Monday, March 24, 2014

The Daily 5, Second Edition Book Club, Chapter 2

Thanks to all of you who have read the previous week's post! I've had some great conversations with colleagues. Wendy (from Read With Me ABC) and Gwen (from Learning with Mrs. Brinnlinked up great posts as well. I am thrilled to continue this online book club, meet new people, gain new perspectives and continue on my journey of Daily 5 learning and implementation! So, here we go into Week #2!

Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5

In this chapter, six of the seven core beliefs are discussed (the seventh is discussed in Chapter 3). These core beliefs are the foundation for The Daily 5. Below is a summary of these first six core beliefs.

Trust and Respect:
Do you respect and trust your students? Think about it? Do you really respect and trust ALL of your students? What about "those" students? You know, the ones whose actions (or inactions) make you want to pull your hair out? What do you do with them? Do you respect and trust them?

According to Boushey and Moser, the Daily 5 works when we trust ALL of our students. This does not mean we just walk into our classrooms and all of a sudden have trust in all students. What this means, however, is that trust can be built as a result of explicitly teaching and practicing expected behaviors that are gradually developed and self-monitored by students over time (how to do this is discussed at great length in Chapter 3).

We also have to know that, although we may have taught students  (and practiced) how to be independent learners, there will always be a few who do not have the stamina to sustain independence. It is up to us to continue to work with these students in order to help them build their stamina that ultimately leads to independence. It is our responsibility to not give up on students who are not as independent as others. These students should not be thought of as mischievous. Instead, they just need more practice, support and time to become more independent. Sometimes, we have to take it day by day, giving more support to some students than others. Instead of giving up when you "think" some of your students will never get to the level of independence you'd like, take a step back and reflect. What type of support do they need? What can you do to help these students achieve a greater level of independence?

Sometimes, it's as easy as privately checking in with them to see what their plan is for Daily 5. Or, you can bring those few children back with you for an early check-in. But, what you can't do (if you want the Daily 5 to be successful in your classroom) is give up on these children. All children deserve your best! 


It's never too late to start turning your classroom into a community of learners. I know my colleagues and I spend a great deal of time, at the beginning of the year, building a true learning community. Throughout the year, we use daily "proactive" circle meetings (as part of Restorative Practices that we are all a part of) to build and maintain community. When you have a strong classroom community, students begin to self-monitor themselves as well as help to maintain community among others. When Daily 5 check-ins, Read-to-Someone and other work among students during other Daily 5s occur, this helps to maintain and grow a healthy classroom community of learners. It's not unlikely to hear a more advance reader asking a less advanced reader if he/she would like "Coaching or Time?". It's also not unlikely to hear writers complimenting and helping each other. I smile every time I look around the room and see these little miracles taking place. 

There is a lot of current research that says choice is motivating and beneficial to students. This, after all, is the cornerstone of Daily 5, according to Boushey and Moser. Choice is not something that is just given to students. They have to earn it, after much instruction and practice. On page 26, Boushey and Moser illustrate their "Learning Line". This shows their progression of their literacy block development throughout the years. They've gone from having their students do seat work, centers, workshops and finally Daily 5. Their trust, choice and respect of their students has increased as they've moved through this progression. 

I know what you are thinking..."I'm not ready to give up control". This was the hardest core belief for me to embrace!!! For years, I said I was "doing the Daily 5", only to design and use elaborate planning boards where I displayed the students choices. I felt that, as long as they were going to a variety of Daily 5 activities, they would be happy (and things would be orderly). I had such a hard time giving up control of where they went/what they did. I always thought things would get out of control, and I am a little OCD find comfort in control. I think we all do. When I took the Daily 5/CAFE grad class last year, one of our assignments was to give up control. So I did, and you know what??? I never looked back, AND my students and I are still alive! My students LOVE getting a choice of what Daily 5 to do. Even though they have to do Read to Self and Writing each day, they still get to choose the order in which they do them. And, they also get to choose that third Daily 5. My best advice to you is to just.....LET GO and GIVE YOUR STUDENTS A CHOICE!!!
Just more keeping up with planning boards!!! That, alone, is motivation!

No, this does not mean giving your students a "learning center" contract. This also does not mean checking off the activities your students complete throughout the week. This does mean, however, that both you and your students need to be held accountable for what goes on during The Daily 5. We, as teachers, are accountable to explicitly teach our students exactly what we want them to do during this time (all 5 Daily activities). This means, we need to teach them what each looks like, sounds like and feels like to do each of these five tasks.  It is also our responsibility to hold brief meetings with students when we notice a break-down in independence or routines. During these meetings, problems are addressed and expectations reviewed and practiced. Sometimes this is done with a student, a small group or the whole class.

Students are held accountable for choosing where they sit during each of the Daily 5 activities, the level of noise that occurs, selecting meaningful writing topics and just-right books to read and sustaining engagement in each activity.

