Sunday, August 10, 2014

Back-to-School Blog Hop (Tips and Tricks)

I am so excited to join my PA blogger buddies in hosting Tips and Tools for Back-to-School. 

If you are anything like me, you're probably feeling just a little anxious that summer is ending and school is just around the corner.  It seems like August just ticks away so quickly.  To help you with your back to school preparations, we each have a tip to share and a tool for you to use when you return to your classroom.

Keep Things Simple (and Keep your Sanity)! 

 We've all been there...keeping and maintaining the dreaded (at least IMHO) classroom job chart. I'm busy with 3 kids of my own, and I have a life outside my classroom. So, I'm constantly refining my teaching methods and classroom decisions to make sure things are kept simple, yet very effective. And, simple my friend, does NOT include keeping and maintaining a classroom job chart. Instead, use a Kid of the Week!

Yes, the Kid of the Week is the answer!

Tear down those job charts because you will NEVER need one again! I've been using a Kid of the Week for the past 10 years, and I am NEVER going back to job charts. Here's how it works (so simple)!

The first week of school, I do all the jobs (Pledge Leader, Calendar Helper, Morning Message, Trash Collector, Line Leader, etc.). As I do each job, I tell the students everyone will get 2 chances to be Kid of the Week during the school year. I explain that it is a very big responsibility, that the Kid of Week helps me with EVERYTHING all week long! When the 2nd week of school rolls around, I assign the first Kid of the Week (I use number order-so the student who is assigned #1). The following week, the previous Kid of the Week becomes "Second in Command" (helping when needed-for example, walking with the current Kid of the Week to the office). The student who is assigned #2 becomes the next Kid of the Week. Each week, there will be a new Kid of the Week (and the previous Kid of the Week becomes "Second in Command".

Pretty soon, your students will catch on to the predictability of the order (and the jobs they will do). As the year progresses, you will notice the Kid of Week preparing the calendar for the next day and doing many of the jobs without reminders. It is so awesome to see the students take ownership of their jobs and their classroom. Students look SO forward to being Kid of the Week. 

See? Simple, yet very effective! 

All About Me & Show and Tell

My tool for you is a set of two Kid of the Week bonus projects. My students (and their families) absolutely LOVED these, and I did too (and they are great for building both oral/written language skills and listening skills)! These activities are also another great way to build community within your classroom. Every Monday (or beginning of week), I sent home the "All About Me" project with the Kid of the Week. In addition to the "All About Me" paper, I sent home a blank piece of construction paper for the scrapbook page mentioned in the parent letter (construction paper=FREE). I used to buy a variety of actual scrap paper until I ran out and forgot to get more. I then started to use construction paper because #1-it's free and #2-it's simple (and believe it or not, I got some of the most decorated pieces of construction paper returned with photos, decorations, etc.).
Once all students had an opportunity to be Kid of the Week (and complete their "All About Me" project), the project changed to "Show and Tell" (also included in the freebie below). Toward the end of the year, you may find you have to double up (i.e. assign two kids for Kid((s)) of the Week) to make sure all students had two opportunities to be Kid of the Week. 
Click on the image below to grab this product for FREE!

Thank you for stopping by my blog today! I hope that you enjoy the freebie.  If you would like to be the first to know about new posts, giveaways, and blog hops follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the image below.

 Don't stop reading here!  We have more tips and tools for you.  

Just follow the link below and visit my blogging buddy Catherine at ABC 123 is 4me!

Have fun hopping!

Graphics and fonts used in this post were courtesy of I'm Lovin' Lit, Melonheadz, and KG Fonts.  Check them out!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Daily 5 Online Book Club-Chapter 8-The Math Daily 3 Plus a Bonus Flash Freebie!

I'm back! I really, really enjoyed my summer! I took a break from blogging and TPT making to enjoy every minute with my 3 boys. 

The Math Daily 3 is the last chapter to discuss in this book club, so let's get on with it, shall we? 

If you are impatient and want to see the freebie now, look no further! 

** There is a great Flash Freebie perfect for Math Daily 3 in my TPT store. You can snag for a very limited time by clicking here: FLASH FREEBIE
Please leave only positive feedback or no feedback-it's free for crying out loud :)!

One great new feature about this edition of The Daily 5 is Chapter 8, "The Math Daily 3". Like Boushy and Moser, by using the 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence, I noticed they worked so well in areas outside of the literacy block. The steps worked well with teaching classroom routines, with learning how to use our science get the picture. I knew they could somehow be applied to math, but I was not sure how...until NOW! 

A few years ago, my district adopted the Everyday Math program. The first year we implemented it, we had to do basically everything. It was such a struggle!!! As a person who does not LOVE math (I like it, but am not in love with it like I am with literacy), I began to dread teaching it. I knew there had to be some way to make it a bit less "whole group" (or the "spray and pray" method as Boushey and Moser like to call it-LOVE this) and more small group/independent work with "math conferences" weaved in (sort of like reading workshop). 

A few years ago, I noticed information on thedailycafe site about Math Daily 5. I read it, thought about it, tried some of it, and with EDM, I put it on the back burner so to speak. Math Daily 5 evolved to become Math Daily 3, and it is described and discussed in great length in Chapter 8. 

Math Daily 3 is NOT used to teach specific content (your district/school mandates what it to be taught). This structure, however, provides your students with math tasks and activities that help them learn the math content they need to learn while you work with small groups and individuals, providing them with the practice or enrichment they need. 

The Math Daily 3 includes:

Math by Myself
Math Writing
Math with Someone 

The structure of Math Daily 3 is very similar to the structure of the Daily 5. When I started Math Daily 3 later in the year, it was so easy because my students already had the basic expectations and structure in their background knowledge from learning and participating in the Daily 5. I love the consistency of the structure for both! 

