Disclaimer... and credit where credit is due!

This blog is simply my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions related to the Daily Five and Cafe. I give full credit to the creators of both Daily 5 and Cafe, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, also known as The Sisters. I have attended their workshops, read their books, and subscribe to their website. Everything else, I've interpreted on my own! :)
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Monday, July 1, 2013

A new thinking space...

Wow. I'm shocked that my last post here was in January! I guess I need to spend some quality time giving this blog some attention! As we move into the next school year, I'll be teaching 4th grade but still using Daily 5 and Cafe in my classroom. I plan to continue to share those insights and ideas here!

In the meantime, I will also be posting on my shiny, new professional blog, Ruminate and Invigorate! I'd be honored to have you following me there as well.

Happy summer!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our CAMP menu board in January...

Here we are. January. About halfway through our year together. I'm happy to say I've done a much better job this year of consistently adding the strategies we're working on to our CAMP (my version of Cafe) board. Yes, I do the writing. I know and understand the rationale behind having the kids do it, but I've found that it's really hard to read that way. So, I am the writer, but I do write it with them sitting with me on the carpet.

The strategies we've added come from the Common Core aligned Cafe menu for first grade (directly from Gail and Joan's website,) skills and strategies defined through our MAP test, and things I've noticed as I'm meeting with small groups or conferring with individuals.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Choice

Earlier this school year, I wrote about how we were easing into our shopping routine. That was way back in October! We've continued to shop for books each week (on Fridays) all at the same time. While this does tend to be a little chaotic, I believe the benefits outweigh the slightly crazy atmosphere for about 20 minutes. If you really listen in, it is clearly book excitement that is causing the loudness! Anyway... shopping. We started the year by learning this I-PICK method (directly from Gail and Joan's book.)

We refer to this I-PICK chart often!
As time goes on, we still take time to review this idea. We are learning that book choice is about so much more than just a reading level or the amount of words on a page. We've started thinking about the chart below and how we're using different criteria for choosing our books now. As a matter of fact, we added "recommendations" to this list after I snapped the picture.

We're currently thinking about and adding to this chart.
Earlier in the year, we were shopping primarily from the 6 colored dot tubs in our classroom. These are "leveled" in a way and provide a training ground as we were learning what a good fit book is all about. Gradually, we've begun shopping out of the rest of our classroom library. Now, for the most part, we are shopping just from the other book baskets around our room. These are arranged by topics, genres, series, and authors.

My first graders have the responsibility of choosing the books for their book tubs that they feel are a good fit. No two book tubs will look exactly alike, even if children happen to be reading at the same "level." They are at the point in their reading lives when they are discovering the magic of series books and recommending books to friends. 

While they still get to choose their own books, I do have a few students who still need more of my guidance and nudging with their book selection. There is a time and a place for me to hand students a stack of books that are at their reading level, and then they get to make the decisions as to which ones they'd like to read. I'm okay with that. 

As I've read many times, Allington suggests having students reading books with 95-99% accuracy for most (or all) of their independent reading time. I see the value in that. In my classroom, there is also the freedom to choose books which will challenge us in one way or another. Some of my readers have challenged themselves to ...
-read more "classics" 
-read all of the books in a series
-read more graphic novels
-find books to recommend to friends
-read long books
-read more picture books
-read more nonfiction

One change I've made recently is allowing students to shop for a new title once they finish one in their book tub. This comes into play especially with those students who are reading longer books or are attempting to read books in a series. As a reader, when I find a series I love, I know I cannot wait to read the next book... so who am I to make someone wait until Friday? They are welcome to make the switch at any time, other than during our Daily Five sessions. 

While we do count the number of books we finished that week before we shop, I know that sometimes we finish our books before it's time to shop again. I'd rather have students spend a little extra time looking for new books throughout the week than becoming off-task or bored because they've finished the books in their book tub!

I do hand books to readers at times when I meet with them in small groups or when I confer one-on-one with a reader. I'm also trying really hard to find books to sneak into their book tubs that I think they'll like. I love watching their eyes light up when they see a new book with a little note from me! Just today, I slid a new Martha Speaks book into a little boy's book tub. I knew exactly when he found it because I heard the "MISS KOMOS!!! I love Martha Speaks! Thank you for the new book!" from across the room. : )

Monday, October 22, 2012


This year marks the 5th year I am using the Daily Five in my first grade classroom. Five years. I have learned so much since I first started using the Daily Five framework. While the basics have remained pretty much the same, I have a better idea of what I want and how to get my kids there. I've also followed the updates and new thinking on Gail and Joan's website, which has also pushed my thinking and made things flow even more smoothly.

