Putting it All Together and Trouble Shooting
I have used D5 for 4 years in my first grade classroom. I am so excited to start it in third grade and see how my year progresses. I am confident that it will be a great system in my classroom. I have found over the years that, like any system or philosophy, you have to make it meet you needs and your students’ needs. (Check out the freebies at the end).
Here are the ways I have modified D5":
- I still do traditional guided reading groups. I truly think this system benefits my students. I have incorporated the conferencing aspect in with my guided reading groups. The student that I do a running record with is the one I conference with and give feedback to while others are giving their book a first and second read. I have found that some teachers feel that D5 takes the place of leveled reading instruction and I personally don’t agree with that.
- I control the center rotation. I just haven’t found that the choice aspect works well for me. I traditionally have classes with many pullouts and they are incorporated into my center structure. Therefore, I want to control what the students work on when they are only present for part of the time. I also found that my students liked having a schedule. Every year I try both ways and they have told me over and over again they like having me set the schedule. It surprises me every time. However, I do incorporate limited choice into my rotations.
- I try hard to merge content and curriculum with D5. I love the idea of reading and writing every day – it is truly what makes this system so great. It is just that I need that time to be as productive as possible. I do not give extensive tasks, but I find that I have put more control into D5 so that students are writing pieces that compliment what they are learned, they are reading and using specific strategies we are learning, and word study is very structured to get the most use of the time. I just feel, that for this day and age in my state, I need more structure in what kids are doing.(Don’t get me wrong, I love D5 and it has dramatically changed how I run my time. It would be great for the way I was teaching 5 or more years ago. Presently, our curriculum has become so skill-based and packed in my district and state, that I really felt I needed to strike a balance between the D5 way and what I need to actually accomplish.)
- I do 4 or 5 rotations. I really feel that students should have focused practice in all areas of D5 every day. I tend to leave partner reading out in favor of handwriting sometimes in first grade. With this number of rotation, I find that 15-20 minutes is just the right amount of time for practice and I can fit my groups in. I tried the 30 minute thing, it was just too much for my little guys.
- I do 1 mini-lesson to kick off D5 and one lesson in the middle, after 2 or 3 rotations. I found the mini-lessons after each rotation was too much transition for my kids and I lost my instructional momentum. I started to feel like a spinning top and I really didn’t like that feeling. The “break” in the middle is extremely helpful for my kids to regroup and refocus on their learning.
Ways to Troubleshoot:
- Spending the time at the beginning of the year to introduce and practice expectations is critical.
- Having expectations posted and consistently reminding students of those expectations.
4. Revisiting the rules when needed.
5. Be flexible and change what isn’t working to meet your needs and your kids needs.
I know that the “rule” is to post only once a day, but rules are meant to be broken! The third part of how I got to where I am as a teacher will post later this afternoon.