It is suggested that, in the primary grades, there should be 3-4 math focus lessons with 20-30 minutes of students independently working and the teacher leading small groups/conferencing. I only had one hour each day to teach math, so I had to tweak it so it would work best for my students and me. This is what I did, and it worked VERY well:

5 minutes whole group lesson-active review-EDM
10-15 minutes whole group lesson-EDM
20-30 minutes students working independently/I held small groups/math conferences
*My students used the EDM games for Math with Someone and Math by Myself. They also used the EDM games on the computer.
5 minutes-Math Daily 3 debriefing, lesson review

The best part of Math Daily 3 is you can easily incorporate what you already do into each of the 3 math dailies (as mentioned above). 

So, have you tried Math Daily 3? Did you have to tweak it like I did?  What are your thoughts? 

For Math with Writing, I used monthly Math Writing Prompt Menus (much like my Monthly Writing Prompt Menus I created and use for Independent Writing in the Daily 5). I am offering the set of Math Writing Prompt menus for FREE for a very limited time. They come with a blank set as well so you can make them how you would like. They are geared for first grade, but like I said, you can create your own set on the blank ones. Enjoy!

Thank you so much for participating in my book club! Whether you participated silently or replied, I hope you got something out of it that can help you in some way this school year. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Daily 5, Second Edition Online Book Club-Chapter 7 (Part 2)-Check-In and Beyond

I'm about ready to begin my 3rd week of summer vacation, and wow have we been busy. But, it's a great and friends kind of busy (not lesson planning busy). I'll take this kind of busy anytime! 

I'm contemplating what professional book to get and read next. I have a few ideas, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! 

O.k., back to is the 2nd part of Chapter 7. 

The topic of "checking-in" is once again discussed in this chapter, but there is a new spin put on it. Once students built stamina and independence, the purpose of a check-in changes. The purpose is no longer on behavior (but if needed, it can always be shifted back to that for a check-in or two). Instead, the purpose now focuses on what the students are going to do. Before beginning each round of Daily 5, students are gathered for a check-in. Before being released into their next round, each student must make a choice (as to what Daily he/she will go to) and be able to tell what he/she plans to work on at that Daily. Students' choices are recorded on a simple form. It is also at this time when I'll tell students who I will be meeting with (for guided reading or for reading conferences). Their default Daily is almost always Read to Self. 

As stated in the book, students do take making their choices and stating their goals/purpose very seriously. I take this one step further. At the end of each round of Daily 5, when students just sat down to gather, I have them do any one of the following:
*Turn to learning partner (elbow buddy, etc.), and tell that person what you did (what you are proud of).
*Turn to learning partner (elbow buddy, etc.), and share writing that was done during that round.
*I read writing, completed by students, to the class. We comment on it. Wow-does this hold them accountable!!!
*I tell students to hold writing up so I can see it. 
*I randomly pick a few names on popsicle sticks and ask those students specific ?s about what they did/what they worked on. Or, I'll tell those students to tell the class what they just did (what book they read, what reading strategy they worked on, etc.). 
I can't tell you how powerful check-in can be, and it only takes a few minutes. 

The remaining sections of this chapter give some additional reasons why Read to Someone, Listen to Reading and Word Work are powerful. Suggestions for each of these are also discussed. 

Read to Someone:
This particular Daily can get a bit noisy and be frustrating to some teachers. First, keep in mind the many benefits of this Daily. Some of these include increased fluency, motivation to read, the number of texts read and a non-threatening setting to practice reading skills/strategies. 

Here are some tips to make Read to Someone work for you and your students:
*Use the 10 Steps to Independence to introduce and teach your students how to Read to Someone
*Repeat the steps until you are sure your students have acquired independence and stamina. It is far easier to take the extra time to do this at the beginning of the year than to rush through the steps and find your students still don't know how to properly Read to Someone when you are well into the school year. Due to the fact that this Daily 5 choice takes a long time to get up and running, it is suggested that it should be introduced last.
*Limit the number of students who choose Read to Someone. You know your students. Some rounds, I allowed 6 students to choose. Some rounds, I only allowed 4 to choose (they were the louder ones). That worked very well. 

Listen to Reading:
Listen to Reading offers many of the same benefits as Read to Someone and Read to Self. Students are naturally motivated to use technology as long as it's developmentally appropriate and they know its specific purpose. 

*It may be necessary to assign a few of your "tech savvy" students a helper role for Listen to Reading. 
*If we all worked in classrooms where every student had his/her own iPad, wouldn't things be easier? We all know we don't all have that luxury (or at least I don't). So, you will need to get creative. Storia (ebooks by Scholastic) works well on netbooks/tablets. CD players (and, dare I say...tape players) also work! Various free websites work as well. Talk to your colleagues about what they use for listening. 

Word Work: 
Again, the benefits are plenty for Word Work. Some of the many benefits include practice with vocabulary and spelling for all students. This Daily 5 choice is so easy to differentiate for your students. I use the suggested list of materials and tie it into our Words Their Way instruction. Each of my three word study groups has a different word list (kept in one of 3 labeled containers). I noticed my students need more practice with their word sorts/lists and were not getting a ton of at-home practice, so that is why I decided to set my Word Work station up to focus on Words Their Way. It made a huge difference in students' acquisition of spelling skills.  If you are having difficulty thinking of what to include at this station, keep in mind these 2 simple things:
*What do your students need (in terms of word work practice)?
*How can you keep it simple (in terms of materials used), yet effective (think of targeted word lists used)?

I can't wait to tackle Math Daily 3 in my next post. This is my current work-in-progress. After reading about it during last school year, and doing some of my own research, I decided to implement this into my daily math block (instead of waiting until the next school year).  Upon implementation,  students made immediate connections because they already had The Daily 5 in their background knowledge and daily practice. Also, I saw motivation for math activities soar (something that was definitely lacking).  This was the main reason I bought this new edition of The Daily 5. So, check back soon for the post on Math Daily 3 (and my newest TPT product that is a tried and true winner for math).

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Daily 5, Second Edition, Chapter 7-When to Launch the Next Daily 5

Not like I have this big following or anything, but for those who are reading this, I am alive! Like every teacher, I got bogged down for a bit and had to prioritize. As much as I love to blog and interact with teachers/bloggers, I had to put this on the back burner ( 2 children in sports-OMG!). But anyway....let's continue with this, shall we?

