Last year I had a second grade teacher come to me at the start of the year to ask my permission to change her literacy block to implement The Daily Five that she had read about over the summer. I had never heard about The Daily Five, but asked her to tell me how it would be good for kids. She was so excited to explain to me about The Daily Five provides a structure for the literacy block in which students have choices in what they are doing each day: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, and Word Work. Of course she had a lot more to tell me, but the short end of the story is that I said “go for it.” By the end of the year, the rest of the second grade teachers began to implement The Daily Five after seeing the results she was having with her students.
Fast forward to the start of this school year when I was blown away when I reviewed each grade level’s reading scores at the beginning of the year. Our third graders started out the year with higher reading levels than previous groups had in third grade. I wondered if it had anything to do with The Daily Five. I began spending a great deal of time in classrooms during literacy blocks.
In classrooms that had whole class reading instruction (in upper grades) or reading centers/guided reading (in the lower grades) I found: teachers put a LOT of work/time into creating centers each week and explaining them to students, teachers spent a lot of time REexplaining centers, students were often off-task, and on average students were only reading for about 7 minutes during a 60 minute literacy block!
In classrooms that followed the Daily 5 structure (some using the Cafe Menu of literacy strategies) I saw kids reading, talking about reading and writing. When the class “checked in” students were activley engaged in a mini-lesson and then decided what their focus and goal was for the next session. I couldn’t believe it the first time I heard 23 students individually state where they were going and why, all within 2 minutes. And then, they did it! The entire time I was in Daily 5 classrooms, students were engaged in literacy. Outside of the classrooms, I saw students choosing to read in the lunch room or in the bus line–inlcuding kids that have previously not enjoyed reading. I think the biggest shock for me was when I was reading through the gratitude slips that students submitted to the office and “Skip” wrote that he’s grateful for his teacher because they get to read all the time. I knew we only had one “Skip” in our school, but I still stopped and asked my secretary if we had another one, because surely the “Skip” I knew from previous years wouldn’t enjoy reading!
So, what do I do with this information that I’ve gained? I started a voluntary Daily 5 book study in the fall. We had a combination of teachers that already read and had implemented Daily 5 and teachers that knew nothing about it and wanted to learn more. Many of us also attended our local reading council’s evening meeting that had a nearby district presenting how they implemented Daily 5. After I decided that we are going to implement this in every classroom next year, I registered 10 teachers to attend the Wisconsin State Reading Association Convention to see The Sisters (although that one got canceled due to the blizzard–boo!). We have purchased DVDs and books for the rest of the teachers that weren’t in the book study. We are planning to have a summer training for teachers. I have been encouraging teachers to observe other classrooms that are using Daily 5 and I’ve been getting substitute coverage for teachers currently using Daily 5/Cafe to check it out in other districts.
Revised on 7/25/12 to add: If you’re curious in finding out how our progress has gone since this was originally posted, you can read more about Daily 5 School-Wide and Daily 5 School-Wide Part 2. Cybraryman also has a page full of resources HERE.