Mrs. Landry's Land of Learning

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I’m sitting on my couch in fuzzy slippers wondering if my feet will ever feel good again.  But who cares?!  I made it through my first day of school as a teacher for the 10th time!!!!  WOOHOO!!!!  I’m still having a hard time realizing that 10 years ago, my first class of kiddos (2nd grade class back then) walked into my room and officially made me a teacher.  And now…get this…are you ready?



And yes I WILL be at graduation holding my class picture sobbing my eyes out with their mommas!  HAHA!

But I want to share something with you that I realized last night as I was making sure I was prepped and ready.  I even admitted it out loud today to one of our aides whose son was in that first group!  So here’s the big secret:

I was still just as nervous today as I was 10 years ago.  There.  Not only have I spoken the words, I have typed them as well.  I am not ashamed of this realization.  I’m embracing it!

So real quick (because I am DETERMINED to stay on top of paperwork this year and NOT get behind on things like I have in the past…HA!), here’s how my day went:

  • Original class list had 21 students.
  • Today it went down to 20 for all of 30 minutes and then went back to 21.
  • I MANAGED TO START DAILY 5 TODAY!!!!  (Yes I will be doing posts on my last 2 chapters to that book study that ended a few weeks ago.  I know.  Bear with me.  :))
  • My kiddos achieved 3 minutes of Read to Self stamina and they want to try for 4 minutes tomorrow!
  • I managed to stay mostly on time today.
  • I am still a clip chart user for now and that will be starting tomorrow but only to help lock in routines and expectations.
  • I have a GREAT bunch of kiddos!

Now I was so busy today that I didn’t take any pictures of my class.  Like at all.  The only pictures from today are of my daughter starting first grade in the room next to me.  And since I don’t have time to be a blubbering mess I’ll leave it at that.  😉

But I actually feel energized and inspired to keep going and get prepped for tomorrow.  My Daily 5 book is my guide through the unknown as I switch from my usual reading stations.  Fingers crossed I can do this.  I think I can.  I think I can.  I’m hoping that by the end of this week I can say I KNOW I can!

Well what about you?  Have you started school yet?  Are you trying something new?  How are you feeling about things right now at the beginning?  Please share and good luck!!

Happy Teaching!



Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 7

I’m almost done with this book!  I’m going to finish this book study!  Now that we have that out of the way, let’s see if I can get all this done BEFORE school starts on Monday.  😉 Chapter 7 was hosted by Cindy over at Mrs. Price’s Kindergators.  Click the image below to read her post and see the link up with other great posts.

D5 Book Study Chapter 7

I really liked the way the Sisters wrote this chapter.  The next choice should be introduced when independence and stamina are present.  For primary level students (that would be mine) that’s about 10-12 minutes doing Read to Self.  The Sisters suggest launching Work on Writing next.  But really I think you should pick the best order for you and your kiddos.

Work on Writing is not the same as writing workshop.  Writing workshop is concentrated and directed writing instruction.  D5 is student choice.  When it’s time to launch, do a new I chart.  Students will anticipate what to put based on what they know about Read to Self.  Once again, students demonstrate correct and incorrect procedures.  The it’s practice time.  Stop when there is a break in stamina.  Continue practicing the next few days.

Once stamina is reached introduce choice. The students tell whether they will do Read to Self or Work on Writing before each session.  This is called check-in.  This creates immediate focus. Once all choices are up list who will go to small group first.  This stops disappointment.  After BOY assessments are done, set goals with students.  Students will then voice their choice and how it helps their goal.  Now here’s a tip that makes sense- always call students in the same order to save time.

Read to Someone is often introduced last due to the amount of foundation lessons needed.  This helps increase comprehension, accuracy, fluency, expression, attention, and collaboration.  Just like the other options, you follow same steps when launching.

Listen to Reading provides good models of reading.  Use whatever technology is available.  Also, use those students who can help manage the tech.  It’s not as much an issue building stamina for this choice.  And not everyone does this or needs to.  It’s also typical for limited opportunities and options based on available tech.

