For years, I struggled with what to have my first graders do while I met with small groups and individuals. Way back when, seat work was what I gave my first graders. Then, I decided it made more sense for them to complete seat work and move to centers. Centers took the form of areas around the room, gift bags, big deli boxes from the local grocery store filled with games and activities, and even pizza boxes. After I'd tried centers, my school "mandated" Debbie Diller's Literacy Work Stations. That was a TON of work... and basically turned out to be kids doing worksheets in different areas of the room! Most of my past attempts took up way too much space, teacher time, and didn't accomplish my goal of creating readers and writers! Three years ago, I stumbled across The Daily Five book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. I'm never one to back down from trying something new, so I gave it a whirl. With the Daily Five, my first graders are engaged in authentic reading and writing tasks as I confer with individuals and provide small group instruction. Finally!! :)
Daily Five start-up does take time and patience, but I promise you... it will all be worth it! My first year of trying the Daily Five, I had all five components in place by Winter Break in December. The second year, everything was up and running by Thanksgiving Break in November. This past year, we were into our rounds of the Dailies by parent/teacher conferences, which take place at the beginning of November. I know that sounds like a very long time, but in order for children to build their stamina and get into the routine of doing the Daily Five the way I want them to, we have to take the time at the beginning of the year. It makes for a much smoother rest of the school year!
I found this info on getting started on the "free" part of the Sisters' website. If you haven't subscribed to their website and/or their weekly newsletters, I'd highly recommend getting both! When I was starting the Daily Five, I came to rely on both of those resources quite a bit. And, of course, reading the book is a must! You might also want to check out the ProTeacher website's Peony Room. I found so many incredible ideas and resources there!
Oh... side note! If you haven't heard, Gail and Joan have changed the order in which they recommend introducing the Dailies. This is different than in the book! They recommend Read to Self, Work on Writing, then any order for the last three. My preferred order is:
Read to Self
Work on Writing
Listen to Reading
Read to Someone
By saving Read to Someone for last, the kids already know the expectations for what the room should look like and sound like. This helps as they start building their stamina while reading quietly with a buddy!
When I saw the Sisters at their two-day Daily Five and Cafe conference in December of 2009, I was enthralled with their knowledge and energy! Being that I was sitting in the front row both days (it's just my thing!) I was able to interact with them quite a bit. After the conference ended, I chatted with them and loved Gail's comment to me. She thanked me for sitting in the front row; it was very encouraging to them to see me smiling constantly for those two days! My sister's third graders also asked me to pass along a message to Gail and Joan. They asked me to thank the Sisters for giving them their love of reading and writing back. If that isn't powerful, I don't know what is!
Implementing the Daily Five in my classroom is quite possibly the best leap of faith I've taken, and it was absolutely worth it! I'm going to see the Cafe conference again in November and am super excited to spend the day with them!
Following Karyn's lead, I decided I'd better dedicate one blog just to the Daily Five and Cafe. Otherwise, it may overtake my original blog! :) Stay tuned! I plan to blog much more about the Daily Five and Cafe!