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! :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rethinking...

Well... I think I've been in denial. I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to admit it. But it's happening, and I can't continue to ignore it. Out of the corner of my eye today as I met with a small group, I watched my "teams" of word work kids playing. Not just one group of two. At least three. It's not the first day this has happened.

We've revisited Word Work and have reflected on why we should be working the whole time. We've talked to each other about how distracting it is when others are loud during our Daily 5 time.

So, for now... I'm going back to solo Word Work. I'm happy we gave it a whirl. I still believe learning can (and should) be built on collaboration. However, I'm going to go back to my original Daily 5 beliefs in that this time of our day is a time for individuals to practice their reading and writing. In the limited time we have, I have to be confident that my first graders are focused and on task as they work.

There will still be opportunities for partner work (in Listen to Reading and Read to Someone,) but for me, Word Work is going back to a solo journey. In time, I may rethink this and revisit how to make it work again. I'm reminding myself that this is not a failure but a learning opportunity!

~Komos :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Almost... ALMOST there!

It's the end of our ninth week of school today. We are almost... ALMOST... in full swing with the Daily Five!

Our Daily Five wall
My goal was to have everything in place, up and running, by the end of October. We are pretty much right on track for that to happen! I keep telling myself that this is my 4th year using Daily Five, so I should be able to do this sooner than my first couple of years (January, Thanksgiving, and November conferences.)

I've been more relaxed this year about the noise level in our classroom. I've also let them work with partners for Word Work, which I've never done before. Thanks to my Twitter PLN, I've changed my thinking this year and understand that some of us need to collaborate when we learn. :)

Yesterday, we created our I-chart for Read to Someone and practiced for the first time. We made it 3 minutes and probably could've gone longer had it not been lunch time! We revisited the chart today and talked about choosing books and choosing a spot to read. We made it 5 minutes today but did have to chat about sitting EEKK and using quiet reading voices.

On Monday, the plan is to learn how we choose partners. For the first few times, I've "assigned" partners. Now, they'll learn how we ask each other to be partners. It will sound like this:

Reader 1: "Will you please be my partNER?" (emphasis on last syllable adds to positive tone of question)
Reader 2: "Of course!!!!!" (emphasis on happily accepting the invitation!)

After partners are chosen, one partner picks the book and the other chooses the spot. Right now, we're reading from our Harcourt anthologies. We haven't used them for other reading so we could save them for this kind of reading. Eventually, we'll expand our reading choices once we've gotten used to the format of Read to Someone.

My first graders are VERY excited that we are so close to having the Daily Five all in place... and that we are right on track to meet our goal!!

~Komos

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Slow and steady finishes the race!

We're five weeks into our year together. When we return on Monday, it's October 3rd. Slowly, ever so slowly... we're learning routines, building stamina, and setting the stage for what the rest of our year will entail. My thoughts are jumbled this morning, but I think some of them are worth sharing!

I've trained my first graders to know we're finished with a session when I shake my little "egg shaker." It's a very quiet, unobtrusive sound... to match what our room sounds like during our sessions. I would love to have chimes but haven't found an affordable set yet. Plus, after 3 years, I'm used to the sound of the egg shaker! ;)

After many conversations and lots of reading on Twitter, I'm easing up on the noise level during our Daily 5 time. As a teacher, I'm not usually a stickler for a silent classroom. In fact, I thoroughly enjoy the excited buzz of voices. However, during Daily 5 time, I've made it more or less a silent time in our room. What does this do for collaboration? Well, it more or less eliminates it. Other than Read to Someone and Listen to Reading time, my first graders work alone. How does this foster engagement and working with others? It doesn't. So I'm easing up. If children are quietly chatting about what they're writing or reading, who am I to "hush" those conversations? If children want to work with a partner while they make their focus words out of magnetic letters, why not? I'm hoping this will continue to be a calm, quiet(er) part of our day but am trying to build my stamina for allowing a bit more noise! (Truth be told, I'm sure my need for silence goes back to the days of crazy loud centers while I was trying to meet with guided reading groups!!)

We've already established Read to Self, Work on Writing, and now, Listen to Reading, as choices during our Daily 5 sessions. This coming week, we'll begin building stamina for Word Work. Because children have already pre-learned how to use many/most of the Word Work materials, I am guessing it won't take long to establish the necessary stamina to add it to our daily choices. Time will tell!

If all goes well, Read to Someone will be the last one introduced the following week. This puts us right on track for my goal of having Daily 5 up and running by the end of October. However, should my first graders start losing stamina or need to slow it down again, by all means, I will honor their needs! My ultimate goal is not to throw everything at them and have to revisit/relearn later. Ultimately, I want these behaviors to stick throughout the year. Slow and steady is what will finish our "race." :)

~Komos :)