Chapter 7 is titled "When to Launch the Next Daily 5", and it opens up with a quote by Thomas S. Monson. It reads, "Don't save something for a special occasion. Every day of your life is a special occasion."

That quote is so true, and it is applicable in everyday life (not only in teaching). In everyday life, I use the good dishes everyday (isn't dinner with the family a special occasion?), I wear my Sunday best (why not?) and we drink the "good" wine. Related to teaching, my most cherished books are put in my students' hands (why share books if students are not allowed to get their hands on them?),  and they are given my best teaching every day (not only on days when I'm getting observed). 

The greatest thing about implementing Daily 5 in your classroom, is that there are no hard and fast rules. While following Boushey and Moser's guidelines, you have the freedom to be flexible with this structure. After Read to Self is introduced, and students are demonstrating independence (keep track on a stamina chart-I use one I found on Smart Tech), you MAY feel your students are ready to tackle the next Daily. I say "MAY" because, again, you know your students. If they need more time, give it to them! 
Boushey and Moser suggest the following guidelines to help you understand if your students have built enough stamina or not:
*Intermediate students: 12-14 minutes
*Primary students: 10-12 minutes
*Kindergarten students: 7-8 minutes

-Again, these are just guidelines. We all know our classes are different from year to year. 

The next Daily 5 to be introduced, after Read to Self, is Work on Writing. It used to be Read to Someone (in the first edition), but the authors decided it is most important to get students practicing writing next. 

Work on Writing is separate from the Writing Workshop(WW) you may already have set up in your classroom. Unlike the traditional format of a mini-lesson (I do), shared practice (we do) and independent practice (you do)-with the added components of conferencing/small group work and lesson closure included in the traditional WW, Work on Writing provides students with additional time to practice those writing skills learned in WW, but in a more informal way. You can set up your writing station (that's what I call it) to focus on any number of writing types (friendly letters, personal narratives, fictional narratives, persuasive writing, poetry, all about, how-to or any other type of writing you are currently focusing on (or have focused on) in your WW.

Again, on the day Work on Writing is introduced, the I-chart and stamina chart for Read to Self are reviewed first. The students are told they will be learning another choice for Daily 5-Work on Writing. The purpose is set, and students tell partners why it's important to write every day (build a sense of urgency). An I-chart is created (with desirable behaviors-like on the Read to Self I-chart). Again, desirable/undesirable/desirable behaviors are practiced (as in Read to Self), building muscle memory. Then everyone practices (you may want to call them by group or some other way for a staggered start). 

Students check-in when time is up, the I-chart and stamina chart are reviewed. A quick discussion occurs about how it went (what went well, what did not). Read to Self is practiced again as well.

I suggest using a black and white marbled notebook for Work on Writing. It's not fancy, but it holds all your students' writing! I keep them on a bookshelf, and each of my 3 desk groups have their notebooks on one of three shelves (corresponding to their desk group). This worked the best for us. I also have a small table that holds monthly writing prompt menus (see goodies below). Displayed on the wall behind the table are monthly words (I bought mine here). Each student also has a first grade writing folder (simply a 3-pronged folder that holds word lists such as a name list, birthday word lists, monthly word lists, words related to various types of writing, first 100 Fry words, etc). They must always have their writing folders out and open when they write.

During check-in (now and throughout the year), the students who wrote bring their notebooks up with the group. They either share what they wrote with their writing partner or I read what they wrote to the class. I do this, not to be mean, but to keep things moving quickly. It's also a great way for me to make a quick, informal assessment of their writing! In addition, it holds students accountable for their writing during this time! 

Each day, Work on Writing and Read to Self are practiced until stamina is built. Then, along comes CHOICE!!! Baawaaahaaaa!!! Don't run and hide....come back and listen! To all of you elementary control freaks (that is 99.9% of us), you need to give up control of where you students go during Daily 5!!! That means NO MORE plan boards, spinners, menus, rotating charts, etc. I'm telling you, this is freeing!!! You love control, don't you??? Well, guess what, so do your students! 

Boushey and Moser discuss various research to back up choice. I'm not going to get all into that right now, but know, students are WAY more motivated when they get choice! Who cares what order they practice reading and writing in? If that goal is for students to spend more time reading and writing, and they are doing that, who are you to tell them where to go? Just keep track on a little chart (see freebie link below) and you are set. Now, you may want to nudge them here and there, "Johnny, you've been to listening 3 days in a row, try something else".  But, this always does the trick. And, "those" students, you know, the ones who are a bit "tricky"? Well, they thrive on choice! They love it! 
You can read all about how to introduce choice to your students in the book-this is getting l-o-n-g! 

This is getting really long, really quickly. So, next week, I will continue with the 2nd part of this chapter (Check-In and beyond). 
Here are a few goodies I rounded up for you...

Monthly Writing Prompt Menus-I use these each month in my writing station (for Work on Writing). There is also a blank set (one  menu for each month). These have been invaluable this year. If you ever have those students who sit and sit and don't write, these are for you! I created this set, so if you purchase them, let me know how you like them. 

Stamina Chart-I didn't make this one, but you can find it for free here: 

Check-In Chart-Again, I didn't make this one, but you can find it for free here:
 I use a variation of this editable check-in chart when my students make their Daily 5 choices. They always remember what they chose, and we do one round at a time (they don't choose 3 at once-they'd never remember). 

Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying your summer (if you are done till next year). Unfortunately, I have to teach this week yet. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Daily 5 Online Book Club, Chapter 6 (Foundation Lessons)

Chapter 6: Foundation Lessons-
Like all chapters in this book, Chapter 6 opens up with another great quote. It reads, "The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." -Socrates

Wow, this is so true in many areas of my life. I'm sure you can closely relate too. 