As my kids and I celebrated this morning (with a 3 minute dance party!), we now officially have all five Dailies up and running! I was sharing with them that this is the earliest one of my classes has ever had all choices in place.

My first year with Daily Five, it took us until January.
My second year, we had everything up and running by Winter Break.
My third year, we were in full swing by Parent-Teacher Conferences (early November.)
Last year, we had everything in place by Halloween.
This year, it is October 22.

As the year progresses, we will tweak and change things as needed. But right now, we are just focused on having all five choices during each session.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Easing into our shopping routine...

We have been shopping for books since our second week of school. It's important to me that students begin to take ownership of their learning and start becoming independent early! We started the year with book tubs that I had created for each first grader, based on information given to me by their Kindergarten teacher. Then, after teaching them the I-PICK method and reviewing good fit books, they began shopping for books to fill their book tubs. We shop for books once a week (on Fridays) for about 20 minutes. Choice is SO incredibly powerful in motivating readers! My little readers started off with limited choice. So far, they have been shopping from the teeny tiny leveled portion of my library. I did a huge library reorganization project this summer, thanks to inspiration from my friends Nicole and Jacquie, as well as the book Beyond Leveled Books by Franki Sibberson, Karen Szymusiak, and Lisa Koch. I now use these few leveled book tubs as the training ground for learning how to shop for appropriate texts.
Our good-fit book
training ground

These used to be my leveled book boxes
that kids use when shopping for books.



Today was a giant step for us! I am starting to release them into "the wild." As you might imagine, shopping for books from our classroom library could potentially be overwhelming. So... I am gradually releasing that responsibility to them. I asked them to continue to choose from the box of books but then asked them to choose books from the library, too. If I was fairly confident they would be able to find a good fit book on their own, I asked them to choose 5 from the library and the rest from the dotted books. If I think they still need some guidance, I asked them to choose 1 or 2 from the library and the rest from the dotted books. Eventually, I am willing to guess that we will no longer need the training grounds and will have full access to choosing books from the classroom library. After all, when was the last time you walked into your local independent book store and asked where the "Level D" books are located? ;)

One section of our classroom library that we usually refer to
as our "Wall of Books"

Here is what I heard today as I consulted with kids during our book shopping time...

Can you help me find a book about pumpkins?

Wait... do you mean I can have a graphic novel in my book tub?!

I like this one, but it has too many words for me.

Is it okay if I take two Flying Beaver Brothers books?

I'm looking for a chapter book. Can you help me find one?

These are too easy.

What books do you think I'll like?

I want this one, but I can't read any of the words!

Yes!! I love Elephant and Piggie books.

I can read the pictures in this book.

I think I need to read more easy books.

Yep, I walked around with a big, goofy grin on my face as I heard all of these comments and questions. These are the beginning signs that we are on our way to becoming thoughtful, excited shoppers and readers!

Monday, October 1, 2012


Here we are, already on the first day of October! My, how time flies. We are making really good progress on our Daily 5 implementation this year. I still have a few friends whose stamina doesn't quite match the rest of the class, but I've decided not to hold back the rest of the class because of it. When their stamina starts to falter, they remain quiet so it doesn't disturb the rest of the class!

I prefer to introduce the Dailies in this order!
Last week, we began implementing choice between Read to Self and Work on Writing. This step was highly motivating and exciting for my first graders! It is helping them take ownership of their learning as well. We had built up our stamina to over 10 minutes for those two components, so it was time to introduce choice. We are currently doing two 12-15 minute sessions daily.

We have these three up and running so far!
We also started learning and practicing Listen to Reading last week. During another time of the day (usually handwriting practice time,) six children at a time were given a chance to Listen to Reading. We have one partner area for Listening, as well as four individual Listen to Reading boxes. Once the group of 6 had listened to a story or two, another group of six had a chance. My goal this week is to offer choice between three components (Read to Self, Work on Writing, Listen to Reading.)

While we've been working on these 3 components, I've also started pre-teaching how to use our Word Work materials.Children have already been working with the following:
individual whiteboards
magnetic letters
letter tiles
magic boards
This way, when we begin practicing Word Work today, the students already know how to use the materials and where they belong so they can focus on the work they should be doing during WW time.

I've also been finding ways to sneak in time to begin meeting with groups and/or individuals. It is absolutely essential that we take the time to build our stamina and learn the right way to do our Daily 5... but I also am responsible for meeting with groups already. I've been able to pull one or two groups during a session of our Daily Five time, but right now, I'm also pulling groups at other "odd" times of the day just to squeeze them in. This way, it doesn't interfere with the important work kids are doing while they practice the Daily Five.

So, in a nutshell, that's where we currently stand! As it looks right now, I'm thinking we just might have all five pieces in place by the end of October. But only time will tell! :)