Word Work focuses on spelling and vocabulary.  This choice need a lot of materials- whiteboards, magnetic letters, clay, letter stamps, shells, technology, colored markers are examples.  You can use whatever materials you want/have.  Also, use whatever words your school uses.  Now this was clearly stressed- Don’t skip any of the 10 Steps to Teaching Independence.  Discuss materials very carefully.  When practicing, you only need to do Word Work for 10 minutes.  This prevents playing.  Make sure students internalize the following: quiet set up and clean up; all those that use the materials help clean up; materials go back where they came from; leave them neat out of respect; get started quickly and quietly on Read to Self or Work on Writing when done.

This chapter really helped me with some fears and doubts I had about doing Daily 5 this year.  The Sisters have really thought through this whole process and laid it out for all teachers to be successful.  I just hope I can do this too!  Any tips for a newbie?  How was your first experience with starting Daily 5?  Tune back in real soon for chapters 8 and 9!

Happy Teaching!


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Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 6

Wow!  Sorry for that absence.  Between a little getaway with the husband, more family time, and FINALLY getting started in my room I kinda got off track.  But I’m determined to finish this book study no matter what.  So, without further ado, Chapter 6 Foundation Lessons!

This post is being hosted by Sarah’s First Grade Snippets.  Click the image below to read her take on this as well as others in the link up.  🙂

Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 6

The foundation lessons are the lessons you teach prior to each Daily 5 activity being launched.  Read to Self has already been started.  So what else do we have to do?

In Read to Self, you still need to teach how to choose a successful spot.  This is after the kiddos have done several rounds over several days and have been in different spots.  Discuss how choosing a spot does not mean being with a friend.  It means being in the best place for each student to work.

In Work on Writing, you need to teach the students how to underline words they don’t know how to spell and then move on.  After that, you are helping the students set up their notebook/folder (I think that comes down to teacher preference) and then choose what to write about.  The beauty about Daily 5 is that the students get to choose what they write during that time.  Yes, there will be focus lessons on specific types of writing and the students will, at least, start them.  During Daily 5, they may continue what they started during that day’s lesson, or work on something else.  Their choice!  Love it!

In Read to Someone you show students how to sit- EEKK.  Elbow, elbow, knee, knee.  I have another way.  If they both have the same book in their boxes, they can also sit shoulder to shoulder but facing the opposite ways. Their shoulders are touching and they can still look at each other’s books.  This also puts their voices right next to their partner’s ear.  Perfect solution for controlling those voices!  Voice level is also a lesson to teach prior to launching this choice.  As well as check for understanding, how partners read, how to get started, and how to choose a partner.  One lesson that I liked was coaching or time.  The student reading indicates if he needs time to figure out a word or if he wants a coach, or help from his partner.  I like that!

Listen to Reading requires the students to know how to work any electronics, clean them up, and share them if there is a limited number.  I know that in my Listening Station, I’ve had a cassette player, or a CD player, and then later an iPod Nano.  All of which required a lesson on how to operate.  And I could really tell when students either didn’t understand or I didn’t demonstrate enough because it was always a mess!  This year with the iPod, I plan to use my document camera to help show all the buttons.  Fingers crossed I get it this time!  Lol!

Word Work requires lessons on set up, clean up, choosing materials, and choosing a successful spot.  While these seem simple, I know from experience with learning stations that sometimes the simplest lesson on how to do something makes all the difference in the world.  It’s important to figure out how you want this choice to flow before introducing it.

Well there’s my take on this chapter!  Please go click the chapter image above to visit the link up and read from those with experience.  I’m providing thoughts and just getting this all figured out on my end.  Do you have experience with Daily 5?  If so, which of these foundation lessons did you find the most helpful for your class?  Any tips or tricks I should try?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Happy Teaching!