As mentioned in the previous chapter, foundation lessons are used in the first few days (and also whenever needed) of teaching Daily 5 activities. In those first few days, students' stamina is not yet built up, and routines are just beginning to be taught. You will have gaps of time that will eventually be filled with literacy routines (Daily 5). Before any Daily 5 activity is to be taught, there are a number of foundation lessons that need to be taught (these work very well to fill those gaps of time). All of the foundation lessons follow the Ten Steps to Independence (as discussed in earlier posts).

For each of the Daily 5 activities, there is a set of recommended foundation lessons (discussed in this chapter and also in the appendix. Chapter 5 shines a spotlight on one (or more) of each of the recommended foundation lessons for each of the five activities. 

Read-to-Self Foundation Lessons (more in Appendix B):
The foundation lesson for "Choose a Successful Spot" is highlighted in this chapter. In the beginning, the teacher chooses students' spots for Read-to-Self. But, since students need to learn how to do this for themselves, they need to be taught how. 

Make an anchor chart with students, writing their ideas for what needs to be considered when picking a spot to sit in. Once the chart is finished, stagger the start (instead of having all students find their place at the same time). Don't forget to ring your chimes at the end of the round.

Work-on-Writing Foundation Lessons (more in Appendix C)
The foundation lesson for "Setting Up a Notebook" and "Choosing What to Write About" are the ones discussed at length in this chapter. 

Setting Up a Notebook:
It is highly recommended (and I strongly agree) that plain old composition books or spiral notebooks are used for Work-on-Writing. The pages don't come out (especially with the comp books), they are cheap (or free if your district/school has them already) and sturdy. In the past, I've used all kinds of things (including a number of "cute" stationary), and all it causes is a headache! Now, from time to time, adding some seasonal stationary is o.k. (IMHO). 

Choose What to Write About:
How many times have your students written about the same thing (mommy, daddy, who they are friends with, how everything is "nice" or "good"). Or, on the other hand, how many times have your students just sat there, wasting time, as they tried to think of something to write about? 

Boushey and Moser suggest teaching students how to write down ideas for their writing (right in their notebooks). I use monthly "writing prompt menus". These are introduced to the students at the beginning of the year (and they learn how to use them). Then, at the beginning of each month, new ones are introduced/read. My first graders use these daily, and they have been very successful. They really enjoy sharing what they wrote at our check-ins. You can find them right here
(FREE just until Tuesday). Please DON'T say you got these for free in my comments. That will get other customers upset. 

Read-to-Someone Foundation Lessons (more in Appendix D):
EEKK: This means "elbow, elbow, knee, knee". This lesson teaches students how they are expected to sit when reading with someone. I have found it does need to be repeated every few weeks.

Voice Level: According to Michael Grinder, the loudest voice in the room sets the noise level for the entire class (as written on page 93). Model a quiet, calm voice. Your students will do the same. They do need to be taught what type of voices are expected during this time. I limit the number of pairs who are reading-to-someone to 2 or 3 (depending on the students). That has helped with noise level.

Check for Understanding:
This skill is introduced on the first day of school, through read alouds, and it is reviewed throughout the year. Students need to be explicitly taught how to listen to their partner, how to read to a partner and how to check for understanding. As suggested in this chapter, I made check marks for my students. I made these oversized checkmarks out of red craft foam. On them, I wrote "Who?" and "What?" with a black sharpie. This serves as a reminder for how to check for understanding. 

How Partners Read:
Students have a number of choices when reading to someone. 
Same Book:
*I Read, You Read
*Choral Read
Different Books:
*I Read, You Read

How to Get Started:
Can you believe young children (or any age children for that matter) have to be taught how to get along, what to read and how to decide who gets to read first? 
Students need to be taught the following:
*Good manners (how to ask a partner to read)
*Let's Make a Deal (settling on what book to read first by making a deal)
*Rock, Paper, Scissors (winner gets to choose what book gets red first, who reads first, how book is read)
*Youngest First (youngest goes first, decides what it to be read/how it is to be read)
*ABC Order: Whose name begins with the letter closest to "A"? That person calls the shots. 

Coaching or Time?
Students need to be taught what to do if their partner gets stuck on a word (or words). This lesson is explained in detail on pages 97-98. I found helpful bookmarks (for FREE) here: Bookmarks

How to Choose a Partner:
During the first few days, the teacher chooses partnerships, but eventually (like with everything) students need to be able to do this independently. So, they need to be taught how to choose a partner. This is discussed at great length on pages 98-100. I've found this procedure to be highly effective. When my students do not have a partner, they simply read to themselves until a partner becomes available. I found it helpful to remind students who chose Read-to-Someone before each round begins. That way, if a student who did choose RS is busy with something, other students who also chose RS knows this and can read-to-self until that student become available.

Listen-to-Reading Foundation Lessons (more in Appendix E):
Set Up and Clean Up the Technology:
I teach my students how to set up our notebook computers (we have 4) in the morning. Then, when they are assigned the "Student of the Week", this is part of their responsibilities. They simply unplug each from their chargers, place them on our small table, open them up, turn them on, and find the website to be used. I LOVE Storia ebooks by Scholastic!
In any case, students need to be taught how to set up and clean up whatever technology you choose to use for this Listening.

Other foundation lessons include "Listen and Follow Along" and "Manage Fairness and Equitable Use" (see pages 101-102).

Word-Work Foundation Lessons (see Appendix F for more info):
Again, students need to be taught your expectations for set up and clean up of materials used. They also need to be taught what materials are available, their intended use and the words to be used (whether you want them to use sight words or spelling words, a specifically assigned list, etc.). They also need to be taught how to choose materials wisely and how to choose a successful spot to work in.

Wow! That was a lot of info, but I hope I jazzed it up a little with that those freebies (bookmark and writing prompt menu). The bookmark wasn't made by me, but I think it's useful. 

