Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Daily 5: Are We Crazy To Try This?

Have you heard of the Daily 5? Maybe I’m late to the party but I only found out about it last year. I'm not in any way affiliated with the sisters or their program but you can check them out here. The whole process of implementing the program seemed very overwhelming so I thought I'd share how it's working for us during our first year. 

Toward the end of last year, a colleague and I decided to implement the daily 5 into our junior high classroom starting this September. To be honest, while I loved the idea of the daily 5 I wasn’t sure how it would work at our school, an alternate school with one room for all junior high students. Despite my reservations I figured other schools in our area were having success with it so why not give it a try, right? Plus anyone who knows me knows Language Arts is my true love!   

Aren't these posters adorable?
Here's the original source.

The first thing we did was start visiting other teachers. In June we went to an elementary school in our district and observed a couple classes who had been using the daily 5 successfully for quite a while. It was fantastic to see the students all working independently, on task, while the teachers were able to work on focused mini-lessons with small groups. In my mind, if the little kids could do it, so could our bigger kids. We also spent time talking with the Special Ed coordinator at that school, getting ideas about where to start and what to do. She was extremely helpful and more than willing to answer my many (and I mean MANY) questions.

Over the summer I read the daily 5 book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. It’s an easy read that breaks it down quite simply. I like that it gave specific instructions on how to plan and implement each component of the program. While it wasn’t really geared towards the age and type of students at our school, I could see how a lot of the ideas could be used with just a little tweaking. There were a few components that wouldn’t necessarily translate well but I think that’s the case with anything.

These are so fun I almost wish I teach little kids... almost...
With that little bit of knowledge and preparation we jumped right in. We have daily 5 time for the last half hour of every school day and spend the first class explaining why we were doing the daily 5 (improving enjoyment of and skills related to reading and writing) and what each class would look like. Then we moved right into “Read to Self”, which we've been doing for the past four weeks. I don’t want this post to get too long so I’ll save that for the next one.

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