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Daily 5 Book Study: Chapter 5

Welcome back for the next chapter in Brenda from Primarily Inspired‘s awesome Daily 5 book study!  We are on Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self- The First Daily 5.  This chapter is being hosted by Jenny from Luckeyfrog’s Lilypad.

Daily 5 Book Study Chapter 5 Launching Daily 5

This is what tells you to do to get Daily 5 started.  It’s the first lessons for the first day of school.  After reading the whole chapter, I was like WHEW!  As I was reading, I was trying to see how the time segments actually worked with what they were saying to do.  Luckily, the back of the book are these awesome appendices and one includes a detailed sample schedule you could follow for the first days of school.  In the 90 minute reading time described, they crammed in so much!  I looked through it carefully, totally amazed at how they mapped it all out and realizing that it did indeed work.  Here is the low down:

  • Show 3 ways to read a book- read the pictures, read the words, retell the story
  • Introduce Read to Self using the 10 Steps to Independence (see this post for that chapter)
  • First practice session for Read to Self
  • I PICK good-fit books lesson- teaches students how to pick books for their book boxes using the following guidelines:
    • I select a book and look it over, inside and out.
    • Purpose: Why do I want to read it?
    • Interest: Does this interest me?
    • Comprehend: Do I understand what I am reading?
    • Know: Do I know most of the words?
  • Another practice session for Read to Self
  • Work on Writing foundation lesson- underline words you don’t know how to spell, and move on
  • Independent writing time
  • Read to Someone foundation lesson- check for understanding
  • Listen to Reading foundation lesson- set up for the technology
  • Word Work foundation lesson- set up and clean up of materials

I’ll say it again- WHEW!!  Now it was made clear that you may not get through all of this all in one day.  You may only get through the I PICK lesson.  And that’s totally okay.  But I’ve never done Daily 5.  So I have no idea how long things actually take or have any shortcuts/tips/tricks for making the first day work.  I’ll be learning this with my kiddos!

I also have another angle- I do have to follow my reading textbook.  We use Houghton Mifflin Journeys, Texas Edition.  We will be working on the Back to School lessons that first week.  So I’m going to work out where I’ll do Daily 5 lessons and where I’ll do Houghton Mifflin.  In the first chapter, the Sisters did say that this was a routine.  So I’m about to test that theory.  Also, I’m probably the only one on my campus to try this.  One other teammate of mine gave it a try while team teaching in 3rd grade, but it got too hard with having 2 classes in her room at one time.  She went back to Debbie Diller styled stations.  I’m on my own!

So, have you done Daily 5?  Do you have tips, tricks, shortcuts, or anything for that first day?  Have you had to implement Daily 5 while still following a set curriculum?  Please comment and share!  Help a sister out!

Happy Teaching!

Mrs. Landry

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Daily 5 Book Study- Chapter 4

I hope everyone had a great 4th of July!  Once again, I’m working my way through Primarily Inspired’s book study on The Daily 5.  Chapter 4 is being hosted by Pop into Primary with Mrs. Palmer and Ride Away with Mrs. Ridgway.  It’s all about what tools are needed to help make Daily 5 a success.  So let’s take a look.

The first things the Sisters suggest is a quiet signal.  They specifically said chimes as that’s worked for them.  But really as long as it’s a signal that is different from the regular, working noise that’s going on in the classroom and isn’t too startling, you could probably pick whatever you want.  Now let’s say your kiddos are having one of those days where the signal is not effectively getting their attention.  We’ve all been there!  Michael Grinder suggested an approach called, “Above, Pause, Whisper.”  Your signal should be a sound that can go above the classroom noise or just be different.  Give the signal, then pause.  Don’t do anything.  This should make the kiddos stand up and take notice.  Then whisper instructions.  Whispering requires the students to keep their noise levels down and really focus on what you have to say.  I’m trying to think of a good quiet signal for me.  I’ve used my classroom iPad- specifically the alarm clock.  The kiddos knew that when it went off, it was time to move on.  Something to consider again…Hmmm…