Brain Research:
According to what various researchers in the field of brain research has found, the time a child will pay attention to direct instruction is related to that child's chronological age. So, if I do the math correctly, a typical first grader can pay attention for an average of 6-7 minutes. WHOA!

Upon first hearing this information, Boushey and Moser did not buy it. They, like most of us, took pride in their teaching. They couldn't understand how some researcher could say how long their students could pay attention, especially a researcher who didn't even know them (or how engaging their lessons were). Well, they decided to prove the research wrong. Boushey and Moser decided to video record their whole group literacy lessons each day. As they reviewed the recordings, they were very much focused on the content of their lessons/reflections on their teachings. 

When they decided to turn on the volume to focus more on the children, they found that, after about 7-8 minutes (they taught 4th grade), they were beginning to observe several students exhibiting off-task behaviors. They were believers from that moment on!

During a conference where Regie Routman spoke, Boushey and Moser learned about the 80/20 concept. In the past, it was common for direct instruction to take up about 80% of the time, with student practice taking up the other 20%. But, in an effort to be more effective, Routman suggests switching to 20% direct instruction and 80% student practice with the concepts taught. 

I laughed when I read about the "spray and pray" method of teaching. That is when you "spray" students with a lesson because the teacher manual tells you to. Then, you "pray" that it sinks in. Oh my, have I been there! 

Also discussed under this core belief, is the importance of practice. As I discussed in the previous chapter, if you want to get better at anything, you need to practice. The same holds true with reading and writing. Students need lots of time to practice, with timely/focused "coaching" on what they need. 

In Figure 2.2, on page 31, there is a very graphic explanation that shows how time spent reading increases students achievement. We need to take this knowledge and apply it to our classrooms/teaching. We must increase our students' reading time (with "just-right" books) each day, while keeping our focus lessons brief.

Transitions as Brain and Body Breaks:
Prior to developing and using the Daily 5/CAFE model for literacy instruction, Moser and Boushey used a workshop model (like many of us currently use). However, they did notice, that after an extended length of work time, their students needed a change of pace. Their students would get up to get drinks, ask to use the bathroom, etc. After reflecting on this, they realized that if they broke up the long work sessions into shorter sessions with movement and short lessons in between, that would provide students with the movement they needed.

The Daily 5 is made up of 2-5 different workshops in a day. Each workshop is called a "round", and it runs for the amount of time students have stamina in order to work independently. The length of time for each round varies, according to students' stamina. At the beginning of the school year (and with younger students), until stamina is lengthened, there may be 5 rounds in a literacy block. With older students, or once stamina is lengthened, there may only be 2 rounds (but they are longer). When students clean up their materials and walk to the large group area for a "check-in", that provided the change of pace and movement students' brains and bodies need. These breaks are also the perfect time to teach a short, focused mini-lesson before moving to the next round. 

According to Boushey and Moser, there are many benefits for transitions during Daily 5. These include a physical break from a work session, kinesthetic movement that brains and bodies need before continuing to work, a brain break to allow for refocusing and a natural time to provide another short mini-lesson. 

Are you concerned about all this movement that is about to take place in your classroom? Are you thinking of noise and kids running wild and your children being transformed into little monsters?
Well, rest assured, these transitions can and will work. But, you need to teach your children how to make these transitions. We do this by following the 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence (as described in Chapter 3).

So, What Now?
Now that you've read Chapter 2 and you've read my post, what are you thinking about? Comment on any (or all) of the following: 
1. What are 3 big ideas you took away from this chapter?
2. Do you use a workshop approach, or have you started to try the Daily 5 approach to your literacy block and instruction?
3. What transitions do you already use with success in your class?
4. Have you had any success so far with Daily 5?
5. Are you ready to offer your children choice? If you've already started, what are your thoughts and experiences? If you are not ready, what are you afraid of?
6. What are your other "burning questions"?

Freebies and Resources:
Click Here for a bunch of brain break ideas you can use anytime throughout your day.

Click Here to visit The Daily CAFE (the official Daily 5 and CAFE site).

Click Here for some transition ideas from the amazing Dr. Jean. These can be used throughout the day.

Looking Ahead:
Next week, I'll summarize and discuss the main points in Chapter 3 (The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence).

Comment or Link up!  Blogging continues to be an ongoing journey for me, as I constantly learn new ideas and techniques. Last week, I tried a link up option for the first time. Thanks to Wendy and Gwen for linking up. I didn't see those cute blog thumbnails on their link ups, so I did some more research and learned that I actually had to choose that option (you live, you learn). So, I did for this week. Please leave a comment or link up (if you have your own blog). If linking up, please use the image from the top of my blog somewhere in your post.

Thanks for joining!


  1. I am enjoying reading your post, Jen. Many years ago, when I worked at a Kovalik-based school, I was told that children can pay attention in minutes as to what their ages were, up to 15 minutes. 15 minutes was considered the max. Glad to see this is still a valid statement in brain research. Have a wonderful week!

  2. You and I are so much alike. :) The idea of CHOICE always makes me a little nervous. :/

    Read With Me ABC