Monday, September 19, 2011

Daily Five is the Bomb-diggity!

For the last 7 years I have been teaching the 5th grade in some form or another.  Sometimes straight and sometimes in combination with a 4th or a 6th.  Guided reading for me consisted mostly of passing out the same  book to a group of about 6 kids who were all at basically the same level.  I would then try to meet with as many groups as possible in one day, which was usually 2, while trying to keep the rest of the kids busy.  This was usually achieved with worksheets or if I had an exceptionally well behaved class, I may have tried using centers.  Lets face it, it was all busy work.
We would sit at my kidney table which I later upgraded to a U-shaped table and would take turns round-robin reading.  I thought I was getting fancy when I would give them post-it notes. They would look for new words, ask questions or make text connections and they may even make a prediction or two.  I would give them a set amount of pages to read for the next time we would get together and then I would send them on their merry way.  I would expect them to write a summary for me in their reading notebook, which I later upgraded to writing friendly letters back and forth with my students.  (I am not saying that this is a bad idea, I'm just saying after a while all of that reading and writing or summaries and letters was too much for me to keep up with.)  My ultimate goal was to make sure everyone got through their books.  

I thought that what I was doing was what I should be doing.  We would DRA test our students at the beginning of the year and then again at the end of the year.  My students always showed growth.  Our district judges us on how the kiddos do on the DRA.  They have to achieve a certain fluency speed, have a certain accuracy, and write a good summary.  We did this well.  I didn't give much of the rest of reading a second thought.  All that one on one stuff was for the primary grades.  Right?

Then two things happened.  My second grade daughter was an entire grade behind in school and was really struggling in reading.  She hated it.   Then, I really analyzed how my students were doing on our state tests.  That's when I really began paying attention to what my first grade teacher friend was doing in her classroom for reading.  I asked her many questions about how she taught and assessed reading.  I took a graduate class on teaching struggling readers.  I learned the difference between running records and miscue analysis.  This is when I realized I wasn't really teaching reading. I was creating good word callers that could write a summary that passed the mustard.  They could not, however, go beyond the text and answer deeper meaning questions like authors purpose or inference questions.

That's when it happened, I discovered "The Sisters" for myself. I had heard of them before, but never gave them much thought for me the upper elementary teacher.  I attended their Daily 5 and CAFE in the Classroom workshopes.   I have to say they have helped me put into place a real reading system for my classroom.  It all makes so much since.  It was like, "Duh".

This year I moved to third grade and jumped into the pool with both feet and I am swimming in the warm waters of Daily Five and the CAFE in the Classroom.  My kids love it, and I love it.  By day 7 we have made it to 29 minutes of stamina for  Read to Self and we have introduced Word Work.  I know that the sisters suggest Work on Writing next, but I had to get spelling going.

By the way, my daughter is now in 4th grade.  She still has some reading issues, but she is reading right where she should be for her grade level and she enjoys books now.


Patti White

I admire your enthusiasm and willingness to try new things, and for this reason I am bestowing upon you the Versatile Blogger Award. Go to my blog to get the rules, award pic, and to pass it on to 15 other lucky recipients. Happy blogging!

Here is the URL:


I love you post! I totally felt that way too. I love the CAFE and Daily 5 structure. I also have a much younger sister, 13 years difference. Isn't it great to "experience" school again through a sibling. By the way, check out the blog my teacher pal and I started this weekend for a freebie, a Spelling Menu.

Keep posting!

Jennifer Gibson

I love the CAFE and Daily 5. I am using it now for the third straight year, and each year I tweak it just a little bit to meet my needs. Each year, I love it more!

Thanks for sharing!

Lifelong Learning


29 minutes of stamina?? Tell your kids they are AWESOME!