The next important item needed is chart paper or interactive whiteboard.  You decide, but you will use these to help record the I-charts at the launching of each Daily 5 choice.  I stands for independence.  These charts need to be permanently displayed so that they can be referred to throughout the year.  You pick what works best for you.  You can even use a piece of paper under a document camera.  🙂

The next suggestion is geared towards those “barometer” kiddos.  You know…those kiddos that set the tone for how the day is going to go.  They are generally the ones that will have the least amount of stamina to get through a round of Daily 5.  The important thing is to have tools ready to go to help make them successful.  But it’s important to point out, these are tools, not toys.  The Sisters suggested items such as sixty-second, ninety-second, and two-minute sand timers, small sandwich bags full of manipulatives such as pattern blocks and Legos, stopwatches, and alternative reading materials.  Also, we need to think about where these kiddos will work.  Having a few clearly defined spaces will help them stay in their areas as well as find a good workspace.  Break out the masking tape!

Book boxes are an essential part of Daily 5.  You need one for each student.  It can be anything from actual book/magazine boxes to cereal boxes covered in contact paper to large ziplock bags. You do what’s best for you and your space. The important thing is that students need to have a set of books just for them to read. While you have to initially pick them out, eventually the kiddos will select what books go in their boxes.

Now this is when the Sisters talked about classroom libraries and how they should have a wide range of books.  They talked about Allington and Cunningham (2007) suggested that primary classroom libraries have about 700 to 750 book titles and upper grades have about 400 titles.  Hello!  My eyeballs just about came out of my head!  Especially when the Sisters say their goal is 1000!!  YIKES!!  Now I’m not saying that because it’s crazy.  I know that I want a lot of books in my classroom library.  I don’t have very many at all in regards to what they are suggesting.  But to look at actual suggested numbers…well…it’s a little overwhelming.  But there are lots of different ways to get ahold of these books.  One thing I plan on doing is heading to my local used book store and seeing if they have any boxes of books they are looking to get rid of real cheap.  They sometimes have way more than they can sell.  Worth a shot!

Okay back to the list of needed items- you need a gathering place and focus lessons.  This gathering place needs to be big enough for all your kiddos to join you on the floor.  You need teaching materials/supplies to be able to conduct your short (around 10 minutes max) lesson.  The kiddos will come to know that after each round of D5, they go back to this place.  This place will let you be in the middle of all their conversations on what they are learning as well as help keep them focused.

Next up, I-charts.  Remember, these are what you will write out your expectations of each D5 choice.  One chart for each choice.  Post these around the room.  Easy enough!

Classroom design was the next thing.  Because you are going to do whole group lessons on the floor, the rest of the room is for independent work.  The Sisters suggested having different types of work spaces- low tables for floor work, tables with chairs, floor space with cushions, arm chairs, etc.  The design should be streamlined and inviting for all students to get work comfortably.  I don’t have much choice in what furniture is in my room.  I will have a desk for every student.  But I do plan to be very flexible as to where students work.  If one does well on the floor, that’s fine.  If one needs to be at a desk near the board, I can work with that.  If I had a say, I would have only tables.  Ah to dream a dream…

Now eventually, the kiddos will get to pick where they work.  But to start, you tell them where to go, telling them a different spot each time.  Now I know you’re asking, “When will I know it’s time to let the kiddos choose?”  The Sisters say when the kiddos tell us if a spot we put them in is good or not.  They claim that they will give good responses to this as long as we continue to discuss the importance of good work being done in areas most comfortable to them.  Sounds easy enough!

Well that’s it!  Go click on our hosts above to see what they have to say as well as link up with others.  Do you use Daily 5 already?  Do you do something for book boxes?  What about your quiet signal?  Please share below!

Happy Teaching!

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It’s Currently July!

Wow!  2 days in a row for me!  Twice in one week!  Definitely loooooooove being back!  And I love it when Farley does her Currently Linky!  Click her button below to go see her post as well as others!