I don't have a link-up option this week, but feel free to leave a comment! I'd love to hear about any foundation lessons you think should be added, or how Daily 5 is working for you. If you have any ?'s, please ask!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Daily Five, Second Edition Online Book Club (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self (and Some Foundation Lessons) and a Stitch Fix Review

Before jumping into this week's chapter of The Daily 5, I have to do a quick review of my second Stitch Fix box. If you are not familiar with Stitch Fix, you need to be. In a nutshell, this is how it works:
*It's $20 per month. This fee pays for a stylist to be assigned to you and pick out 5 items (clothes, jewelry, accessories) that you may like. No shoes! 
*You fill out a personal style profile that is quite detailed. You get to comment on clothing collections and add your own comments about what you like too. You can even link your stylist to your Pinterest board if you've posted clothes you like (or even a few pics of yourself). You also pick the price range you'd like for each clothing category.
*A box arrives at your doorstep with the items, style cards (with ideas for how to style each item) and a personal typed note from your stylist. 

*You take the 5 items out, and you get to try them on in your own home (hello, no shopping with kids!).
*Decide what to keep and what to send back. If you keep all 5 items, you get a 25% discount. Even if you keep one item, your $20 stylist fee is applied toward that item (also applied if you keep all 5). 
*Whatever you don't want, you pack into a pre-paid bag and send it back (postmarked within 3 business days).

I HATE going shopping. I always end up with something striped or 5 of the exact same thing (only in different I guess not exact). You get the idea. Add 3 children (all little boys) in the mix, and you get a shopping trip from hell! Anyway, this service was sent from above. I LOVE it!!! The items I received this month are awesome. I kept all 5!!! So, what did I get this time?
*A gray and white fit & flare dress: Not my favorite, but it was cheaper to keep this because of the discount. 
*Jean Jacket: I didn't think I needed another jean jacket until I saw this one (and tried it on). I LOVE it! It will look great with summer dresses and other things I have.
*Plaid tab-top shirt. Upon seeing it, I thought it was too "fall-ish", but then I tried it on. This is a perfect example of why this service is for me. I would've never picked this out in the store, yet I love it. I wore it with wedges, capris and a tan jacket over it. I "springed" it up a little.
*Blue and white pocket tank: I love this too. I can dress it up or down. Perfect. Again, I would have never picked it off the rack at a store. 
*Navy skinny jeans (easily rolled up into capris). I have never had a pair of jeans fit so comfortably. I've worn them 3 times since I got  the box last Wed!!!!

If you are interested, check out Stitch Fix by clicking on the highlighted link. It is my referral link. If you subscribe, I will get  $25 credit toward my next "fix". 

Now, Onto The Daily 5...

This week, the Daily 5 will begin with Read to Self. The past few weeks built the foundation for this moment. Boushey and Moser suggest beginning with Read to Self because it is simple to teach, practice and implement. It is also the most powerful way for children to grow into independent readers. 

I believe the most important thing to remember is to start slow when beginning so you can move faster later on in the school year. Following the gradual release of responsibility model, and the 10 Steps to Independence (as discussed thoroughly in the post on Chapter 3), your students will become independent readers and learners. It may seem, at times, that the pace is slow, but you must go slow at this critical time (when students are learning and practicing routines that will lead to independence). Too often, I've moved my students way too quickly through learning these routines, only to kick myself later in the year when I was still putting out fires! 

The First Day:
It is suggested, before beginning the school year, to invite all families to come into the classroom (with their children) in order for the children to become comfortable and familiar with it. Where I work, we don't do that. Instead, parents and children visit when we teachers are not in the rooms (they can peek inside). So, I begin everything with students on the first day. 

From my experience with, and knowledge of the Daily 5, this is what I do...
On the first day of school, as children arrive (without parents), I greet each child at the door. I take their book bags, look through them, take out all school supplies and place them in a large plastic bag labeled with that student's number (I'll sort through them later). I then show each child his/her desk (in part of a larger desk group). Children read from a large book bin with about 25 assorted books in the middle of their desk groups. They do this until all students have arrived and it's time to start the day. The book boxes remain in the middle of the desk groups throughout the day so there is always something for students to do (and so they can begin to see how important reading is). 

Three Ways to Read a Book:
When all students have arrived, they are gathered in the meeting area for morning routines/morning meeting. After that, I do a short read aloud. After we get our wiggles out with a short brain break, we sit back down for our first anchor lesson, "Three Ways to Read a Book". This lesson is so helpful because even your most reluctant readers (or those who are ELLs) will be able to participate in Read to Self (and feel confident while doing it).

The three ways to read a book are as follows: 
*Read the pictures.
*Read the words.
*Retell the story. 

During this first lesson, the first two are taught/demonstrated/discussed. Retelling can be saved for later in the day or the next day (so children are not sitting for too long....remember the brain research discussed earlier in the book study?).

After this first lesson, fill each child's individual book box or bag with about 5-6 books (they will learn how to choose their books later). 

At Last-We Launch Read to Self:
The suggested outline for how to teach Read to Self is found in the appendix. It is also suggested that younger children complete one round, and older children may be able to complete two rounds of practice. Make sure the 10 Steps to Independence are followed! Also, record stamina on a graph.

Integrating Foundations Lessons:
Once children learn Read to Self through the Ten Steps to Independence, aside from the small amount of practice they will do, there will be an abundance of time during your literacy block. It is during this time when foundational lessons will be taught that will enhance Read to Self and that must be taught before the other Daily 5 choices are introduced. The Read-to-Self foundation lessons are:
*Three Ways to Read a Book (as discussed above)
*I PICK Good-Fit Books
*Choose a Successful Spot (more about this in Chapter 6).

I PICK Good-Fit Books:
With SO much research out there (both old and new), there is no doubt that students will benefit from reading books that are "just right" for them. In addition, when students read "just right" books, they are more engaged, more motivated/less frustrated, they have choice/control and negative behaviors are minimized. 

Students need to learn HOW to choose "just right" books (instead of just picking books from a leveled tub). It is suggested, that for this anchor lesson, the teacher should bring in a variety of shoes (in a bag). A chart (with the suggested wording for "I PICK" is also necessary-see page 74) will be referred to all year long. 

