Tag Archive for Daily 5

The importance of Read-Aloud (at school and home)

I recently read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease after seeing Matt Renwick tweet about it several different times. I had it on my list of professional books to read, but he actually mentioned it again to me in a parent to parent conversation when I shared my concerns regarding my son’s animosity for reading. Yes, you read that right…the principal so passionate about reading has a child that does not enjoy reading himself. My son is growing up in a home filled with hundreds of books, is read to for half an hour each night, but fights me on reading himself just like he does eating broccoli. Don’t get me wrong, he does love to be read to (at home and school) his favorite part of school each day is Daily 5 time, he reads to himself at school, and he reads to friends at school during read-to-someone (I even had to witness this myself, because I didn’t believe that he could have such a different disposition at school!)

So after several recommendations from Matt, I read The Read-Aloud Handbook, which reaffirmed my passion for reading and the importance for reading aloud to my children, even though they may be old enough to read on their own.  I would highly recommend this book to any teacher, parent, grandparent, or child caregiver.

The author, Jim Trelease, challenges NCLB legislation and all other attacks on schools for low reading scores with the argument that a child spends 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours outside of school and that parents have a bigger influence and more time available for change to occur. By reading aloud to children (at home or school) we:

  • condition the child’s brain to associate reading with pleasure
  • create background knowledge
  • build vocabulary
  • provide a reading model

You can find study after study (many shared in his book) that links student reading interest with higher test scores, parent reading habits with higher test scores, read aloud habits at home with higher test scores, and more cases of students from low SES/minority homes making significant gains and breaking their cycle of poverty when being read to at home (even from parents with little education).  What I found most interesting is that Trelease is NOT an educator. He is just a parent that was very passionate about reading to his kids and as a classroom volunteer, saw the effects of not being read to in other children. He shares tips for parents and teachers in this book about reading aloud, as well as a treasury list of books identified by the grade level child to read aloud to (note-the read aloud level is higher than the level a child could read to themself).  A wealth of information can also be found at Trelease’s website here. 

After reading this book, my only concern is: how do we get this information to the parents that really need it?  Many parents, like myself, that are already reading to their children will certainly enjoy this book and have it encourage and reaffirm reading habits already established at home.  Unfortunately, the parents that do not read to their children or see the value in it, also tend to be the parents that do not (or maybe cannot) read any information that is sent home and do not come to school events or conferences.  What can schools do to try and reach these parents?  This year at our Open House (the night before school) I am planning to have a session in the gym for all parents to come in and I will speak at 3 different times and will include the importance of reading aloud at home. What do other schools do to get this message out and help support parents?

Daily 5 School-Wide Part 2

In my last post I shared with you an update on how we have gone school wide with the Daily 5/Cafe framework for teaching literacy.  Just how committed to this are we? Well, the reading basals are now officially boxed up and in storage!!

As we made the transition to going school-wide with Daily 5, I will tell you the first mistake I made as a principal…

During the Spring of 2011, I told all staff that we would be going school-wide with Daily 5 (almost all were familiar with it so it was no major shock) I told them that all they had to worry about was reading/learning how to implement the Daily 5 framework and that the following year we would add Cafe  to all classrooms.  Several teachers had already implemented both Daily 5/Cafe and several more also read the Cafe book to implement this past year as well.  So what was the mistake in holding off for the others?  Daily 5 is the framework for what your students are doing during the literacy block and provides the structure to build up their stamina to read/write for sustained periods of time.  Cafe is the acronym for the strategies you are teaching your students–both in whole group mini-lessons, small group mini-lessons and 1:1 conferring with students. While it is extremely important to have the routines/procedures in place, building up stamina just as “The Sisters” describe in the Daily 5 book, you need the Cafe strategies to teach!
So, there’s my mistake. If you go school-wide, now you know not to make the same mistake I made!

If you are considering going school-wide with Daily 5/Cafe, here are some of the things we did in our building to help make this a successful transition:

  • I created a video from our classrooms that were already using Daily 5/Cafe to share with our staff/school board.
  • Utilize the teachers that have already started and build on their success.  Let other teachers observe in their classrooms to see Daily 5/Cafe in action.  Look at their student reading growth in comparison to other classes–if you have enough data, look at the impact on those students after the summer as well (we’re finding that since the kids enjoy reading books they choose, they’re continuing to read over the summer and either maintaining or increasing their reading levels versus the “summer slide.”)
  • Give all of your staff the Daily 5 and Cafe books.  Buy as many of their DVD’s as you can too.  Use the books and DVD video clips for staff meetings/book clubs, discuss what you’re learning and try applying in the classroom while learning (or if they’re not comfortable that’s when they can observe others that have already implemented).
  • Get memberships to The Daily Cafe website If you can’t afford memberships, anyone can sign up for the weekly newsletters for free.
  • For the first 25 days of getting started, someone combined the Daily 5 and Cafe lessons into one simple document: Daily 5 and Cafe for Dummies, which you can find here (you’ll just have to create/login to this message board to access it).
  • Throughout the school year, I tried to keep the focus of every staff meeting (actually, I call them Professional Learning Meetings) on Daily 5/Cafe. We used different video clips from the DVD’s or the DailyCafe site for our continued professional learning/discussion.  As we started moving forward with 1:1 conferring, I even had a few brave teachers that let us share video clips of them conferring with teachers.  I also had a teacher allow me to video tape her giving a mock lesson and then in the video clip I put in funny thought bubbles like (“what was that strategy?”, “what do the Sisters call it?” and “Thank goodness for the index”) as she referred back to the Daily 5 book while teaching her students.  Aside from adding humor to our Professional Learning Meeting (which is always important) my purpose for that video clip was that we are all learning together and I don’t expect anyone to be an expert. In fact, we are always learning and growing and if you have to refer back to your Daily 5 or Cafe book in the middle of a mini-lesson and then it is just showing students that you are a learner too.
  • Once I discovered the power of Pinterest, I started adding ideas I found for Daily 5/Cafe in Monday Memo’s to staff.
  • Invest in classroom libraries! If you’re transitioning from a basal driven curriculum, chances are that your teachers’ classroom libraries only contain what they have personally invested in them and you will need to flood your libraries with books for students to have a wide variety of books to select from.  Sounds easy, until you realize that $$$$ is involved.  Since we were cutting out the plethora of basal workbooks I moved that money in the budget to allow teachers to purchase books for classroom libraries.
  • Most importantly, support your teachers in any way that you can.  Be it positive feedback, classroom coverage to observe others, time to meet with other teachers to discuss, etc.  If you have the opportunity to send any of your teachers to a workshop with the Sisters, do it!  One of our teachers had this opportunity (our first teacher to implement Daily 5/Cafe) .  We did send a team of 10 to see them at a conference, but the Sisters got stuck in a snow storm so we were really bummed out.  (My teachers keep asking if we can bring Gail and Joan to our school, but I keep telling them it’s not likely going to happen!)
I would love to hear any other ideas/tips from teachers/admin on making the transition to Daily5/Cafe!

Daily 5 School-Wide

A year and a half ago, I shared about the decision to go school-wide with Daily 5.  Since this post I have had a few requests from colleagues in my PLN to post an update on where our school is with Daily 5, so here it goes…

This past year, all of our teachers in K-5th grade taught literacy with the Daily 5 framework.  Our Kindergarten teachers held off until mid-year to start, however, it was such a success that they will not be waiting next year.  It was amazing to see that even our 5 year-olds could build their stamina to read to themselves or write for up to 20 minutes!

Across all grade levels, there is a drastic change in the amount of time students are actually reading/writing than when we previously taught from the reading basal.  Since the Daily 5 framework gives students choice in what they are reading, students are more engaged and excited to read.  About mid-year I started allowing our 4/5th graders to bring their books into the lunch room (after reading about this simple idea to “steal reading minutes” from The Book Whisperer) and was amazed how many were reading while waiting in line or had to be told to put their book down to eat lunch! I also had many great conversations with students about the books they were reading and have enjoyed many books myself that were recommended by students.

When looking at the reading data for the grade levels that had been taught with the Daily 5 framework the previous year, it was intriguing to find that there was a higher rate of student reading levels increasing over the summer.  We can only assume that this is because they are enjoying reading and continuing to read more over the summer.

I have also found that teachers enjoy reading much more in the past–both in teaching it and for their personal enjoyment.  In one grade level discussion, teachers shared that they previously dreaded the reading block and the boring basal stories/worksheets, but now it is enjoyable and sometimes relaxing during the literacy block.  They enjoying sharing their own reading lives with students and modeling that they, themselves, are learners.

This journey has been an exciting one for us as a faculty.  When we first began moving to go school-wide with Daily 5, many teachers wanted to visit other schools to see it in action.  One grade level did get this opportunity, however, it didn’t become a possibility for the others.  What’s most interesting is that by the time I was able to connect with another school to get teachers to visit, our teachers were already doing such an amazing job of implementing Daily 5/Cafe that we had teachers from other schools visiting to observe in their classrooms!

In my next blog post, I will share resources/practices that we found helpful on our Daily 5 journey and a decision I made that wasn’t so helpful (I have to give some reason for you want to return to read more!)

