Sunday, April 27, 2014

The New Daily Five: Chapter 4

What do you need to begin the Daily 5?

You may be wondering what items you would need in order to implement The Daily 5 in your classroom.  Chapter 4 lists the "must-haves."

Really Good Stuff

The Quiet Signal

During The Daily 5, there are several opportunities to check-in with your students.  At these check-in points, students will need to meet back at the gathering place.  A familiar signal for quieting students is an important element of The Daily 5.  You may want to choose wind chimes as suggested by Boushey and Moser. A rain stick or a music box may work as well.

The Sisters suggest the "Above-Pause-Whisper" method.  Use an above signal, pause until you have students' attention, and then whisper the directions.  

Chart Rack or Interactive Whiteboard

A chart stand or an interactive white board will be needed in order to create I-Charts.  These anchor charts will be displayed and referred to often, so consider which method will be most effective for you.

Personally, I prefer the physical charts over the digital ones.  I like to be able to direct students to the chart stand and have them read over a chart.  This is a little more difficult if you have to access them from a digital file.  

Tools, Not Toys

You may want to gather some tools (like joke books, I Spy Books, or fun reading manipulatives) to put into a bin to support the children who have difficulty building stamina.  Another great idea is to tape off work space areas so that children can see the boundaries of the area, thus preventing them from wandering around the classroom during an independent work time.  I've used the boundary idea with students and it was very effective. 

Steps to Literacy

Book Boxes

Students need to have access to books for independent reading time. The Sisters suggest that students have their own browsing boxes where they can store "just right" books.  Primary classrooms should have at least 700 titles with a good mix of fiction and non-fiction.

A Gathering Place and Focus Lessons 

You will need to create a space for large group instruction.  In this space, students will meet for mini-lessons and check-ins.  You may want this spot to be located near your interactive white board; you might want to keep your chart stand there as well. This is area is where your class anchor charts will be created.

Meeting in a large group instruction area has advantages: close proximity, fewer distractions, and the opportunity for partner discussions.  

Our principal was sweet enough to purchase carpets for all the primary classrooms.  I love the grouping possibilities they provide.  Students can meet with a partner who is seated in a square beside them or with a partner of an assigned color. Students can also sit on an alphabet letter around the outside edge. 


During the lessons,  I-Charts are created and displayed as a reference for students use access as needed.  A chart stand can be used to store the charts.  Some teachers prefer to use a Smart board and save the charts digitally.  

Classroom Design 

Does your classroom provide comfortable, cozy spots to promote reading?  You may want to consider adding a few bean bag chairs, rocking chairs, or carpeted areas with study pillows.  Some specialty items that teachers have used and students love - a reading tent, claw-foot bath tub, blow up pool, or large tractor tire with pillows inside.

Do you have a special spot where students can cuddle up with their books?  Please share your book nook idea in the comments.  The hop on over to That First Grade Blog for Jen's thoughts on the book.  :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Poet-Tree Post

April is National Poetry Month.  Are you looking for an awesome mentor text to launch your poetry unit or a clever way to display published pieces?

Join me today at Adventures in Literacy Land for a Poet-Tree post.

Adventures in Literacy Land

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Organizing Homework

I'm linking up with Carla from the Comprehension Connection to share a tip for collecting homework.

In my 20 years of teaching, I've tried a number of methods for collecting students' homework, but this little pocket chart changed my life.  ;)
Lakeshore Learning
As a reading specialist, I no longer have a homeroom.  However, I still share this little tip with all my teacher friends.  

This is how it worked:  

Students were assigned a specific pocket in alphabetical order.  In the morning as my first graders would arrive to class, they would empty out their folder and put their homework sheet in their pocket.

The chart was located in a spot where we gathered for our morning meeting.  As a student gave the morning calendar report, it was easy for me to glance at the pocket chart for missing homework.

I kept a class checklist in one of the extra pockets, and I simply pulled it out and marked an X for missing homework or an A for an absent student.  It took me a matter of seconds.

The Student-of-the-Day would take the papers out of the pockets (still in alphabetical order) and place them on my desk.  It made correcting the papers and returning them to the students' mailboxes so much easier.

What's your secret to making homework hassle-free?  Leave a comment here or link up with the Comprehension Connection to share your idea.  :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SLANT Box and a Giveaway :)

Have you heard of The SLANT Box Exchange? SLANT stands for Sending Love Across the Nation to Teachers. It's a monthly gift exchange for teachers hosted by Lessons with Coffee.  I love, love, love this idea!  