Listening- My son is happily playing with whatever toys he can that makes as much noise as possible.  Definitely a boy in this household!  Lol!

Loving- Okay so at the end of the year, my house becomes SORELY neglected as I only concentrate on getting school finished.  Now that I can give it some TLC I’m loving that if someone walks in, there will be no dust bunny tumbleweeds blowing by.  😉

Thinking- Well as I type this the storm has started.  I’m in East Texas where it rained for literally the entire month of May.  Lots of flooding here.  And while the river is still very swollen and flooded, it’s been so hot that the plants need more rain.  So this storm is sort of welcome- waters the plants, cools things down, BUT keeps us stuck inside.  Luckily my kiddos are resourceful!

Wanting- So I kinda got the BEST gift during teacher appreciation week.  It’s kinda a free massage for 1 WHOLE HOUR!!!!  It helps that my student’s momma owns the place, ya know.  Now I’m really wanting to make my appointment and enjoy an hour of nothing but ME.  Just gotta get the kiddos situated…

Needing- Okay so the entire house isn’t clean.  We won’t discuss the master bedroom, bathroom, or our study.  The study is our next big project.  While I’m all for working in comfort, I do actually enjoy sitting at my desk to work; not on my couch hunched over the coffee table.  So yeah, that is our next big to do.  Then I’ll be able to start organizing files that are long overdue for it and getting ready next year.

All Star- So my next door neighbors are going through a sad time right now.  They have been awesome, awesome neighbors for us.  We help each other out- watch pets, get mail while on vacation, etc.  Well now I’m just working to be there when they need us.  Not pushing, nagging, showing up all the time.  Just being a presence.  And you know what? It’s working.  This is not the first time I’ve done this.  It’s just nice that it works.

What are you currently up to?  See what I did there?!  Hahaha!

Happy Teaching!


Daily 5 Book Study- Chapter 3

I’m back with chapter 3 of The Daily 5 book study!  This book has really been making me think and analyze how I want next year to go.  Hmmmm…Decisions, decisions.  But first, let’s take a look at this chapter.  It’s being hosted by Whitney at The CraZy Schoolteacher.

The Sisters referred to these 10 steps as part of their core beliefs.  But as you are about to see, this last core belief definitely needed their own chapter.  THIS is what is going to get your through implementing Daily 5.

1.  Identify what is to be taught.

Do this not only for yourself, but for your students too.  If your students have prior knowledge/experience with D5, knowing that they are about to learn about Read to Self (as an example), they know what to expect.  Even if they don’t know anything, being told what is going to be taught sets them up.  The Sisters use “I”-charts as anchor charts for each of the choices.  This helps show students what they will be learning about.

2.  Set a purpose and create a sense of urgency.

This step helps students learn that “every moment of learning and practicing counts.” (pg. 37)  The I-chart helps do this- list the reasons they will do each choice.  One of those reasons is because it’s fun.  Hello!  Interest grabbed!

3.  Record desired behaviors on an I-chart.

Each D5 choice will have its own I-chart.  One thing the Sisters really cautioned on is don’t get caught up in telling students what not to do.  Tel them what to do.  Also, the Sisters learned that, while it’s nice having students help generate the list of what should be done at each choice, younger students in particular come up with almost too many suggestions.  Many are the same as others or just too detailed and too numerous to discuss.  As you are writing these out, you are explaining each one.  Now they will provide the desired behaviors for us to list and explain.  Also, if your know your students need a slower pace, start off with only one or two.  Then with each subsequent practice session add one or two more.  Easy!

4.  Model most-desirable behaviors.

Have students do this.  Easy!  🙂

5.  Model least-desirable behaviors, then most-desirable behaviors again.

An awesome tip the Sisters gave- pick a student who you know is an attention getter/often off task type person to demonstrate this.  By having this type of student show what not to do and then do it correctly, they get to be center of attention and they start developing that muscle memory that’s going to help with being independent later.  Makes sense!  Always refer to the I-chart to show how the student is/is not following it.