Why Students Don’t Read What is Assigned in Class

*This is blog post #5 in the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge*

Since our building has goneschool-wide with Daily 5/Cafe, my beliefs on teaching literacy have changed dramatically from when I started teaching.  I only wish that I could go back in time and teach reading the way my awesome teachers are now.  My beliefs have been influenced by “The Sisters,” Regie Routman, Donalyn Miller, and Kelly Gallagher.  If you are an elementary principal or are in a position to have anything to do with teaching literacy, then you had better know who these educators/authors are and read their books! If you’re in Middle/High School, don’t close this window yet…

A while back, someone tweeted out a link for the following video that I think sums up one of my new core reading beliefs: when students are allowed to choose what they are reading, they will read more and grow as readers.

Does your literacy program/classroom give students a choice in what they read?

Teaching with Daily 5/Cafe for Summer School — My Reflections

This is a cross-post from my staff blog…the first of my blog posts to model reflection for my teachers (and “putting myself out there” for them).

Since I am asking all teachers to teach using the Daily 5 Framework for Literacy this year, I felt that it was important for me to dip my hands in this as well. How can I ask my teachers to do something that I haven’t ever done? During our 2nd session of summer school I taught 6th Grade English Language Arts (students going into 6th grade) and used the Daily 2 (Read to Self and Work on Writing) as my framework and taught Cafe Strategies. One disclaimer I must mention is that this was only 3 weeks (12 days) for this session and I only had 7-9 students each day.

Since our 5th graders were used to the Daily 3 (Read to Self, Work on Writing and Word Work) I decided to continue with Read to Self and Work on Writing, but did not add Word Work due to only having them for 3 weeks.

Here are my reflections from my experience:

