Thursday, June 14, 2012

Let's get this party started...or try to at least! and Daily 5 book study

Today is the day that I enter the world that I have stalked for so long...blogging!  I stalk certain blogs DAILY and love everything I see.  I have learned so many things and gotten such great ideas from all of you in bloggerville. Now that school is out and I've a little (not a lot) time, I've been catching up on all the blogs I enjoy visiting.  As luck would have it, there is a Daily 5 book study going on hosted by Mel D at seusstastic classroom inspirations and many other people and I really wanted to be a part of it.  But, you have to have a blog to respond in a meaningful way. Leaving a comment wasn't what I wanted to do.

It was just the push I needed to get me started.  I've wanted to write my own blog but was scared to tell the truth.  I have no idea what I am doing!  I'm sure there is some sort of blog "code" that I am not aware of and I am sure I'll break a bunch of rules as I start.  I'll go ahead and apologize now and ask that you leave me a comment and let me know the way it's supposed to be done :)

Daily 5 book study

If you haven't read the Daily 5 by the wonderful "two sisters" Gail Boushey and Joan Moser you might consider adding it to your summer reads list.  It is THE resource I use for teaching literacy in my room.  The book is a guide to creating in your students independence as readers and writers.  They are immersed in reading, and take their literacy learning into their own hands and this offers a powerful opportunity for success in students' educational journey, in my opinion.  Mel D posed these questions to get our creative juices flowing and here is my response to these questions!

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?
Before I started daily 5 I think I would say my room was somewhere in between.  I used workstations with activities I selected.  I tried to use the games/activities we had used during lessons that were literacy based but still "fluff work" was there too. Now, with the d5 choices my students are engaged the entire time but with meaningful, literacy building activities.   My role as teacher has changed too.  Before everything was dependent on me.  Now I am merely a guide, helping when needed (and that is rare) and I am able to focus all my attention to groups which is what I wanted all along!  Another change that I love is the fact that my room flows so peacefully!  I know that sounds crazy...22 second graders, choosing and reading around the room on their own peaceful???!!!  Well, it is.  They take this very seriously.  They know the expectation and what the outcome will be at the end of the year and they are all over it!!! They feel grown up and look forward to d5 time each day.

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers? 
BD5 I did work stations.  I had such a diverse group, with levels that ranged from very low to very high, that I had 7 small reading groups.  Small group instruction=workstation time in my room.  Those stations included just about anything that I thought were worthy of time for the kids. I tried to include some kind of reading at every station but there might be math or science or art as well.   It usually always included some kind of product because if they weren't busy they (a) weren't working/learning, (b) weren't going to do what was expected of them at that station and (c) their behavior was out of control and I'd have to stop my groups to get them back on task again! At first I was gung-ho in taking all their "products" and looking at them, sharing them, etc. then the first couple of weeks ended and "real school" got going.  Product check quickly went out the door. Like the sisters, I was exhausted and out of time because I was making more work for myself and for the kids. two words - busy work - that's what my kids got.  D5 is the complete opposite.  Now, after D5,  I am teaching my mini lessons and the kids are getting to practice using their choice of focus area. I know that during my literacy block that is exactly what is happening...literacy!  Reading in every area of my room.  They get what they need and lots of it!  My kids actually look forward to reading instruction everyday.  No more groans when I say "come to the carpet".  It is AAAAAMAZING!!!!!

What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
D5 components take literacy components we must focus on and teach the kids how to use that component to become independent in their learning.  I thought I was doing that.  I really had good intentions of making workstations a place where they could practice our mini lessons but it was easier to just put "fun stuff" there so I could have all my attention devoted to my groups.  But my kids were doing just that "fun stuff" and their behavior and progress showed it!  I knew that I was spinning wheels but I had always taught using centers, then workstations with me in control because I knew best!!!  I didn't know what else to do.  One sleepless night (insomnia happens frequently with me) I ran across the sisters while surfing the net.  I was blown away and how SIMPLE, SIMPLE, SIMPLE it all sounded. And successful too! I wouldn't have to get anything together for the next day?  I wouldn't have to have a "product" for every stations? I would be able to see my kids working and enjoying reading/writing?  sign me up!!!  I bought the book the next day and read the entire thing!  The d5 is different from what I was doing because it took what I was trying to do which was build strong readers and had them do just that 'READ'-not do worksheets, not do games, not do things that would waste their time as learners.  Every minute spent in d5 is spent on practicing and building their literary focus making them stronger, self-sufficient students!  That was a huge difference because I, on the other hand, was doing the opposite for them.  Wasting their precious time and making them dependent on me and my choice for what was best for them.  All that rambling to say this...this is meaningful learning at its finest. Every student will see success because they have ownership in the steps.  They choose what they need and how to achieve what is expected during each round.  They are accountable and they meet expectations because of that.  
Daily 5 has changed the way I teach.  It allows me and my students to flourish.  We are all happy and enjoy what we do at school and isn't that what we want for our little ones and for ourselves???  I think y e s!!  I won't ever teach literacy any other way not after seeing how powerful this really is!!  You have to give it a try!  Hop on over and visit Mel D at seusstastic classroom inspirations.

Keep coming back.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the welcome Jessica! Looks like a fun way to share ideas.

  2. I'm visiting via the Daily 5 book study. Welcome to Blogland! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on chapter one. I'm moving to second grade next year after being in 3rd for fourteen years, and have decided to implement Daily 5 and CAFE. I am beyond excited! Yell at me if you need any help with your blog! Keep at it and post often! Yay! I'm your first follower!!!

    Waving from The Teacher's Chatterbox,

    1. Thanks so much for the offer of help! and for being my first follower!!! I am going to need it! I'd love to do a give-away or freebie but since I'm new I have no idea how to do this! I'd love some advice on how! When I learn you'll get the first give-away for being my first follower! You'll love teaching 2nd. I know I do! Hopefully you'll get lots of ideas you can use here!