The teacher is to take the shoes out one at a time (refer to the first line of the chart). The "purpose" of each shoe and the importance of wearing the correct shoe is also discussed. This is easily connected to how students choose books (if you want to learn about dogs, choose a dog book-not a book about cars). Each book selected must match the reader's purpose. 

"Interest" is then discussed. Discuss how shoes match our interests. There are no ballet shoes in the bag because I'm not interested in ballet. It doesn't match my interests. Students need to think about their interests when choosing books.

Here is also when shoe size is discussed. The teacher pulls out a tiny shoe and tries to put it on (obviously, not able to fit). Then he/she pulls out a large shoe that, again, does not fit. Relate this to books that are not a "good fit"-hard to understand/trip readers up. 

Comprehend ("C") is then introduced with "know the words" ("K"). Boushey and Moser suggested 99% accuracy would be a "good fit". So, they said their old "five finger test" will not work anymore. Instead, if a child can pick up a book and read almost every word, then it is a "good fit". If not, it may be too hard. 

Comprehension is demonstrated as the teacher reads a physics text book (or something else above his/her level). Demonstrate, that even though most words are read correctly, the reader cannot understand it. Students need to be able to comprehend what they read. 

After this anchor lesson, students are given time and support in choosing their own books for their reading boxes. It is highly suggested that an organized classroom library (that has been introduced to students) is in place. This is where book selection (or "shopping" as I call it) will take place. Throughout the year, invite 1-2 students a day to take out the contents of their boxes/bags and explain their selections to the class. This is powerful! Also, at the start of a reading conference, review each child's book selections with him/her. You will learn a lot from your students' selections! 

How can you make sure your students have time to "shop" for books? Here are some ideas: 
-Assign students shopping time during morning work (a few each day).
-Make it a choice once a week (or more) for Read-to-Self.
-While waiting for dismissal, students may shop (a few each day).

Adding the Other Foundation Lessons:
In the afternoon (on the first day of school) or during the first week of  school, you need to teach other foundation lessons. These lessons will lay the groundwork for the other Daily 5 choices. It is suggested that Work-on-Writing Foundation lessons be the next ones that are taught. The include the following:
*Underline Words You Don't Know How to Spell, and Move On
*Set Up a Notebook
*Choose What to Write About
On the first day, you may only get to one of these, and that's o.k. 

The next foundation lesson to consider is one from Read-to-Someone. These foundation lessons include:
*Check for Understanding
*EEKK (elbow, elbow, knee, knee)
*Voice Level
*How Partners Read
*How to Get Started
*Coaching or Time?
*How to Choose a Partner

Some other suggested foundation lessons include:
*Set Up the Technology
*Listen and Follow Along
*Manage Fair and Equitable Use with a Limited Number of Devices

*Set Up and Clean Up Materials
*Choose Materials to Use
*Choose a Successful Spot

Again, some of these (especially the set up and clean up of materials) need to be taught on the first (or second day) of school so time does not have to be spent when it's time to teach about Word-Work. Boushey and Moser include a list of suggested Work-Work materials on page 85, and they are all FREE or very cheap! 

The next chapter, Chapter 6, will go into more detail about more foundation lessons. The ones mentioned in this post should be taught one the first day if possible. If not, then they should be taught on the second day. 

If you comment or link-up, let me know your experiences with Read to Self.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Daily 5 (Second Edition) Online Book Club-Chapter 4

As I sit here planning and typing this post, I'm thinking about the upcoming week. My first graders will take a short section of the Terra Nova tests on Monday-Thursday. This is the first time I ever administered a standardized test like this to young children. Trying to keep the mood light and relaxed, we arranged desks in rows on Friday (like I used to sit in when I was in first grade), and we practiced our "bubbling" skills. If any of you have given similar tests to your youngsters, do you have any advice? I know it's late, but any advice would be helpful.

Also, I am super excited that my second "Fix" from is on its way. This is an online subscription service that assigns you a stylist who picks out and sends you clothes/accessories. I will post more about it this week, after receiving my 2nd "fix". My first one was a dud (I kept only one item). It's my own fault for typing that I love stripes. Pretty much everything I got was striped!!! 

I hear that, as long as feedback is given by the customer, the fixes keep getting better and better (as the assigned stylist gets to know the customer's tastes). Hey, anything beats going shopping with little ones or sneaking out on my own when I can find the time just to buy things I won't wear or already have...ahem, stripes. I'd also much rather do other things than go shopping! So, to have someone do this for me seems like a pretty good plan! I'm looking forward to getting out of my stripe style rut.

O.k., on to our book club! This week, I'm covering chapter 4:
"What Do You Need to Begin the Daily 5?"

Like all previous chapters, this chapter also begins with a quote by the late Steve Jobs. It reads:
"Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well-worn path." 
Wow, that quote hits home. I don't always do things like I'm "supposed to", but there is always a purpose (and great research to back it up) to explain why I do things the way I do.

The list of things you need to begin the Daily 5 is short and sweet, and so is this chapter. That's a good thing since I am in the middle of doing yard work and spring cleaning! 

#1-Chimes-The Quiet Signal:
There are quite a few transitions during the Daily 5/literacy block. In order to get your students' attention, you need to establish a signal to let them know it is time to stop working, clean up and gather for a check-in/mini-lesson. 

You can use what you would like, but Boushy and Moser suggest the use of chimes. In this section, they discuss Grinder's suggestion of "Above, Pause, Whisper" to make sure all students respond to the signal. In addition, like every routine/procedure you teach, be sure to use the "10 Steps to Independence" as discussed in last week's post. 

I do not use chimes, instead I used a check-in procedure from Whole Brain Teaching. I say, "Check-in". My students then repeat me 3 times and begin cleaning up and gathering to check-in.

#2-Chart Rack or Interactive Whiteboard:
Used for the creation of permanent "I-Charts" that will displayed and referred to often, a chart rack would be the best thing to use to make them. You could use an interactive whiteboard, but the charts won't be permanent (you'll just have to store them on your desktop and refer to them often after they are created).

