Taken from a painting of Kapiti Island at Sunset.
by Sonia Savage.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is Daily Five for Ten to Thirteen Year Olds?

A question that I hear sometimes asked is: "Does Daily Five work with older students, for example in New Zealand at the intermediate level - Year 7 and
 8?  Eleven to thirteen year olds.

In my opinion Daily Five is highly suited to working with this age. I have only been using it now since mid 2011, and I would never go back to any other way of organising my literacy.

  • It gives students choice and they love that.
  • It encourages them to be independent and take some responsibility for their learning.
  • Students spend time reading and writing, rather than prepared sheets etc by the teacher.
  • The teacher is able to conference one on one with students or..
  • Work with a group with no interference
  • The engagement of students is mostly 100% all of the time. 
  • It enables flexible grouping.
So if you wanted to implement it in your class where might you begin?
  • Obtain and read the book The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  This step is essential.  Read it and assimilate it.  The process of setting it up is important, expect about your first month to be given over to this.  Do this part well and you are set up for a great year.
  • Although not a daily five book I would also highly recommend The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller, to teachers of older students. This will really fire up your own enthusiasm for children's literature and enhance your Daily Five literacy.
  • Prepare and begin. Don't be overwhelmed, it may seem difficult but it really is okay once you get going.
In the beginning I taught all five aspects of Daily Five - Reading to Self, Reading to Others, Listening, Writing and Working with Words. As 2011 passed I realised that actually for older students not all five are needed. So for 2012 I have Read to Self, Writing and Working with Words.  However this does not cut out the option of listening; some students might opt in their read to self time - to listen.  As we generally have students at different levels of reading - read to others might be appropriate too as a choice.  The great thing is Daily Five is flexible.

On a good day I do three rounds and it goes like this:
  • A ten minute teaching time with the whole class - in the beginning this is about process and practice of the structure of Daily Five. Later this will become input around Reading or Writing or Vocabulary.
  • A breakout, where students make a choice of what they are going to do - caution this comes after you have established Reading, Writing and Words work individually.
  • During the breakout time I meet individuals and conference reading around reading and writing - or take a group for a short while.
  • Another ten minute gathering time - more input from the teacher.
  • Another breakout
  • Another ten minute input time.
  • Another breakout
  • Share time.
With older students breakout time is usually 25 - 30  minutes for me.  It just depends on the day.
Now not every day is a good day! (I define a good day as heaps of time for literacy!) Sometimes we only have one round or two rounds on other days.  I warn students at the beginning: today we have .... rounds. Then they can make their choice accordingly.

The two sisters Daily Five website is another place to visit.  I have a subscription to it because I find all the answers to my questions there!  I started out with a three month sub to see if it would be useful to me first. It was! Excellent video that models so many aspects.  If you don't subscribe at least sign up for the newsletter as it is great value.

Follow or/and join in with the Daily Five chat on Twitter. It goes under the hash #d5chat.  In New Zealand the chat time is on the 1st and 3rd Saturday at 1pm.  That is Friday evening in the States.

If you have a question, as you decide whether it is for you - don't hesitate to ask.


  1. This was really helpful, Kathryn. Thank you. I teach a Year 8 class with the usual very wide range of abilities. I think Daily 5 (or 3) would work perfectly. First step is clearly to purchase the 2 books. Book whisperer is one of my favourites! Seem to have it on permanent hold from the library. Starting 40 book challenge this year. Excited!
    Thanks again!

  2. Hope it will be an answer for you as it has been for me. I like it and so do the students. They get snarky if they don't get their D5 fix! Or at least I should say the 2011 and 2012 classes did.

  3. Thanks for this great blog - I really want to give this a go and think it will be great for our students school wide.
    Deep breath and here goes

  4. Have just started the programme with my Y5/6's. I'm very pleased to hear it works with the older children. Am thinking of combining Reading to Others and Listening to Reading snd adding some sort of Responding to Reading component. Does this sound sane!!
    Matt L

    1. Matt
      Sorry just saw this comment! Try out whatever you think, and see if it works for you. I find that mine write a lot more and want to do that a second round sometimes. I have dropped read to others entirely, but with Yr 5 & 6 could be good to do.

      Occasionally students chose listening in my room, it's optional. As I say you do what works and you find that out as you experiment with your class.

      Hope it goes well for you, I know my class would complain bitterly if I ever dropped it!



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