August 19, 2012

Daily 5 Reflection and My Questions - Please help!

Stay inside people! Have you heard? It is tax free weekend in Texas and the stores are packed!
Or at least that is what everyone is saying on Facebook.  That's a reliable source, right?

I desperatly need to go to Staples, but I'm scared. I hate crowds...and long lines...and traffic.  So, pretty much, going out to join the hoards of back to school shoppers is a terrible idea.

Instead, I spent my day finishing up The Daily 5.  Now, I know... I know everyone in the blog world has already posted on The Daily 5 because 1) it's awesome and 2) there were so many great book studies going on this summer, but I'm a little behind and I'm hoping you will still read and provide advice, feedback, and wonderful words of wisdom.

I actually read The Daily 5...wait, let me check my reading log...back in August 2008.  Since reading it then, I have used bits and pieces of Daily 5 every year.  The steps they use to train students and build stamina are indispensable. I honestly can not imagine setting up expectations in my classroom without using their method. However, I have never gone all out Daily 5.

This year, many other teachers at my school are trying out Daily 5 and so I'm going to jump on board ALL THE WAY.  Okay...most of the way. I have to tweak it to give my kiddos more writing time as I teach 4th grade and have the writing test looming over my head and I'm counting my read aloud as Listen to Reading, but...mostly...ALL THE WAY.

I'm thrilled that so many teachers will be switching to this framework.  I teach at a low-income school and our students have very little structure and predictability in their lives.  Daily 5 gives that much needed structure and a common language. Love that!

So... this was actually my 2nd read through the book cover to cover. On my second read, I caught some things that I must have missed and/or forgotten over the years. Many of these thoughts are just reminders of things we know but I find myself forgetting about when I get back into school full swing.

My Thoughts:
  • Do not stop talking about Good Fit Books! Ever! Keep having that conversation and using that language all year. I know, duh, right?  Yet... I know I am less focused on that come November when I am focusing more on thinking strategies.  Yet, if a kiddo does not have a good-fit book, how will they become a better reader?  It's just that important.
  • Always walk them through the IPICK book steps when they are choosing a book. This helps solidify the language and the process of finding a good-fit book.  (see above) 
  • Use students All About Me survey from the 1st day of school to help you fill book boxes.  Although the reading level might not match, hopefully there will be interest in those books.
  • Create an anchor chart for what to do when you hear the signal. Um...brilliant. Why have I not done this in the past?
  • When creating an I-Chart give them some information, don't let this be a full on guessing game. i.e. "Why do you think we read to self?"  Go ahead and say, "We read to self to become a better reader. (write that down on anchor chart) What are some other reasons we might read to self?" Then, take a few ideas.  If they haven't hit upon the main points.  Go ahead and tell them - teach them.This will help keep lessons short and focused. I am a master of the 30 minute long mini-lesson. Wait?  30 minutes?  That is no longer mini my friends.
Book Clipart Images
  • Place students around the room for practice for the first few days and choose different spots for each kid the following day.  In the past, I always let my 4th and 5th graders find their own spot. I thought they were too old to be placed. But, I think it will be really beneficial to place them this year so they will experience success in a variety of locations. It will also tell them where it is acceptable to read and where it is not without me having to say, "Nope.  Not there.  Find another spot."
Alright, those are pretty much the highlights. Good reminders I think, don't you? I really do love this book because I think the sisters explain their framework so well.  It is very clear how to establish Daily 5 and create a classroom of independent productive students. 

My Questions:

I do have a couple of questions for those of you out there who are experienced in full Daily 5. Please help!

1) When you pull small groups during a rotation, the kids will likely be coming from various daily 5 activities.  Do they make up that activity or do they skip an activity that day?

2) What do you do for reading grades?  In my current district, I must have a minimum of 9 numerical grades each nine-weeks. Grades must be taken from a class wide assignment on 4th grade material, meaning I can't differentiate graded assignments too much. (If I do, RTI becomes an even bigger mess and I can't get kids help if they really need it because their grades are too high?  Does anyone else have this problem?)

My Personal Side Note:

Yes, I have my own reading log. I have kept a reading log since I graduated from high-school.  To this day I still record everything I read on it. It's pretty interesting to look back at the reading fads and authors that I have loved over the years. I highly recommend starting one if you don't already have one.  My students always find it fascinating and very motivating.

Please, oh please, leave your thoughts and comments below.  I would especially love to hear how other teachers balance good assessment like anecdotal/conference notes with the mandates of numerical grades.



  1. I will be implementing Daily 5 for the first time this year. I have the exact same questions as you. I'm struggling with how to combine my school mandates with the Daily 5 structure. I will be checking back to see what others have to say.


  2. Hooray! The best way to do D5 is to do it all the way. You are going to love it! The hardest thing for me was giving kids choice. It was hard for me to let go of control and trust the kids.

    You know, Amanda, I will be doing D5 for the first with fourth graders this years. Shall we be D5 buddies? I can't wait to try it out with older kids!

  3. What if you had a D5 log, where the kids had to reflect on their learning for the day/week? You could go over the expectations for the responses/work habits, create a rubric and assign a grade that way?

    And what about a rubric for reading participation/reading log, etc?

    I also grade their graphic organizers for reading.

    I hope this helps!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  4. Have you checked out this blog?

    It is an intermediate study of how to implement D5 and CAFE.

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks Julie! I have checked it out. Lots of good activity ideas. :)

  5. I did Daily 5 in first grade for 3 years. This year I'm teaching fourth and we are following a Reader's Workshop format so no Daily 5. :( I'm kinda missing it. If the kids missed a area, they just missed an area for the day. Most days I only had time to get in 3-4 reading groups so the kids only did 3-4 Daily 5 areas in a day. I agree with Heather, the only way to do Daily 5 is to do it all the way. I did switch it up a little last year. My kids weren't independent enough to stay on task without some very structured activities in each area so, I put 4 - 6 activities in Working with Words and Working on Writing. I required them to do a different activity each day but I didn't care what order they did them in, that way there were still making their own choices. That is a big part of Daily 5, letting them feel in control. This way they were picking what activity they did, but I was limiting the choices.
    As far as grades, we simply did a DRA test each quarter and gave a grade of Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, or Advanced. We never had to give letter grades so I'm not much help with the grade issue. Maybe you could focus your reading groups on the same basic skills for the week and then do a common assessment on Friday with the whole class that was over the skill you were focusing on with all of them in their individual groups? Just an idea off the top of my head.

    1. Hi Robin! Thank you for sharing your experiences. I'm trying to figure out how to run Daily 5 within school/district mandates and my schedule. It's not easy, but I'm hopeful.

      My students will also need a lot of structure. I felt so much better when I read in the book that kids at low-income schools need a bit longer to get used to everything before they pick and choose their activities. Mine will definitely need more time to get used to everything.

      When I taught in WA we used gave grades above, on, or below grade level here. In TX we give numerical grades, so it really changed the way I assessed my students. I can't rely on anecdotal notes for report cards, just to inform my teaching. It's been a change, but I'm getting used to it.

      I think you're right...I will just have to have a day where we don't do daily 5 and they take a common assessment. Hmmm..lots to ponder.

      Thanks again for your advice. ~ Amanda


Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!