6.  Place students around the room.

You place them the first few times.  And place them in a different place each time.  This way, students learn where they can go and they start to figure out which places will help them work the best.  When placing students during the practice time, do the ones most likely to lose stamina last so that they don’t get squirmy before you can get your kiddos set up.  Makes sense!  (Don’t know about y’all, but sometimes being reminded of simple tips/strategies is a must for me with all the other “stuff” we gotta remember!)

7.  Practice and build stamina.

We need to let go and let them do it.  Let them practice.  Keep track of how long students can demonstrate those desirable behaviors on the I-chart.  Showing their stamina on a chart shows how they improve.  It will also show that some days may not be good.  But they should always try again the next time.

8.  Stay out of the way.

Okay.  I confess.  This would be hard for me.  I would be so tempted to circle the room and look at what the kiddos are doing.  Don’t.  Do.  It.  You won’t be doing that when it’s time to bring in small groups.  So why do it now?  Go sit somewhere out of the way.  No eye contact.  No nodding your head.  Nothing.  But be aware of what the students are doing.  You need to look for those students who are going to have the lowest stamina as they will determine when you stop the group.

9.  Use a quiet signal to bring students back to the gathering place.

When we see a student has no more stamina, it’s time to give that quiet signal that I’m sure you’ve already introduced to get their attention.  Making sure it’s quiet and not overly loud keeps the kiddos on the calm side.  Don’t say anything about how the students did.  Just get them back to the whole group area.

10.  Conduct a group check-in; ask, “How did it go?”

Go down the list of expected behaviors on the I-chart and ask the students how they did on each one.  Have them show fingers in front of them to model this:

1- below standard

2- approaching standard

3- meeting standard

4- exceeding standard

This will help students think about how they did and start to set goals for the next round of D5.  The Sisters pointed out too that students do not need to vocalize anything.  Remind them that this is for themselves to think about rather than sharing it.  We can see how they did on their fingers.  Thank you for this!  Also, for those students who show fingers that in no way reflects how they did, ignore them.  They are usually seeking attention.  If the behavior continues, you might need to do a one-on-one discussion with that student.  Again, thank you for that tip!

After check-in, you decide if your students are okay with another round of practice or if they need to move on to something else.  Check-in later evolves to students telling what their new goals are.  Also, it’s a good time to review the I-charts as needed.  You decide.  🙂

Well there you have it!  Needless to say I highlighted.  A lot.  And I’ll be going back to jot down some notes.  Or a lot.  I tend to overdo the highlighting and note taking thing.  It’s a quirk of mine.  Lol!  If you click on the picture above, you’ll be at Whitney’s post and the link-up to read other great teachers’ thoughts on this chapter.  Let me know what you think below.

Happy Teaching!

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Daily 5 Book Study- Chapter 2

Whew!  I actually thought I was going to be late for this one!  Luckily this chapter was a very fast read so I am still on track with it.  That’s a summer goal, btw.  To stay on track with this book study and really learn about Daily 5 and see if it will work for me and my new group of firsties.  Yeah… 😉

Ciera at Adventures of Room 129 is hosting this one.  So chapter 2 was all about the core beliefs behind Daily 5:

  • Trust and respect
  • Community
  • Choice
  • Accountability
  • Brain Research
  • Transitions as Brain and Body Breaks

