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.


1 comment:

  1. Phew! I linked up just under the wire. ;)
    Thanks for another detailed chapter summary. I agree the 10 steps will work for establishing independence with any classroom activity.
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