Of all the books I read over the summer, the Daily 5 is the one I should of read. Reading had been a nagging concern all of last term. I spent hours putting together worksheets and finding stories for my students to read during rotations but I had this nagging feeling that the kids weren’t well engaged. I kept hearing mentioning of the Daily 5 on twitter and was curious to find out more.
Once I finally got paid, I downloaded the Daily5 along with the Book Whisperer onto my iphone and finally had a eureka moment. Alongside learning the mechanics of reading my kids also needed time set aside in class to read. So away we went. I borrowed the Book Whisper’s strategy of instituting a target of 30 books from a range of genres, a reader’s notebook for the kids to keep track of what they are reading, what they want to read, genre notes and most importantly a weekly letter from the student reflecting on their reading.
The Daily 5 gives the kids the space to do this within a classroom setting through Read to Self and Read to Others. I found it interesting how many of the students have already remarked in their reflections that they’ve read more books in the first two weeks of this term than they did during the entire of last year and more importantly how many of them have started reading books introduced to them by their partner during Read to Others.
Work on Words and Work on Writing have largely evolved from existing classroom programmes. This week the students were assigned a task to complete a blog post as a character from the book they were reading and work on words on the windows using liquid chalk was a big hit. I was amazed when one of my more reluctant writers, who often struggled to write more than paragraph or two, spent time at home working on a lengthy post as a character from her favourite books and then asked for a similar writing assignment next week!
At the moment my students get one ‘free choice’ session a day, but as their confidence (not to mention my own) improves, I hope that the kids will be able to self-select their timetable.
One of the important components of the daily 5 is that the kids can work anywhere in the class and stay put during the location. Because my classroom furniture is the old fliptop desks, I borrowed @kathryntrask idea of using buckets for storage which ensures the students have their stuff with them so don’t need to move in the middle of the sessions (thus avoiding distracting others and time-wasting by shopping for books etc.). As a result, most of the students aren’t working at their desks during literacy but are sitting on the floor, lying under the tables or scrawling wacky words they find from their books onto the windows using liquid chalk.
The students like that the Daily 5 gives them time to actually read and write. I feel a bit shaky as the programme seems so different from teacher-directed texts and responses I tried in the first term. Although as anecdotal evidence when I mused out loud that the class had five minutes to kill before school assembly and asked the students for suggestions as to what we could do, the first answer they came up with was ‘read’ and within 20 seconds they all had their heads in a book!