First up, trust and respect.  We all want our students to trust us and respect us.  We work to show them the same in return.  Basic curtesies we should be giving all human beings, right?  But what about in respects to how our students work in our classroom?  Do you really trust your students to take care of their part while you do yours?  Do you trust your students to make the best selections for themselves and do their work while you are working with a small group or one-on-one?  This is a big thing for me.  I have bounced back and forth on the concept of allowing my students to have free choice in my literacy stations or not.  My reasoning is based on each group.  I have felt, in the past, that some could be trusted with choice and others couldn’t.  The Sisters realized that they needed to explicitly teach their students to make good choices and do what needs to be done.  They had to trust that the students will learn and acquire these skills through lots of guided practice and direct instruction.  My thoughts on this- They are right.  I have always known that my students are capable of a lot.  I don’t do a lot of little tasks for them like some other teachers I work with do.  They feel that their students are not capable of those.  But I know that students can be taught.  So why am I not applying this consistently to my literacy teaching?!  Or math for that matter!  They said in the first chapter, Daily 5 is a structure, a routine to follow.  I’m good at teaching those!  So I need to learn to trust my students to learn the routines and then use those routines to independently make their own choices.  I can do that, right?

Next up was community.  From the very first day of school we all work to foster a community of learning in our classroom.  We want all our students to be respectful of each other in regards to their educational differences.  With the right type of classroom culture in place, students will help each other stay within the routines and hold each other accountable.  An example was given of a student reminding another one who was being disruptive of what he/she is supposed to be doing during that independent work time.  It wasn’t done rudely or in a way to criticize.  It was done to help the other student.  Peer to peer help.  Thankfully, I’ve had that happen in my classroom before and it’s such a good feeling to know that my kiddos care for each other.  I’ll definitely be keeping that up!

Third was choice.  Oh boy.  A big one for me.  Like I said above, I’ve bounced back and forth with letting students have choice or not.  To be honest, that was when I taught second grade.  When they could read a lot more on their own and needed less directions.  I haven’t really, truly tried this with my first grade kiddos.  Why not?  To be honest I’m not really sure.  I’m not that much of a control freak that I feel the need to direct every movement in my classroom.  I mainly wanted to make sure the students had equal opportunity to get to each station activity and they knew what was coming next.  A structure, routine.  But this book reminds us that when students get to choose what work they do and even where they do it, they are much more engaged and inclined to do it well.  Yeah…going to work on that one.

Accountability was next.  Now this section I really wanted to see.  The last couple of years, I have felt like my students were not completing their station activities correctly unless I had them complete recording sheets and turn them in.  I held them accountable.  Well I felt like this section was linked with the trust and respect one.  Accountability isn’t in a completed piece of paper (I learned that real quick).  It’s having the students engaged in the work and spending their time wisely.  But you don’t get this unless it is directly taught.  Are you noticing a pattern here?  I sure did.  The Sisters have said several times that it all comes down to how we teach them.  We must teach them how to pick a good working spot, how loud their voices must be if they need a voice, etc.  We must show them everything.

Brain research was fifth.  This focused on what was developmentally appropriate for age level you teach.  “It was Wesson who originally taught us the rule of thumb that would change the results of our lessons: The average number of years our children are in age parallels the average number of minutes they can maintain attention during direct instruction– whole group, small group, or one-on-one– as measured by PET scans.” (pg. 28)  That sounds about right.  This is way the Sisters have made the whole group instruction segments no more than 10 minutes.  Our little darlings cannot sit for longer than that and actually learn something.  We’ve all seen it!  Also, we should be allowing for way more practice time than teaching time.  The rule of 20/80 was given.  “Twenty percent of our time should be spent teaching our children based on their immediate needs, as guided by individual assessments.  Eighty percent of students’ time must be spent on practicing the skills and concepts introduced during their instruction, using books and writing they choose.” (pg. 30).  As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

The final principal discussed in this chapter was transitions as brain and body breaks.  Yes yes yes!  I had already been thinking the same thing as these super smart ladies!  Hoowah!  Okay I’m required to teach from my teacher basal and I have been faithful to that.  However, I quickly realized how my students, second or first grade, could not sit still the whole time.  Even I couldn’t!  So looked at the lesson flow as laid out by the basal and found ways to chunk it and get my students moving.  I do parts on the floor and parts at their desk.  I try to incorporate body movements when we practice words.  I have even stopped a lesson entirely just for a good stretch session (now I use Go Noodle…but that’s for a later post!).  The Sisters and I were on the same wave length.  When they notice their class not able to maintain their stamina and keep working, they call for clean up and to regroup as a class.  The physical act of putting things away and going to their meeting place helps refresh the kiddos.  They do more movements as needed as well.  So I got one thing right already!  Haha!  🙂

Well that’s chapter 2.  Please go stop by Ciera’s blog, Adventures of Room 129, to read what others had to say.

