Mrs. Landry's Land of Learning

A place dedicated to learning for ALL students!

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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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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Teach Like a Pirate Chapter 3-Rapport

So once again I’m back with the book study of Dave Burgess’ book Teach Like a Pirate!  So…  Aaaargh you ready?

So chapter three is r in pirate- rapport.  I will say, that reading this chapter reaffirmed what I do in my classroom in this area of teaching.  Let me explain.  Burgess starts out talking about how his class is so different and the reasons he doesn’t have behavioral issues that other teachers do- engagement.  His students are engaged in what they are doing in his classroom.  But you can’t get to that stage until your students feel comfortable with you.  That’s where rapport comes in.

You need to find out their interests and use those to create lessons that grab their attention and hold it.  When it comes to rapport, we need to remember that our kiddos are people, just like us.  I think we forget that when we get too buried in what’s happening in our room.  Our kiddos are people.  We need to get to know them as people if we really want to reach them and teach them.

“Kids can tell the difference between teachers who only seem to care about them when they are sitting in the classroom, and those who see past the ‘student’ to the unique person who resides inside.”  (pg. 21)

Now I will say that getting to know my kiddos takes time for me.  I will be working this year to do more activities in the first week of school that gives me more direct information.  But I will say this- I know a lot of teachers who follow the rule of no smiling before Christmas.  Rule with an iron fist until then.  I don’t follow that.  I smile.  I laugh.  If I make a mistake or something goes wrong I say, “Oops!” and we move on.  I work to get to know my students through our small group work and just watching and observing.  While that has worked for me, I realize from this chapter that I need to do more direct investigations.  So I’ll be combing TPT and Pinterest for great ideas.  🙂

Burgess then talks about how he runs his first three days of class.  But before he does, he starts out with this statement:

“No content standard matters to me until I have established the safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment I need to successfully teach my students.”  (pg. 22)

I’m going to say wow.  I wish I could take luxury like that.  This past year, I had to have my kiddos already functioning in math stations of some sort so I could start my beginning of the year math benchmarks on the third day of school!  Yes you read that right.  Now fortunately I had a great class that made that possible.  So it was no big deal.  But I’ve had other groups where that was not going to happen on this universe at all!  But I did get to exercise this thought this past year with a student and I really want to share that with you (I have full permission from the parents to do so).

I had a new student coming to me after we got back from Christmas.  This was at the end of January beginning of February time.  While a new student is no big deal, I’ve had them before, her circumstances were definitely different.  She had only been home schooled.  She had never been to a public school at all.  So the counselor and I thought it best to tell my kiddos ahead of time so that they would not swarm her or anything.  So I did and the kiddos promised to give her space and help her as needed.  Well the new girl came the following week and we got started.  First week was good.  I thought.

She was doing okay and seemed to be meshing well with my class.  Then the weekend came and then Monday.  No new girl.  Okay.  Tuesday.  Absent again.  Then when she did start coming, she was late and it was all they could do to get her to come. It had started.  She panicked.  While I tried hard to be diligent about her needs and remember that she was not used to school, I still, somehow, missed something.  The mom was ready to pull her out as my poor kiddo was getting sick every morning and just would not come at all.  The parents wanted to stay the course but worried if it was the right thing.  I promptly got on the phone with them asked what they ultimately wanted for her.  They said to go to school.  I said then let’s find a way to make that happen.  I told them my only priority for their child for the rest of this year was to get her at school every day, all day.  Academics would come second.

So I sent them to the principal to see about reducing her hours.  I got a visual schedule from the counselor for her and we started.  She also could have a security toy in her backpack and I had 2 reliable kiddos be ready to help her as needed.  Well it was a bumpy start and she was constantly coming up and asking me when she was going home (which was at our lunch time) and that she missed her mom or felt sick.  I stayed patient and kept redirecting her to her schedule, her toy, or to get a trash can if she felt bad.  Bottom line, we made her stay for her shortened time.  Now I will say that just as we got this started, I was moving back into my house after our renovations were done (read about why here) and she did not take that real well.  The school ended up calling me so I could talk to her (while on my knees scrubbing my floor) and reassure her I would be back as soon as I took care of my family.  It worked.  She stayed.

