

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
Literacy based independence that increases the kids’ enjoyment of reading.  Due to this independence, the activities they do on their own are directly related to becoming a better reader.  How great is that!!!

I do have some questions that I’m hoping those already using D5 can answer, or maybe they will be answered later in the book…

1.  Where does phonics instruction fit in?  Is it part of the Daily 5 block or done during a different time. 

2.  During the time the teacher is working with students (as shown in the model) is this where the leveled groups would be or are they more heterogeneous groups based on specific skills as needed?

I’m so VERY excited to study this book further.  I’m in need of something new and student (instead of test) focused injected into my program.  This might be it!  You can visit others who are participating in the book study or add your blog post about it below using the linky thingy below.


  1. I always found it instructive that people around about where I live, we're like Kentucky with the volume of race horses, can calculate odds like a Cray computer. But would have difficulty with 7x7. They are good at it because they are interested in it.
    I think that can be transferred to kids also with reading or pretty much anything else. Find the thing the kids are 'into' and their own greed will lead them by the nose to where you want them to get to. I cannot help but believe that having State wide readers is as ludicrous as having readers written for the English upper middle class as with Enid Blyton being foisted on Irish republican kids since what resonates in 90210 about sailing or skiing is far far faaaaaar from the lives of descendents of Mexicans where folklore might get to gold.

  2. @Vince - Yes! That's exactly it. Like that fishing proverb...if you teach them to fish, they eat for a lifetime. I feel like I've been spoon feeding, or maybe even force feeding, these kids due to the pressure we are under to get good test scores. My test scores are good, but other than a few I've not been developing life long readers. The colleague who introduced me to the book said that, for the first time ever, every single student in her class is reading for pleasure. That's pretty cool.
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, as usual.

  3. I think it's great that you are participating and posting on your blog. As the mother of two young children, I find it quite interesting.

    1. @unknown mami - thanks! I hope it offers you some good info too!

  4. How fun to be excitied about teaching!
    I am beginning to feel this way when I think of planning for a new grade level. I would love to take the Reader's Workshop that I took last year but for first grade...even though I will only be in 1st for one year.

    I look forward to hearing more about your ideas and thoughts on this book.

    Happy Thursday!

  5. @Marey - Yes, it is nice to be excited. I was just telling someone today that the last couple of crazy years has kind of killed my spirit. This sounds like just the pick me up that my classroom needs.
    I can't wait to hear about how your looping goes this next year. I've thought a lot about how fun it would be to loop with the class I have this year (the previous two years would have put me into the ground). How nice to have them join you on the first day already knowing you and the room and the procedures.

  6. I was running this about in my head and I've come to the conclusion that it could be quite a nightmare also. Say for instance a book was picked. How would you pick it. Vote ?. But that wouldn't really work since it would split on sex. Then you've got the mothers that are fixated like the ones 'agin' boys with toy guns/swords what-have you. But mostly how do you get round the personal taste where one lot are dragon slayers and another sitting in a tower, for if you pick it won't you be introducing your notions and thereby scuttling the purpose.
    And are any publications good to go. I remember my mother considering comics not very good.

    1. @vince - yes that's true. Choosing books for the entire class is difficult. The ones in our provided anthologies are usually pretty neutral, cute stories about animals or families. But cute can lean more towards the girls than the boys I guess. I think learning how to choose books at their level that interest them is the key.
      As for magazines and such, there are some good ones geared towards kids like Nat. Geo. for Kids, Time for Kids, and other weekly readers that are great for expository text. The kids love those. But to be honest with you, comics, graphic novels, heck the National Enquirer, if that's what motivates them to read I'm game!

  7. #2 answers why I'm not a teacher. I hate the instability of freelancing as a writer, but I only like teaching kids how to create with writing...

    That and I'm afraid I'd feel too cooped up.

  8. @BD - Yes, our hands can be tied in that capacity. As for being cooped up, it's not too bad. Lots of outside breaks are easy to take. They haven't locked us in our classrooms...yet. :)

  9. Thanks so much for linking up to the D5 book study! Love your blog!
    Mel D
    Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations

  10. I teach phonics in the mini-lessons between choices, in small groups, and through word work. My small groups are often my leveled groups--I haven't gotten to that perfect balance the sisters speak of when you can pull 2-4 kids by needed strategy/skill. I don't get to every group every day, but it balances out when I do my conferences. I found your blog through the link up icons--am looking forward to reading more about what you discover!

    1. Thanks for your input! That's what I was envisioning, so I'm glad to be on the right track. I think with most of these programs, it's a mix between what can happen in the perfect world and fitting that in to the reality of today's classroom. I'm looking forward to exploring further.

  11. I've seen a lot of this on PInterest, I think. Figure it out for me, okay? ;)

  12. Just had to say that I too am a teacher that happens to blog! I admit though...I'm a blog-virgin! I decided that it would be my summer project and it coincided perfectly with the D5 book study. Re: the D5, I'm a little concern for the independence given to the students. I teach SPED/Inclusion students who need a lot of structure. I'm hoping to get ideas from others. Thanks for your thoughts! Mrs. Pelaez