Happy Teaching!

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Daily 5 Book Study- Chapter 1

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I have missed this little space I call The Land of Learning.  But that little thing called Real Life sort of took over.  But let me just say that I have missed writing on this blog and all the heavy blog stalking reading I used to do.  It’s time to get back in the game.  I need to be refueled and so over the top excited about what I do and yet still be a wife and mommy.  Basically I’m looking for the best of both worlds.  To get me started, a summer book study.  Let’s begin!


Let me start out by saying that when I started teaching 10 years ago (still not believing that!!) I was exposed to the Debbie Diller mode of reading stations.  While I was student teaching, the reading coach at the school I was assigned to loaned me her book.  I loved it.  When I got my first position at my current (and only) school, they also used Debbie Diller.  Perfect.  I was already set to get going.  Truthfully it works for me.  I have tweaked and added to it.  But it works.

Then I started blog stalking reading and I started hearing about The Daily 5.  Hmmmm…The more I read about it from the blogging teachers, the more I wondered about it.  But I still really liked the way I had stations going.  Also, that first year I heard about it, I was having a FABULOUS year with a GREAT group of firsties and everything was clicking.  Yeah…I miss that…Sigh…

This first chapter mainly had to do with how Daily 5 has evolved and changed since the first edition came out in 2006.  It still covered the reasons the Sisters created Daily 5- how to get all aspects of literacy teaching to fit in set block of time.  Basically, they seemed to have found a way to have it all- all students engaged in true literacy activities that encourages growth regardless of whether or not they are with the teacher or on their own.  Finally!

Now one thing that really got my attention is when they said that all the Daily 5 areas do NOT need to be done EVERYDAY.  Thank goodness!  The Sisters also talked about how the rounds will shift in the amounts of time based on my students’ stamina.  They actually show that we need to shoot for less rounds.  But each round has a longer amount of time.  This I can work with!  This whole chapter simply showed how they were able to revise and make their already good system even better.

I’m going to end with a quote from their book that is really sticking with me and I’ll explain why:

It is important to remember that the Daily 5 is simply a framework and does not hold any curriculum content.  It is about creating instructional routines with students through focused teaching, student modeling, and practice.  Daily 5 also helps students build stamina, develop independence, and make successful choices.” (pg. 20)

Why this matters to me- I teach in a district that mandates that I must use my basal.  I must follow it and get my grades from it.  While I know that the best way to use Daily 5 is without such restrictions, I don’t have that option right now.  So I’m really going to test this.  My objective is to see if Daily 5 can work for my classroom based on what I have to follow.

I linked up with Primary Inspired for this study.  Go check out her post and other great posts from other great blogs!

Happy Teaching!

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Currently August

Wow.  It’s August.  I think this meme pretty much sums up how teachers feel about August…

Fun in First had that on her FB page and I was like YES!  But while that may make us depressed to a point, it’s also exciting.  New kiddos!  I’m ready for a great year after the slightly rocky, not quite there year I just had.  So I’m working to get myself PUMPED UP!

And while I ‘m at it, I’m linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for the August Currently!

Listening- My 7 week old (yikes!!!!) is starting to sleep in longer stretches through the night.  Yay!  So while he’s sleeping I’m blogging.  The sound of him breathing as he sleeps is just so sweet.  Sigh… 🙂

Loving- This is awesome!  It didn’t look like I was going to be able to get into my classroom until after the 12th so yeah…I’m EXCITED!

The rest pretty much speaks for itself.  🙂  So click the button below and go read more great Currently posts!

Happy Teaching!


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