After a couple of weeks, she was ready to stay longer.  So we slowly increased her time.  After a month, we had her in all day and no longer being sick.  Yes!  Her grades were just fine (like we already predicted) but I wasn’t concerned about that.  I made sure the counselor knew my plans and she was good with that. By the last day of school, the girl was a pro!  I’m so proud of her and I know she’ll nail second grade.  But bottom line, she would not have gotten there if I had not built up that rapport with her.  Now she calls me her best friend and is nervous about the future.  But I know she’ll be fine.  Besides, her mom has my number if they need me.  😉

What Burgess describes for his first 3 days were his techniques of building rapport with his students and getting them engaged with him.  After that, he was ready to teach.  Just like my special girl, we all need that with our kiddos.  Burgess says it best with this:

“I’m selling education…a life-altering product that can transform the human spirit and literally change the world one student at a time.  Surely, such a product is worthy of any and all efforts, techniques, and methods required to successfully persuade.”  (pg. 32)

I agree Mr. Burgess.  I agree.  So what do you do?  How do you establish rapport with your kiddos?  Have you had a special situation like mine that required a different approach?  Please share!  Oh and check out these other great posts and this chapter (just click the buttons)!

Thinking Out Loud

Happy Teaching!

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Teach Like A Pirate Chapter 2- Immersion

I’m breaking a blogging rule- posting twice in 1 day.  But in my defense, my Five for Friday was supposed to be on Saturday.  So there you go!  Now…Aaaarrgh!

As has become my habit, I’m behind on this here book study.  But I’m thankful in that not only is this an awesome read, it’s an EASY read.  I mean like you can’t help but be engaged in the book.  So it won’t be hard for me to catch up.  Hopefully.  😉  But I’m veering from topic…

So Chapter 2 is called Immersion and it’s the letter i in Pirate.  This chapter talks about being more than just present and teaching from the front of the room.  It’s about being totally consumed and involved in the learning WITH your students.  Nothing else matters.  Just your kiddos, you, and the knowledge you want to give them.  And you know what?  The kiddos know when we’re immersed in our jobs and when we’re not.  Dave puts it best when he says, “An instructor who is fully immersed in the moment has a special type of intensity that resonates with great power in the classroom, regardless of the activity.” (pg. 16)  Need I say more?  This is how you’re going to engage those uninterested and struggling kiddos into at least trying.

Burgess explains how not being immersed is what can cause us to miss those “teachable moments.”  You know what I’m talking about.  Those moments that just happen when we least expect them and they become a powerful lesson for both you and your kiddos.  You just hop on the train and ride it to see what happens.  And usually, magic happens.  It’s a thing that stays with you for a long time.  Burgess says it best here:

“The teachable moment is called that because if you wait it will be gone!  It’s OK to surrender your structure in the pursuit of something far more valuable in the moment.” (pg. 18)

Now a show of hands…How many of us needed that permission?  How many of us needed that reminder as to why we love to teach?  I’ve been getting those reminders a lot lately through the great blogs I follow and read (seriously!) and reading that just reaffirmed that while I need my structures and routines, I also need to be okay with abandoning them on those special occasions where greater learning and enlightenment will occur.  Burgess affirmed this in one of the last sentences of this chapter:

“Having the right structure and using your time in the classroom effectively allows you the flexibility to let ‘the moment’ happen without any sense of guilt.” (pg. 18)

Hello!!!!  Thank you!!  I’ve had it happen before to me and I loved following the path of whatever was going on with my class and so did my kiddos!  They would go home bursting about it and the parents were always amazed at the intensity in how the kiddos responded to it.  So was I!  And thankfully, I was able to use that moment as a motivation for keeping my kiddos in their structure when we needed it.  They became even more comfortable with me, the room, each other, and we became more than just a class.  We became a family.  I hope I am able to immerse myself even more this year and get that feeling back!

So that’s the end of Chapter 2.  I’m going to work on Chapter 3 and so on in the days coming as well as work on the other book study I’m participating in.  Oh and I’ve just got to say this…So after I read and highlight, I go back and take notes on my iPad about what I’ve read to help me really make sure I’ve understood what I read.  Well I find myself copying down quotes like the ones I’ve shared with you because, quite frankly, Burgess says it best and in such a way that you can only use his words.  I could make a book of quotes with a whole chapter just devoted to him!  That’s how I’m being inspired.  What about you?  How immersed are you?  Do you need to work on “swimming” with your kiddos instead of just supervising?  Please share!  And check out these hosting posts to see other thoughts on this chapter.

Happy Teaching!


Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 1

So I’m not as horribly late with this book study as I am with the other one!  The pirate one is moving fast as it’s a very fast read.  This one has got TONS of great information in it!  I’m now only a couple of chapters behind so I think I can catch up with this and then work to catch up the other one.  Trying to keep the small child occupied coupled with I get distracted with another cleaning/organizing project in my house as kept me away from my books.  But anyways…

So Beth at Thinking of Teaching and Brenda over at Primary Inspired are hosting this awesome book study!  Let me tell you, this first chapter had me hooked and already mentally apologizing to my past students for not making connections sooner about how to better teach math.  There’s so much information I have to read it and highlight, tab important pages and make a list of those tabs for easy referencing, and then (here’s the crazy part), I’m outlining the chapter on my iPad in the notes app.  Why?!  Well I’m determined to learn.  Not just read and go, “Okay that’s over.”  This is how I learn.

So chapter 1 is all about how reading and math are alike in so many ways and how the comprehension strategies we use in reading can and should be used in math to help students generate more in depth meaning.  Sammons discussed some studies that led to this current math education reformation and how it stemmed from the reading one.  In all these studies and analysis of American students versus other participating countries, the concept of “mathematical literacy” was defined.  This really stuck out to me:

“…students should be able to put mathematics to a functional use.  They should have the ‘ability to analyze, reason, and communicate ideas effectively as they pose, formulate, solve, and interpret solutions to mathematical problems in a variety of situations or contexts’ (OECD 2006)” (pg. 19)

Wow!  We’re supposed to teach students to do all that!  When you look at it that way, it makes sense that strategies would need to be put in place to help students in working towards this goal.  Sammons lays out what the strategies are, what is composed of explicit instruction, and a whole process of teaching those strategies in a math setting.  Thanks goodness!

So the comprehension strategies she listed are:

  1. Making connections.
  2. Asking questions.
  3. Visualizing.
  4. Making inferences.
  5. Determining importance.
  6. Synthesizing.
  7. Monitoring meaning.

This is what the students need to learn to do in various combinations.  I’ll be honest and say that numbers 2, 4, and sometimes 6 and 7 were hard for me growing up.  I can do it with first grade level work now (you would hope!) but it took teaching these strategies before I really understood them.  Math was hard for me.  Problem solving and critical thinking was hard for me.  Ask my mother.  It was a constant battle.  I relied on learning processes (step-by-step formulas) and such to get me through.  I want my students to have much more than that.  These strategies will give them more than that.

Now, in order for this to happen you need to explicitly instruct your students.  Now this is something I think we all learn in college when starting to write lesson plans, but it was still so nice to see it laid out in this book and explained.  Again.  Hey…8 years is a long time to be doing this (at least for me)!  You forget things!  😉

The steps to explicit instruction are on page 31 and are as follows:

  1. Teacher explains what the strategy is.
  2. Teacher explains why the strategy is important.
  3. Teacher explains when to use the strategy.
  4. Teacher models how to perform the strategy in an actual context while students observe.
  5. Teacher guides students as they practice using the strategy.
  6. Students independently use the strategy.

Oh!  Something I want to point out!  Before you can even start this process with your kids- Sammons states several times in this chapter that YOU  as the TEACHER must have an understanding of the strategies you are teaching and must be concise in how you teach them.  Now that means for me, some studying beforehand.  I use some of the strategies without thinking about them.  So I need to make sure I think about them so I can explain them well.  But others, not so much.  Bottom line- know what you are talking about!

Okay back to the list.  So something that really stuck out to me was the fact that when you’re at number 4 (and Sammons points this out specifically), don’t involve the kiddos in doing the work!  They watch!  Hello!  We all know that.  But like I said before, we can forget things.  So I know that I’m going to make sure they watch me first and THEN they get start doing it with me and then on their own.  While it may seem simple enough, I think it’s good that we work to be consciously aware of what we are doing with our kiddos and trying to be doing things on purpose.

So these are my thoughts on this chapter!  I probably got more but I don’t want to bore y’all and I really want to move on to chapter 2.  I really recommend this book.  It’s totally helping me already and I don’t even have a class yet!  So Brenda and Beth also hosted this chapter so I highly suggest reading their thoughts on it.  They are good ones!  Just click their buttons below to go to the posts.  So what do you think about all this?  Please share!

Thinking of Teaching

Happy Teaching!


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