Three weeks into the new school term and Daily Five is beginning to take shape in my classroom. I am still finding my way and I still have questions, however I think that when I begin to grasp the way it works and how I might operate within it, it is going to be all I hoped.
The actual design of the classroom, with many of the desks removed to the storage dungeon, on the whole is working well. The main drawback is that I have allotted places around the room for students to store their books and pencils etc., at times there are bodies all trying to get to the same place at the same time. So we are learning about waiting and taking turns, rather than walking on top of one another, ( as one student does)!
The students like the layout, and there were many dropping jaws and visitors from the next room coming in to see what had happened in Room four, on the first day back. Just a week ago, after school, Sandy, a teacher from the other end of our long corridor came in and exclaimed, “Where are all your desks?” With glee, I told her what I had done with them.
I now have Reading to Self, up and running successfully. This was not difficult as the students were already reading for 20 minutes of self-choice reading in the day. However I went through the Daily Five introduction and we practiced doing it correctly, incorrectly and correctly! Writing was next on the list and we went through the same process, followed by Working with Words.
At present I am working on Reading to Someone. We are at the stage of building the I chart and practising it. By the end of the week I hope it will be there as a choice. I am a little nervous of this one, as it will introduce more sound into the room, so I think I will need to take my time with it. At a class level where students are 10 to 13 years old perhaps it could be argued it isn’t a needed skill. That most of them are fluent readers. However not all of them are, and those that are, do not necessarily have the expression and variety of a good oral reader. I will probably request that it be chosen two times in the week and observe how that goes.
Listening will be introduced this week and up and running by next week. I am not going to make this a compulsory aspect as I think it will appeal to those it needs to, and less to those who don’t need it so much. However I do believe we all benefit from being read to, and I won’t stop anybody from making the choice. I have used Ministry listening materials, and have also collected some other places the students might go in my Livebinder. We have another time in the day when we all listen to a story together. At present we are listening to The Lion Boy by Zizou Corder.
This week I am aiming for four days using Daily Five. Because I am giving more time than I might normally to Literacy, I am keeping Friday to cover other aspects of the curriculum. I am giving a ten minute input, and then students choose what they are going to work on. On a good day I hope to have four input sessions, followed by four choice sessions. As all teachers know, not every day is a good day. Take tomorrow there are school photos! Tuesday the students are off to technology and so it goes….
The hardest aspect for me to organize I think will be how I spend that time while the students are involved in their choices. At present I am using it to Running Record some students to find out what would be good next steps for them. I am also meeting individually with writers, and I am beginning to grasp that. However once I start integrating group times, it will be something else to juggle. I want to use my time wisely and where it will make the most difference. I suspect this aspect of Daily Five is going to take the longest to implement effectively.
I am keen that students will be able to tell me what they are choosing to do and what their goal is as they leave the gathering place. Some students are well able to identify their goals, others are going to need more support.
I see how our key competency of self-management fits very well into the Daily Five. I have completed a taxonomy for students to place themselves on at the end of each session or day, in relation to this. Indeed I should do one for myself. With over 35 years of teaching experience it is very difficult to leave go my roving eye and word of caution, and allow the students to practice self-management!