I spent the month of March to know two amazing teacher-bloggers, Meghan from Keeping Up With Mrs. Harris and Amanda from Third Grade Fabulous.

Meghan is my first match; she is a K-3 intervention specialist in Georgia, and she sent her SLANT Box my way.  How awesome is it that she shares my passion for teaching intervention kiddos?!  Here's a little peek at the goodies she selected for me.  I love the navy and pink running shorts... a subtle reminder that I need to get out there and run, lol.  :)

I shipped my SLANT Box to North Carolina.  Amanda is a third grade teacher.  From coffee to an addiction for cute office supplies, Amanda and I have so much in common.  Here's a sneak peek at the box I sent her way.  But you'll have to hop over to her blog to see what's inside.  ;)

This project was super fun.  It was wonderful getting to know Meghan and Amanda.  I'm looking forward to continuing these new friendships.

Giveaway Announcement: 

My friend, Andrea at Reading Toward the Stars, is celebrating her 2nd bloggy birthday by throwing a huge giveaway.  Several of her blogging buddies, myself included, have donated items for the giveaway.  Hop on over to wish her a happy birthday and enter her raffle for a chance to win some really awesome prizes.  :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

The New Daily 5: Chapter Three

Once again I'm linking up with my friend Jen from That First Grade Blog. We've been discussing The Daily 5, Second Edition by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  

Chapter three is all about teaching students to become independent readers and writers.  In a nut shell: set clear expectations;  model, model, model;  practice, practice, practice; and take time to reflect. Boushey and Moser describe in depth the ten step to teaching and learning independence.

Step 1: Identify What Is Being Taught

The first step is super easy.  When launching Daily 5 lessons, a simple routine is established. Tell students exactly what is going to be taught. Create an anchor chart that will be referenced throughout the year. The Sisters call this an I-Chart, short for independence.  The I-Chart lists the responsibilities of the students on one side and the responsibilities teacher on the other side.

Step 2: Set a Purpose and Create a Sense of Urgency

Students work best when they know the importance of the task at hand.  Gather at the meeting place and create an I-Chart listing the reasons for the Daily 5.  Students help to create the chart, so they are invested in it.  They have ownership.

Step 3: Record Desired Behavior on an I-Chart

Meet at the gathering place and list the desired behaviors on an I-Chart.  This is a notable change from the first edition, where students brainstormed the list and the lesson became too lengthy.

For younger students with shorter attention spans, you may wish to list only a few desired behaviors the first day and return to the chart later to add more.

Step 4: Model Most-Desirable Behaviors

Invite students to role-play the desired behaviors.  Engage students in a discussion about what they saw being modeled.  Ask students if these behaviors will lead to better readers and writers...yes!

Step 5: Model Least Desirable Behaviors, Then Most-Desirable Behaviors Again

Invite a student to model incorrect or least desirable behaviors.  Ask students if these behaviors will lead to better readers and writers...of course not.  Then ask the same student to model the desired behaviors.  This is a great opportunity to select a child that may experience difficulty during Daily 5.  The student has 'fun' role-playing, but you begin to shape his/her behaviors.

Step 6: Place Students Around the Room

Students learn how to choose a spot in which to work.  The students with the greatest length of stamina are invited to go first.  Students choose their spots by asking themselves, "Is this a spot where I can be most successful?"  

Step 7: Practice and Build Stamina

This step is so important to the success of The Daily 5 implementation.  Students practice and build stamina.  If a student goes off-task, the signal is given and students regroup.  The teacher keeps a class poster of the stamina built everyday.  It's a terrific motivator for students and a visual reminder of their successes.  

Since each class of students is different, your students' behavior will set the pace for building stamina each year.  

Step 8: Stay Out of the Way 

This step may be the most difficult for teachers.  Once students begin to practice and build stamina, teachers need to step out of their path. They will learn independence when they rely upon themselves to get the job done. 

Step 9: Use A Quiet Signal to Bring Students Back to the Gathering Place

When stamina breaks down and less desirable behaviors occur, use a quiet signal to call students to the gathering place.  The Sisters suggest the "Above-Pause-Whisper" method.  Use an above signal (for example- a rain stick or chime), pause until you have students' attention, and then whisper the directions. 

Step 10: Conduct a Group Check-In

It is important to have a check-in after each independent work session to reflect on how things went.  Ask students to rate how they performed and set a goal for the following day.  I-charts and expectations can be revisited if needed.  

Are you using The Daily 5 in your classroom? What are your greatest successes? What aspects are most difficult for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments or join the book club and link up with my friend, Jen, at That First Grade Blog.  :)