I also love the official approval to do just 3 rounds of Daily 5 each day (which I already did anyways). Phew! One major difference between the sisters and I is that I have more balance between student choice and teacher choice. For example, my students rotate in groups to different D5 areas. Once they get there they have lots of choices of what they'd like to work on, plus more options if they finish early. This way I can make sure I'm meeting with all my groups. We do 3 rounds of D5 Monday-Thursday.
For the sisters, Work on Writing and Read to Self are non-negotiable items each day, but since Meet the Teacher is non-negotiable for my class I alternate between days when Work on Writing/Read to Self are must-do's. Here's what my weekly schedule usually looked like last fall:
*Note WOW = Work on Writing, WW = Word Work, RTS = Read to Self, LTR = Listen to Reading, RWS = Read with Someone.
The reason why I love Daily 5 so much is because it aligns so closely with my own beliefs as a teacher. It's based on a core system of beliefs (backed up by significant research) that I couldn't agree more with. They are the heart and soul of the Daily 5!
Trust and Respect
One of the things I love most about Daily 5 (I know I say that a lot!) is how respectful it is of students' interests, abilities and time. During Daily 5 we are asking students to participate with us in authentic tasks. We are trusting them to do their best and scaffolding them to get there. Too often I think teachers don't think of trust and respect as a two-way street. You have to give it in order to get it.
I am ALL about community. In fact, I don't use a behavior chart because I feel it's potentially very damaging and counterproductive to creating a caring community of learners (granted, I also usually only have 12 kids in my class). There are a few key things I think are important to remember in establishing and maintaining your classroom community:
- Establish routines.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Play team-building games.
- Use positive reinforcement (not praise).
- Role-model! In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world."
Aren't you much more motivated when you have a choice? Choices help students feel empowered and encourage them to take ownership of their learning! In my classroom, students choose which books to read, where to read, and what activities to participate in while at Work on Writing and Word Work. The two sisters go a step further and allow students to choose which Daily 5 activities to engage in (with Writing and Read to Self as must-do's).
I have less trouble with holding students accountable for their learning with Daily 5 than I've ever had before. Firstly, I value their effort (whether the task is completed or not) as meaningful practice in building their skills. Secondly, the entire classroom works with me in helping their peers do their best. I also use team captains (denoted by a star next to a student's name in each group) to help trouble-shoot any technical issues or questions while I am with a group.
I love love love how much more brain-conscious this book is! In general, it's good to follow the rule of thumb below...
So basically, years = minutes of direct instruction. Keep it short and sweet. Make it count! It's also good to remember the 20/80 rule. 20% direct instruction, 80% practice. You know the old saying that practice makes perfect? Keep practice purposeful and in context to help build students' muscle memory!
Transitions as Brain and Body Breaks
Another thing I love about the Daily 5 is the opportunity for brain breaks and focus lessons between each transition. I use a rainstick as a signal to grab students' attention (do you want your voice to be used mostly for management or instruction?) and then we come back together before breaking up again. I can't stress enough the importance of this time! Helping students reset now keeps the rest of your block running smoothly, especially if you have a whole 90 minutes to get through. You can find a lot of fun ideas in my blog post about movement in boy-friendly classrooms:
See you soon for the scoop on Chapters 3-4!