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July 7, 2012

Daily 5 - Key things and Organization

I've been thinking a lot about Daily 5 lately, probably because I've been rereading it in conjunction with the book study at We Read, We Blog, We Teach.  Since I last wrote about it I have reread Chapters 2 and 3.  If you are interested in learning more, please click on the button to take you to the book study.
In Chapter 2 the key things that stuck out to me was how did I build the foundation of trust, choice, community, urgency, and stamina? How did I stay out of the way?  Now that I've done this for a good portion of last year, I have been reflecting on what worked well.

Trust - When I started in November of last year, I knew the kids.  I could basically tell you what they were thinking.  I had been wondering how I'm going to be able to trust the kids when it's time for choice because it will the beginning of the school year, and then it occurred to me that it is a process.  I won't be giving them the choices on the first day and expect them to do anything with it yet.  I can not stress enough that it is so important to take the time.  My students built their stamina quickly in the different areas, but it still took time to complete the entire launch.  My lesson plan book from last year has each area having about 3-4 days to implement each area instead of the 5 mentioned in the book, but it was also later on in the year.

Choice - Choice equals motivation.  Motivation means that students will want to be engaged.  It's a win win.  With me, I had to become comfortable giving up control.  Yes, I still taught the different choices, but when it was time for giving choice, I had to trust my students.  They did do a great job.  Below is how I do choices in my classroom.  I have the 4 pack of magnetic pocket charts (Scholastic Bonus Points).  I put these on the whiteboard and the kids move their name to where they want to go.  Since they only have 2 choices per day, it's not a lot of movement.
Community - The first weeks of school it's all about building community in the classroom.  How do I build it?  I use Tribes activities and a Bucket Filler classroom.  Each kid in class has a bucket (shoe organizer pocket) that they use to complement each other.  I let them write compliments to each other.  We read books about making the right choices, we discuss our feelings, we talk about bullies...  We become a group that cares about each other.
Urgency  - Students need to know "why" what they are learning is important.  Even though I tell them exactly why they need to know something, it's sometimes not enough to make it stick.  The other day I downloaded these Daily 5 Why posters from T is for Teaching.  She did a great job saying exactly what needed to be said.  I'm planning on posting these with our anchor charts.

Stamina - Like I said before, my 4th graders last year went a little faster than I expected them to need.  They did great with it, and it didn't backfire on me for only spending 3-4 days on each area instead of the full 5.  I really don't know if that's because it was later on in the school year, or not.  Any advice to share?

Stay out of the Way - It was so hard for me to stay out of the way last year.  I wanted to encourage them in their work.  I wandered around the classroom, and realized that my movement did have a reaction on their focus - and after we worked so hard to maintain their stamina.  It was amazing how well they did when I stayed out of the way.  I focused on the small group or individual student that I worked with, and the rest of the class did their part and work.  There was the occasional need to remind them to focus, but it was the whole idea that it was their choice - so of course they wanted to do it!

Chapter 3 has a bunch of stuff in it as well.  (Of course it does, it's a book...)  Some highlights that stuck out was the organization of it all.  I love organization!

Gathering Place - My kids did enjoy sitting on the ground - even though they are big 9 and 10 year olds.  I'm hoping to bring in a rug this year to make it a little more comfortable for sitting.  I've also been looking at my son's tshirts that he has outgrown.  I'm wondering if I could turn them into some type of pillows to sit on... oh, the thoughts...

IPICK - Teaching the kids that their book choices are so much more than just interest or reading level.  Last year I kept track of their book choices in a special Daily 5 binder.  Once a week I would wander around during Read to Self time (since I do it full class).  I wouldn't talk to any of the kids, just make notes about what books they are reading on their sheet.  I would glance over their shoulders and mark the page number and date.  When we met individually they would tell me about their books, recommend books to me, and then they would take an AR test on them.  They had little notes with IPICK in their book boxes for a reminder, and I had a poster up near the classroom library.  Here is the little note that they kept in their book boxes, and here is the individual book sheets that I had to keep track to what they were reading.  (F means they finished the book, Q means they quit before they finished.)  *I don't have a bunch of cute clip art at this point in time, so you are getting them just as I used them.  I would love to make them pretty someday.  =)

Book Boxes - I wanted to be able to stack the boxes when they weren't in use.  Some kids did decide to keep them under their desks, but mainly they were stacked against the back wall.  I picked up plastic shoe boxes at Walmart for $1 - they did a good job holding up to the demands of the books.  My students really only kept their chapter books in them, if they read picture books it was mainly just a one day thing.  To label the boxes, I gave my students an index card that they decorated with their name.  What I'm going to do this coming year is label the boxes myself.  Kids can still decorate their name plate, but I need to have a label on there that won't fall off so easily.
Anchor Charts - We made lots of anchor charts this past year.  Pinterest is a great place for ideas.  I'm so thankful for all the teachers that have posted ideas on it for both Math and Reading.  What helped me last year was looking up Pinterest on my smart phone, clicking on the image of the anchor chart, and saving it to my camera roll.  We don't have access to Pinterest at school, so this way I had my favorite anchor charts nearby when I needed a refresher on what I was making before the class came into the classroom.

I know I'm rambling about Daily 5... I'm sorry if I'm boring you.  I hope this helps someone!  


  1. I enjoyed reading this post because I have also been reading the Daily 5! The other day I sat down to read Ch 3 and didn't stop until Ch 6! Whew! I will be a first year teacher this year and was wondering if you could give any suggestions on how use Daily 5 alongside AR. My school uses AR pretty heavily and has access to all AR tests.. so there are so many books that can be tested. I am not sure how to incorporate taking AR tests in my Daily 5 (or if it should be a totally separate part of the day.. or if students should just take them whenever they are ready). Regardless, I was just wondering what your thoughts were on this and how it has worked/not worked in your classroom! Thanks!


  2. I give kids the option to take an AR test when they are done with independent practice in the other subjects, during Read to Self time after lunch, or during choice time. I link up the computers with Listen to Reading since the only other choice with that are the mp3 players. Hope this helps!

    1. Oh, I forgot to add that we go to the school library every other week and they have time there too to hop on the computers. Lots of options for them. :)

  3. Loved reading your D5 post! I'm reading the book and planning to implement it this year too! I'm also a new follower! I hope you'll check out my new manly blog!


    1. Thanks for stopping by and following me!


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