#3-Tools, Not Toys:
It is suggested that some "tools" are gathered and put into a box or bin to support the "barometer" children who have a hard time building stamina. Some ideas (recommend in the book or by me) include sand timers, a Magna Doodle, I Spy Books, small blocks, puzzle books (I Spy), other manipulatives. It is also suggested to tape off areas of the room (or use carpet squares) to clearly mark work spaces for students who may have difficulty staying in one spot/finding a spot to work.

#4-Book Boxes:
In order for students to be expected to read independently, they need to have easy access to books in a box or bag (instead of choosing books from the class library each day). 

At the beginning of the year, it is suggested that the teacher selects 5-6 books for each students' reading box or bag. After teaching students how to choose "just right" books, how to use the classroom library and learning what types of books your students are interested in, the students can then "shop" for their own books. 

Suggestions from Jim Trelease, Richard Allington and Patricia Cunningham say that primary classrooms should have between 700-750 titles (upper grades-about 400). Also, studies have been shown that children who are in classrooms with large classroom libraries outperform students who are in classrooms with few books or no library. 

#5-A Gathering Place and Focus Lessons:
You will need a large space where students can gather for check-ins and mini-lessons. In this space, you will need a chart rack, whiteboard or an interactive whiteboard. This is where anchor charts (I-charts) will be created.

Boushey and Moser discuss the benefits of having students (regardless of grade level) gather in a large, open space. These include better behavior management due to close proximity, opportunities to "turn and talk" to partners and fewer distractions (as students are not playing with things in their desks). 

I couldn't agree with this more! In my first grade classroom, we gather many, many times throughout the day. When students are at their desks (as they are at times throughout our math lessons), it is SO difficult to make sure they are all paying attention to me (not things in their desks or each other). :)

As discussed in previous chapters, the I-Charts created then become a permanent anchor chart to display (and refer to) in the classroom. 

#7-Classroom Design:
Your classroom should offer a comfortable setting for your students to learn. Some alternative seating ideas include using soft chairs/beanbags, low tables, couches and seats spaced around the classroom.

In my own classroom, during the Daily 5, I allow students to sit on a bench, a couch, a rocking chair or on the floor. Of course, they may choose to sit at their desks as well. 

Questions to Think About:

1. Are you surprised that you don't need anything fancy to begin the Daily 5?

2. Are there any other things you would suggest to use while beginning the Daily 5?

3. What alternative seating do you offer your students?

4. How else do you make your room cozy and inviting?

Thanks for joining this online book club!!! Please leave a comment below or link up your responses from your own blog. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Daily 5, Second Edition Book Club-Chapter 3

Chapter 3-"The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence"

Thanks to all of you who are participating in this online book club! Whether you sent me a private message, liked the post on Facebook,  talked with me at work or are silently joining along, I thank you! 

Chapter 3 discussed the "10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence", and these steps are the foundation for anything you want your students to learn how to do independently.  

Chapter 3 opens up with a quote by Kathy Collins. It says, "When we follow these routines day after day, our students can use their energy to grow as readers and learners rather than to figure out what we expect them to do. And we, in turn, can focus our energy on teaching, not managing, our independent readers."

Wow! That quote is powerful. It sums up everything I've COME to believe along the years (through lots of trial and loads of error). 

Like Boushey and Moser, early in their teaching careers, I used to think if I show my students how to do something once, they should be independent. I can't tell you how many times, I became so frustrated thinking, "They should know this!" or "Why can't they just do one simple task?" 

Boushey and Moser explain the work of Michael Grinder. Grinder's work supports the idea that students need to have information delivered to them through various memory systems (visual, auditory and kinesthetic). When information is received through more than one of these systems, memory is improved. 

Boushey and Moser took Grinder's information, and they thought about the tasks they wanted their students to be able to do independently. Then, they did something most special educators are very familiar with, they performed a "task analysis" of each task (meaning, they worked backward from the expected behavior and broke that behavior into tiny sequenced steps that need to be taught before independence is to be expected/occur). Their task analysis includes a set of ten steps to "Teaching and Learning Independence", and these steps are what sets Daily 5 apart from other management systems.

Each of the ten steps is discussed below:

Step 1: Identify What Is to Be Taught-
Very simple, yet extremely powerful...tell your students exactly what you are going to teach. This will keep both you and your student focused. When you begin your launching lessons for Daily 5, a simple pattern is used (as suggested by Boushey and Moser). This pattern involves creating an "I-chart" (kind of like a T-chart, but "I" for "Independence"). This can be made on any surface, but it is an anchor chart (one that will be referenced throughout the year), so choose wisely (a piece of chart paper is what I prefer). The name of the Daily 5 choice to be taught is written on the top of the chart. A line is drawn across and down the chart to separate "students" and "teacher". You can make this as colorful as you want. I just use two different colors, nothing fancy! Before you look at the example below, just use it to see how to write the title and how to make the lines. You'll see (in Step #3), the list of desired behaviors is changed.
Here is one example I found:
*image found on, courtesy of

I usually have my chart paper on a large easel. As we finish an "I-Chart", I rip it off and tape it to a classroom wall where everyone can see it and it can be referred to often. 
What about other other "stuff" on the chart? Don't worry, keep reading!

Step 2: Set a Purpose and Create a Sense of Urgency-
"What's in it for me?"...That's the question most of us ask before beginning any task, isn't it? Boushey and Moser hit the nail right on the head! It's very important for people to know WHY they do things, and the same holds true for those little people we teach. They need to know why they do what they do and why what they do is important as well!  

To create a sense of "urgency", Moser and Boushey suggest writing the reasons why each of the Daily 5 activities are done. These reasons are written at the top of the chart, under the title. Students are gathered in a whole group, and they are involved in the creation of each "I-Chart", so a sense of urgency can be created an so they take ownership of it. There are many "pretty"/"cute" pre-made "I-Charts" out there, but these are meant to be created WITH your students. 

