Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Daily 5 - Main Components

I have been rereading the Daily 5 book by Gail Boushey and Joan Mosher. I first read this book 4 years ago and began to implement portions of D5 mid-year with my students. I love how the principles of this philosophy changed my thoughts about teaching and how my classroom worked. If you have not read this book, it is definitely a good one!

I might be crazy for picking it up right now because I am reading the Math Work Stations book by Debbie Diller and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. I am also involved in Math and ELA curriculum work in the coming weeks. Then I start thinking about the fact that we rewrote our grade level social studies curriculum a few years ago and I want to take time to beef that up and we reorganized our science curriculum last year and I want to think more about that. (If anyone has any ideas for teaching simple machines to beginning of the year firsties, please let me know! We moved our unit from late winter to mid-fall.) My mind is spinning! I might see how this goes and pick D5 up later if I am finding that I can't keep my focus.

If you have not read this book, it sets forth a premise for setting up independent literacy routines with your students. All of the literacy "center-type" activities that you do in your classroom fit into this structure, but are simplified. The work time consists of 5 essential literacy activities:
  • Read to Self
  • Read to Someone
  • Listen to Reading
  • Work on Writing
  • Spelling/Word Work
It is not necessary to do all five activity types in one day, but they provide for well-rounded practice over a short period of time, say a week. Generally, I have students Read to Self, Work on Writing, and Work on Words daily, with Read to Someone and Listen to Reading alternating. I will share more details later in the series.

Chapter 1 of Daily 5 goes over the philosophy of D5 and how it developed and evolved. Chapter 2 of Daily 5 talks about the foundation blocks habits to develop for independent work times:
  • Trust
  • Choice
  • Community
  • Sense of Urgency
  • Stamina
  • Staying Out of the Way
Trust and Community - I spend a lot of time developing this foundations the first few weeks of school. The trust and the community are part of your typical beginning of the year routines where you build you classroom community and help your students get to know each other. Many of my students are pretty familiar with their classmates, but I build community in a few ways. We play lots of games, but there are 3 literacy-based traditions that I start with right away.

1. I have my students do a self-portrait and write about how they felt on the first day of school. Students share this and when they are complete, the posters go in the hallway for open house. I attached the printable I plan to use this year. I included 3 different levels of sheet for differentiation. It is a good first day activity for morning work to have the kids color the paper doll to look like them in their first day outfit. I also add a first week photo to the posters.

Click here for the printable

2. I have students share a favorite book with the class. I put this request right in my Welcome Back letter. Students bring in their favorite book to share what the book is about and why they like the book. This provides a great opportunity to practice oral language and practice for DRAs. It is also a great time filler when you are not sure how long students will spend on activities! I just have students keep their books at school for about a week and put them on display.

Click here for the printable that I plan to use this year.

3. All About Me Writing - We use a writing system that advocates using graphic organizers for "formal" pieces of writing. I introduce students to webs right away by creating a web about each student. Their name goes in the middle and there are 4 branches: favorite color, favorite food, favorite hobby and one other idea - you can brainstorm this with the kids or sometimes for fun I do their least favorite food. I put this web on the top of chart paper. We then write a "story" about each student, writing 4 sentences that are brainstormed by the class. I try to prompt them for different language to start each sentence. The kids LOVE this activity and they can't wait to be next. I usually write about a boy and a girl each day. Again, this is a great time filler, is a great display for open house, and provides a way for the kids to get to know each other. I need to go pick up my chart paper, but will make the masters for the year and post a picture.
Choice - I probably give more controlled choice than was intended. Sometimes students make their own choices in "centers" and activities, sometimes they have a selection of choices, and sometimes they have required activities. I will outline this more as I go through each section of what I do.

Sense of Urgency - The idea behind this is that you want to let students know that the work they are doing is important practice and they need to get started right away and work hard the whole time. This comes with set up the routines the Sisters recommend and setting your expectations, holding students accountable for their work.

Stamina - This can be a tough part for me. I get too impatient to set students out on their own and get started with reading groups. Every year I try to take more time to build stamina and every year it gets better. We create a graph as we build up our stamina to show how many minute we are working quietly on the given activities. There are several on the web, including on www.jmeacham.com (she has a lot of great material applicable to D5). Click here for my version of the stamina graph. I attach the heading to the graph on a vertical piece of 12X18 construction paper. Last year I laminated these sheets and used dry erase markers. I work up to 15 minutes at the beginning of the year and then towards 20 minutes the second half of the year.

Stay Out of the Way - This comes with time in the process. Once you have everything set up and students working independently, I have found that I need to tweak things to keep the, fresh, but essentially I can just "stay out of the way."

This has helped me to wrap my brain around some beginning activities and how I want to start the year. I hope this is helpful to someone else!

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