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August 25, 2012

Reading Assessments, Daily 5, and my Future Sanity

I did some assessments this past week - the STAR assessment through Renaissance Learning and a beginning of the year Fluency test. The results were more spanned than any I can remember of previous years. Out of the 30 kids that I tested (2 new ones came on Thursday and Friday that I haven't had a chance to get to), 21 of them are reading below grade level. The other 9 are either at grade level or advanced. Basically the range in my class is from preschool level to middle school.  Remember, I teach 4th grade.

At least I have taught primary grades before and had the materials to pull out of the garage. I knew what resources to ask to borrow from the primary teachers at my school. This weekend I need to get organized.
Daily 5 is going to be the perfect resource in my classroom this year. I see no other way to tackle all the needs other than working with individuals and small groups. So far, in the past 2 weeks we have built our stamina with Read to Self, Work on Writing, Listen to Reading, and Read to Someone. This next week we are going to start Word Work activities. It's still going to be a while before I can set them free to make choices with all the areas- but this class loves being able to make choices when they have 2 or 3 options.

Read to Someone is something that I do only on Wednesdays when we reread our weekly story (with the checkmarks), and again on Friday afternoons when I give that option during Read to Self time.  I won't be giving them this option anymore than this amount of time because it gets too distracting for the other students that are doing an independent option. 

As for Listen to Reading- well the choices at present only include the mp3 players with our weekly story, or working on the computers. I haven't pulled out the Kindle Fires yet.

Work on Writing is only an option if they finish the required writing assignment - but it's motivation to get going.  This past week we were working on a Summer Sandwich story - it's a 4 paragraph essay that gets stuck together in a sandwich looking format.  I'll share more about that on another post.  Some kids just finished it yesterday, and others are only half way through.  The finishers will get to choose their own option next week.  I'm excited to show them everything they can do.  

Lastly, Read to Self is working beautifully. We started it the first day with our anchor chart and the shoe lesson (IPICK), and we are up to 20 minutes after 10 days of working hard at it.  We started at 3 minutes and add 2 minutes each time if they complete it without issue. They seem to love laying on the ground curled up with a book, relaxing with my t-shirt pillows, or lounging in the random seating that I have throughout the room. I'm giving them the option of keeping their book boxes under their desks throughout the day - so they always have a book handy to read when they have a free moment. (Thanks Book Whisperer!) Reading is the only option if they finish something early.

So what do I need to prepare this weekend? Well I have fluency stories that are 4th grade reading level, but I needed to borrow some to scan/copy material from the 2nd and 3rd grade intervention books. The kids that scored pre primer & first grade will tackle the 2nd grade passages, the 2nd will tackle the third, and the 3rd and 4th levels will start on the grade level stuff.

I also need to print out specific sight word lists, and make special folders to hold all the materials for the 4 different groups in the classroom. I'm thinking of using the names of the 4 regions in California to name the groups. Doing that mainly since we have been tackling regions for the past 2 weeks and the kids are so excited about them - we are making our Salt Dough maps this coming Friday!!  

The Desert will be my group that needs a lot of extra "water" and resources to thrive. 

Mountains still need extra assistance as well to grow though they won't need it as much as the Desert.  

The Valley group will be the group that is at grade level - it is "home" to us and are producing a lot of "crops" already.  

My Coast group will be the group that is able to relax a bit since they already know the basics.  They get to "sail" the ocean with what they have already learned.  I just need to challenge them this year.  Of course I won't tell the kids all this stuff - all these puns are just for me to have a picture of what I need to do to get them all as far to the Ocean as possible.  I really do love the Ocean.  :) 

For my advanced readers I need to pull material that will challenge them without making more work for them to do.  I'm so used to intervention that this is something a little new for me.  Any advice of activities that will get their minds working?  I know I posted the same question on Facebook - I need help please!

Yeah, I have my work cut out for me this year.  It's going to be a good year, though a challenging one.  At this point in time I'm really not worried about the spring test scores - I know I will do my best, and I will push them as much as I possibility can.  Start praying for my sanity!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post! We start after Labor Day (4th grade teacher also:) and I will be starting D5 for the first time this year. I am anxious to see how it will all work. Our school is also using the STAR program for the first time this year. Thank you for sharing your thoughts:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

    1. Best wishes! Daily 5 is great - you just have to make it work for you. :) So many options to choose from. As for STAR - there are a lot of different resources!

    2. I too am teaching 4th grade (in Cali) this year and will be starting Daily 5 for the first time! I am nervous and excited hoping my kiddos will be able to work independently and efficiently so that I can get as much small group time in as kiddos are performing below grade level as well...I look forward to seeing your Sandwich Stories and hearing more about how you are implementing D5. Do you have any suggestions fo the first week of school and starting Daily 5?

    3. Hello- that first week just jump right in. We did an anchor chart on the first day of what silent reading is supposed to look like. I also told them about how my classroom library is organized. The next day I did I pick and they got to choose books to stick in their boxes. We started out at 3 minutes, they did it correctly do I then set the timer for 5, then 7, etc. The 3rd day we spoke about the face of a reader board (it tied into getting started lesson from OCR)- I have all my strategies up and we practiced more silent reading. The next day I explained my voices board during writing time and we brainstormed strategies that they remembered. Basically I started out with doing stuff during the time that my class does read to self - right after lunch. Then adding writing I did that during when we do writing - for us it's first thing in the morning right after morning work. I added read to someone the second week since we were working with our first story, so I pulled out the check marks. Listen to reading also happened the second week. I hope this helped.

  2. Emily,
    Thank you for this post! I have been trying to work out some organizational issues with the Daily 5 components and some of your ideas threw the lightbulb on for me. Thanks again for sharing!!
    P.S. I LOVE the way you have named/categorized your groups. Sweet!


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