Step 3: Record Desired Behaviors on an I-Chart-
A change in this edition of the book, Moser and Boushey no longer suggest asking your students to brainstorm a list of desirable behaviors for each Daily 5 activity (for each I-Chart). As a result of having students brainstorm and make suggestions, their "launching" lessons were becoming longer and longer (something that brain research says is a "no no"). Therefore, they now list 5 desirable behaviors (listed on page 38) on the I-Chart in front of the students, and each one is explained. These behaviors are written so that students see what to do (instead of what "not" to do). 

If you work with younger students, you may want to break this lesson up into two days so they are most engaged. If you teach older students, they should be able to finish the chart in one session. You know your students, so use your knowledge of them them to guide what you do.

Step #4: Model Most-Desirable Behaviors-
This is where the fun begins! Desired behaviors are modeled by students, and this allows students to see, hear and feel what these behaviors. Have individual students model what these behaviors look like. When the modeling is complete, engage all students in a discussion on what they saw the student doing. Go through each of the desired behaviors to guide your discussion. Finish up with asking students if the particular student who did the modeling will become a better reader (or writer) if he/she continues to do those things during that Daily 5 choice. You will always hear a cheerful, "Yes!".

Step #5: Model Least-Desirable Behaviors, Then Most-Desirable Behaviors Again-
The fun continues...
The next step is asking a student to model the "incorrect" way to model those behaviors. A suggestion made by Boushey and Moser is to invite a student to do this who may be one who may have difficulty exhibiting the desired behaviors. Of course, that student will think it's fun, but it allows for the shaping of his/her behaviors.

As the student is surely making everyone laugh, while exhibiting undesired behaviors, call students attention to the I-Chart. Go through each of the listed desired behaviors and ask if that student is doing the right thing. Students love this part, and they are so engaged. 

When that modeling is done, students are reminded that those behaviors will never lead to someone becoming a better reader and writer. Following this discussion, that same student is asked to now model the desirable behaviors. As this modeling is taking place, the list of desired behaviors (listed on the I-Chart) is once again referenced. After that, students are asked (once again), if they will become better readers and writers if they do what they are supposed to (the desired behaviors).

This may seem redundant, and a time waster, but believe me, it is extremely important to take the time and do this slowly and correctly when you have the freedom of time at the beginning of the year. If any of these steps are rushed, you will kick yourself later!!! Believe me, I've been there (more times than I am willing to admit)!

Step #6-Place Students Around the Room-
It is during this step when students learn how to pick "smart" spots to independently work around the room. When choosing where to sit, students need to ask themselves, "Is this a place where I can be most successful?" 

The use of book boxes is suggested while practicing because this will limit the amount of movement in your room (as students have their books right next to them). Those students who have short stamina, make sure they are the last ones to choose a spot since they will be working for the shortest amount of time. Those students who have built their stamina (or are more mature) should be the first students called to find their smart spots. 

Since "Read to Self" is the first Daily 5 choice taught and practiced, you want to make sure you have either boxes (as suggested above) or bags of books ready to go ahead of time. I spend my first week of school introducing their book boxes, and I fill them up myself until they've been taught how to choose "just-right" books. 

Step #7:Practice and Build Stamina and Step #8: Stay Out of the Way-
It is important to note that all students are different, and therefore will build stamina at difference paces. A stamina chart is shown on page 46 to keep track of your students' stamina. I found one on Smart Exchange that I use to keep track of my students' stamina. It is motivating for students to see how their stamina grows. 

When every student begins practicing, stay out of they way (as suggested above). Stamina has waned when someone stops displaying the desirable behaviors (as listed on the chart). It will be hard to stay out of their way, but you have to. You want you students to learn how to work independently so you can successfully meet with small groups and individuals, don't you? 

I sit at the reading table during their practice, and I totally ignore any raised hands. I don't call any students or groups during the launching phase because all students need to learn these routines that lead to independence. 

My students know that unless they are sick, bleeding or having to use the bathroom (and we use sign language for that), they cannot bother me. It may sound harsh to an outsider, but when it comes down to it, I ask myself what I want the students to do. I want them to become independent so I can work with a student or students.

Step #9: Use a Quiet Signal to Bring Students Back to the Gathering Place-
Stamina will break down rather quickly at the beginning of the year, especially with younger students. You'll know when this happens because students will get "antsy" and when you observe "undesirable" behaviors. When this happens, use a quiet signal (that has been introduced and taught first) to call the students back to the gathering place for a check-in. This will take more time to do at the beginning of the year because students are learning these routines. 

Some quiet signal suggestions include a train whistle, chimes, a bell, a wand or anything else you can find (more discussion on this later in the book).

Step #10: Conduct a Group Check-In; Ask, "How Did It Go?"
Reference the I-Chart when students are gathered for a check-in. As students look at the list of desired behaviors for that Daily 5 choice, they self-reflect and "grade" themselves based on how they did during the round of practice. You school may already use a uniform grading system that you can easily implement with this check-in, or you can use a "thumbs-up" or "thumb to the side" method. Review each desired behavior, and students rate/grade themselves. 

You may want to ask your students to create a goal for themselves for the next round (or it may even be a class goal). How you do this is up to you.  

After the check-in, decide if your students have the stamina to practice for another round. On a typical day (in the beginning), 3-4 practice sessions occur. These can occur throughout the day, not just during the literacy block. This is, of course, determined by you and your students' stamina. 

My Final Thoughts:
I've found that these 10 Steps that lead to independence can (and should) be used anytime you want your students to become independent at something. I changed up my math stations this year, and at first, I just assumed they would know how to be independent because they've been doing the Daily 5 for so many months. Um....big mistake!!!! After some reflecting, I realized that I "assumed" they would be independent during math stations, but I never actually went through these 10 Steps. Needless to say, I learned my lesson (yet again), and my students are now working independently during math station time. 

Be sure to comment (and/or link up if you have a blog) to let me know what you think of the Ten Steps, or how you use them in your classroom! If linking up, please use the two images from the top of this post.