  • I began my planning for this class by using the Daily 5 and Cafe For Dummies guide that I found on the ProTeacher message board (I’m sorry to not give credit that’s due, but I do not know who created this). From looking at the Daily 5 and Cafe books, this packet combines the lessons for the first 25 days from both of the books so you don’t have to be flipping through both books. I found this packet extremely helpful. I did still find myself turning to the Daily 5 and Cafe books–they really become your “bible” as you are teaching. The Daily 5 book gives a great list of picture books for mini-lessons, however, I wish I could have found a list that was more specific, identifying picture books for each cafe strategy and specific to grade levels. After wishing that I could find this I decided to start a document in our school shared file (in the Cafe folder) so that as teachers develop their lesson they can add to this. Teachers- I encourage you to add to this document throughout the year so we can work smarter together!
  • After the first day with my students I realized how important it is to have MANY MANY books in your classroom library and a wide variety to meet their interests. If a student cannot find a book that they are interested in then they are going to have a difficult time increasing their stamina (it reminds me of how many times I have fallen asleep while trying to watch a Western movie with my husband–I have no interest in them!) When I was a classroom teacher I spent most of my money and effort to make sure I had enough leveled books, but during this summer school class found myself going to the library and gathering as many books as I could that I felt would appeal to the wide variety of interests of this group of students, because the classroom library wasn’t meeting their reading appetite. As a leader, this also tells me how we need to be spending our book money at school–on classroom libraries.
  • I had this group of students from 8:00-9:10 and found it was not even close to enough time. After a class meeting and a mini lesson, we often only had one round of Daily2 and then gathered together before it was time to go. I’m glad that we have made 90 minute literacy blocks a priority in our building, but also now realize why the 2nd grade teachers have told me they can not teach science and social studies as separate subjects–to have enough time for literacy, they must integrate those content areas into literacy. With limited time and a sense of urgency for what I wanted to accomplish during this 70 minute period, I realized that I could not be doing all the talking in my mini-lessons…the person who does the most work does the most learning. I found the Whole Class Lesson Elements on pages 95-96 of the CAFE book a good reminder for how to engage students in learning and for them to be doing the most work—not me.
  • In regards to time and time spent on writing, I also found that Daily 5 time cannot be your only time for writing. Regie Routman says, “kids who have a purpose care about their writing and the people who will read it.” In the Daily 5 book, the sisters distinguish between Work on Writing and Writers’ Workshop (they do have a separate Writer’s Workshop time in addition to D5 time): “Typically children use Work on Writing time to continue the work they have been doing during writer’s workshop. The main difference between the two is that during the workshop, we may ask students to produce a piece of writing based on a strategy or genre being taught, but during the Daily Five it is sustained writing of their choice.”
  • I began using the Daily framework and taught a Cafe strategy from the first day and could not imagine teaching without the Cafe strategies. I know that many teachers begin by teaching only with Daily 5 and then read the Cafe book to add on after they feel comfortable with the Daily 5 framework, but Daily 5 just gives you the HOW–how your students are using their time during literacy. Cafe gives you the WHAT–the strategies you are teaching them to use during that literacy time. I can now see how a teacher might end up reverting back to old reading practices (pulling out the basal and workbooks) because Daily 5 is not enough.
  • I realized how important it is for students to set their purpose before they go to a round. I started out by having them tell me where they were going (Read to Self or Work on Writing) but then found one student spending quite a bit of time flipping through pages of his writers notebook, not accomplishing anything. Since he was not being independent and building his stamina I ended that round, came back and reviewed the I-Charts. Before having them go the next round I talked about how they also had to set their purpose. That student picked Work on Writing again, but this time I asked him what his purpose was, what was he going to work on? He told me he wanted to write about going camping. Guess what he did for the next round? He was completely focused and wrote the entire time–we actually ran out of time for him and he asked me if he could take his notebook home to finish that night (and he did)! The sisters say, “for each Daily Five choice the sense of urgency comes from understanding the why. The purpose for each task is clear, so the activity becomes worthy of concentrated effort and time. When we begin each lesson by telling our children why we are taking time to teach the idea or concept, we consistenly see more motivation and on-task behavior no matter what we are teaching.”
  • After my first week and a half of trying to decide what CAFE strategies I was going to teach and how, I realized there is an entire section in the back of the CAFE book to help you out (DUH!!) starting on page 153. Put a big, bright tab there, because you will be using that section!
  • This is just “cosmetic” but I think the CAFE board we created would have looked better if I made the colored paper long enough to cover the length of the board (like the Sisters show). I don’t really like how mine looked. I think it also looks more uniform when sentence strip paper is used instead of what I did (just cutting up construction paper that didn’t end up being strips of the same size).
  • 1:1 Conferring and “The Pensieve”: I set up a pensieve for conferring with students and used the forms that the Sisters recommend in their book. I used the calendar to write down when I planned to confer with students (although I found this did not always get followed). I used the Keeping Track Form to document the dates for when I conferred with students for reading and writing. I found this more helpful for me, because it was a quick visual to see that which students I hadn’t met with much at all (I tried to confer with the below readers every day for reading and only a few times for the higher readers during this 12 period session). I also used the Reading Conference with Icons form, but didn’t find this to be very helpful when looking back to try to look for patterns/trends in a student’s reading habits. After this session of summer school, Stacey Johnson shared with me a form she created that I liked much better, because it gives more of a checklist of what to listen for (so see her if you want to borrow or adapt it for your grade). I also found it helpful to keep a reflection page for myself in the Pensieve–I could turn to this and quickly jot a reflection note for myself in just 30 seconds (I am using my list of quick reflections to write this post).
  • I wish I could go back in time and teach with the Daily 5/Cafe. I cannot tell you how enjoyable and relaxing it was. I think back to teaching with guided reading/literacy centers and all the time/effort I spent to creating those centers, trying to decide what/how to grade centers work and really how much more work I did than the students. With Daily 5/Cafe, the students are doing the work, applying the strategies, and improving as readers. When given a choice, students have the motivation and develop a love for reading and writing.
  • As I said in the beginning of this post, I think it is essential that as the leader, I experience teaching with Daily 5/Cafe and that I continue to learn along with you through this journey at Dodgeland. I would love to spend more time in the classrooms teaching alongside teachers, not just coming in to observe. If anyone is open to this, I would love to come into a classroom for a week at a time to co-teach during the literacy block. Let me know if you’re interested!

Reflections from 2nd Graders…Why and How are we better readers?

We LOVE to read and because of The Daily 5 and CAFE Menu, that’s why!

– Our classroom library has more books to choose from.
– I know what I am reading for. I meet MY expectations.
– I’m expanding my vocabulary when I read.
– I like where I get to read during Read to Self and Read to Someone
-I have a goal that I want to meet.
– I am more fluent- I can read faster and not choppy like a robot.
– I’ve learned a lot of new vocabulary (from Mr. Wiggle Worm’s Word of the Day) that I find in my reading.
– I am choosing better books this year to read. Books I really like to read.
– I understand how and why I read. I like Daily 5.
– I pick a Just Right Book on topics I am interested in reading and learning about. I also pick books to read from series I enjoy and authors I like.
– I have more independence when I read.
-I spend more time on Word Work to help me on my spelling words and I find those words in my reading books. I like making connections!
– I know all the words when I read because I have worked on Accuracy this year.
– I realize the meaning of the words from the books I am reading now.
– I am a voracious reader!
– I am reading to learn more.
– I am not reading choppy anymore. I read more fluently.
– I am reading and understanding harder books.
– Reading helps me to learn science and make connections to our science class.

The decision to go school-wide with Daily 5

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.