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! :)

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! :)