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! :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

"How is it better than what I'm doing now?"

Thanks to my friend and Twitter colleague, Nicole, for always asking me brilliant questions! This morning, I received this tweet:

So here's my daily 5 question...How is it better than what I'm doing now in K? Go :)

LOVE IT! Now, unfortunately, I got it right before my first graders returned from PE... but I've been contemplating it ALL day! For years, I struggled with what to do with my first graders while I met with groups and/or individuals for reading instruction. I've tried many things (read more about them here) but always had issues with children being off-task, not completing their work, and an incredibly noisy classroom. When I read The Daily Five, it all starting falling into place and making sense for me! From the last three years of using the Daily Five in my classroom, here is why I believe it's better than what you're doing now!
Children are engaged in reading and writing tasks for extended periods of time. Because we've practiced and practiced, I know that my first graders are accountable for what they should be doing at each Daily. I am confident in knowing that the time my children spend reading, writing, working with words, and listening to stories will help move them along in their literacy journeys.

Children are ONLY doing literacy tasks at this time. If I want to create readers, they need time to read. If I want writers, they need time to spell and write. While there is value in using math manipulatives and games, those are saved for our math block!

The "activities" stay pretty much the same throughout the year. Occasionally, I'll add something new (because I just learned about it on Twitter the night before!!) This places the focus on the "work" that children are doing and not the novelty of the new tools. Gail and Joan compare this to the Scientists' Lab or a Ballet Studio. The basic framework remains the same, but what the scientists or ballet dancers are working on changes throughout the year. The same holds true with the structure of the Daily Five. Yes, file folder games and sparkly pens are fun... but are they helping children attend to the task at hand?

My school brought in a trainer and held PD sessions on Debbie Diller's Literacy Stations. I know there is value to what she believes, but what I found is that it created TONS more work for the teacher. That time could be much better spent preparing for mini-lessons and small group instruction rather than who is going to which station each day. I have never been a fan of "worksheets," and I also found that this approach basically ended up as doing worksheets in different places around the room. I don't spend hours grading worksheets that were just used to keep children busy. Plus, when there is so much change in the week-to-week routine, how can children build their knowledge base?

The notion of building stamina with the Daily Five is H.U.G.E. I never understood that before, but I can tell you now... by taking the time to let children build their stamina and practice the behaviors that are expected, it makes for a great rest of the year! I play soft music (nature CDs are my favorite,) and can still hear the children who are sitting with me. It is a calm, yet very productive, part of our day!

I firmly believe in the power of choice! Because my children get to arrange their learning in a way that fits them, it increases motivation immensely! It also saves me the time of figuring out who should be in which group, who goes where, who works on what, blah, blah, blah. I'd much rather spend time cozied up with children around books we're enjoying together! As an adult, I also do much better in situations where I'm given on choices on what I learn and when. The same holds true for children! By keeping track of their choices, I still have the option of guiding those who need it.

After reading so much about the Daily Five, seeing Gail and Joan at workshops, and talking to them in person, I know their beliefs are based in what best practices are for literacy instruction. They've learned about brain research, literacy instruction, and so much more. All of this was taken into account as they created the Daily Five. I'm also able to tweak the Daily Five to meet the needs of my first graders each year and have implemented a whole group Read to Self time, in addition to the choice time.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is that my children truly love this time of the day! We did our first "choice" session just today, and immediately afterwards, I got bombarded with, "Can we do that again?!" Children love the relaxing, peaceful calm structure of this time of our day. Each year, the Daily Five has been among their favorite things about first grade. That is what it's all about! :)

So, Nicole... hope that helps! You know I'm always willing to share my thoughts and appreciate your questions! (That goes for everyone else, too!)

~Komos :)

P.S. I'm sure I'll think of a billion things I forgot to say... so I may update this post again!


  1. I'm glad I made you think, you always do the same for me. I'm going to think about this some more. I have The Daily 5 book but I've never read it. My current centers are working well which is probably why I haven't read the book. Hmmm lots to think about.

  2. I love this post!!!!!!!!

    My main reasons are:
    1. They are READING!
    2. They build stamina so they are engaged and on task
    3. It's EASY! No copying, preparing each week {I used to do centers before...so each Friday I had to copy and create new centers!!!}
    4. NO WORKSHEETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. I love the way you express your ideas. You are so clear and passionate. I am working hard to set up some of the Daily 5. This is my first year teaching first grade. I initially thought that I would just use read to self. But it's working SO well, that I keep thinking I should start implementing the rest of the plan. My kids talk about stamina and how they read books. What I've told them from Daily 5,they remember and use. They don't always remember other things.

  4. Thanks, ladies, for your feedback!! This is definitely something I'm very passionate about, and I truly enjoy sharing the Daily 5 love with others! It has made a great impact on my teaching, my students' learning, and has renewed my passion for literacy! :)

  5. Amen to the no worksheets. I"m a firm believer in daily 5! We are so excited for their first choice in just 1 week!

  6. How do you get around the learners who don't do anything unless there's a product for which they are held accountable?
    My class got bored with this in a week; they missed the integration of math, science and social studies into our reading program.

  7. Thanks for the comment, Mrs. M! I can't wait to hear more about how it's going for you.

    Thanks for the comment, Our Classroom Family! I'm surprised (and sad) to hear that Daily 5 didn't work for your class. I can honestly say that I haven't had students who didn't do anything during Daily 5. Even for my most challenging students over the past 3 years, they were able to stay on task and attend to the work at hand. If I did have those students, Gail and Joan have some fantastic techniques for handling "the barometer child."

    I also think that, naturally, there is some integration of math, science, and social studies into our Daily 5 independent work time. I've watched children write in their journals about the science or social studies topics we've been learning. I've seen children put nonfiction titles in their individual book tubs (Nonfiction is how I incorporate many science and social studies topics into our learning.) I've even watched some children counting and sorting words in their Word Work time. In my opinion, this is a natural way that all subject areas are integrated. I'm also integrating math exploring/independent work into our math block daily, so they don't miss out on that time.

    Thanks again for your comment! I appreciate you making me think further on this topic! :)

  8. I really like reading your blog and seeing all of the things you do in your classroom. That is why I am giving you the Versitle Blogger Award.

    Third Grade's a Charm

  9. I just gave you the same award!! You deserve it twice over!

    Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher

  10. Thanks, Julie and Nannette, for the award! I'm excited to share the Daily 5 love!

  11. A terrific answer to a terrific question. My class really enjoys our Daily 5 time and someone asks me every morning when we get to start! You gotta love that! I had never really thought about why it's better than what I used to do so thanks for making me think! At this point, I can't come up with any answers better than yours--except maybe adding that it's fun for me too. Loving your blog!!

  12. I've nominated you for the Versatile blogger award. Come by my blog to check it out. Thanks for all that you share.
    Thinking of Teaching

  13. Thanks for the comment and compliment, Mrs. Surridge!

    Thanks for the nomination, Beth!