August 21, 2011

Introducing the Daily 5 (or 3!)

Wow, THANK YOU guys for the overwhelming response to my Word Work post!  I can't believe how many people were interested in checking out my "stuff."  You are all the sweetest.  I do want to emphasize though that my Daily 3 is ALWAYS a work in progress.  I am thinking about adding some additional word work practice this year that focuses on vocabulary skill and strategy instead of specific words.  (Ex. root/affix work, homophone work, word families, etc.)  Of course I will continue sharing with you guys when I do come up with things, but if you have independent practice ideas or activities already in place for these skills, please share!!  I will love you forever!

ANYWAYS, now for the fun stuff.  So many of the emails I got requesting my Word Work materials were from teachers looking to implement a version of the Daily 5 for the first time.  It got me thinking about when I first discovered the Daily 5.  I have a confession to make.  When I first opened the Daily 5, I did not love it.  I was a brand new teacher, fresh out of college.  My liberal arts school had taught me how to teach literature circles and interdisciplinary units.  I had heard of balanced literacy and guided reading, but had no idea how to set up either in my classroom.  When someone suggested the Daily 5 and loaned me the book, I kind of freaked out reading it.  My stream of doubts: 5 rotations?  5 teacher mini-lessons?  When will I do my shared reading?  I have to use my leveled readers!  Can I do this with my literacy series?  All the pictures in the book are of 6 year olds. I teach big kids!!!  Will this work for me???  The classrooms in the book are so big and spacious!  How can I do this in my crowded classroom??? etc. etc. etc.

Luckily, I took a few deep breaths and calmed down enough to get advice from Mrs. Literacy Specialist.  We worked hard to put some components of Daily 5 in place during my first year, and last year I continued tweaking my systems until I was pretty happy with the way things were going.  I describe my Daily 3 system and how I modify the Sisters' "vision" to work with older kiddos and a literacy series in this post, so I'm not going to drag you through all of that again!  But, since the school year is starting, I'd like to share with you how I build my Daily 3 foundation during the first weeks of school.
Last Year: Anchor Charts in progress 

 On the second day of school (This THURSDAY! Yikes!), I will start my Read to Self introduction lessons.   I literally type up scripts straight from the Daily 5 books and reference them as I teach to make sure I don't leave anything out.  I highly recommend doing this if you can be a forgetful teacher like me!  We will start the first day by talking about the 3 ways to read a book (Read the words, Read the pictures, Retell the story), and I will model using a picture book.  I use Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth because it is a really captivating little story and the pictures are unbelievable.

We will make our anchor chart (as seen in the Daily 5 book) and I will choose a squirelly student to model the correct/incorrect/correct behaviors.  Then let the stamina building begin!  During this phase, it is CRUCIAL to be insanely strict with stamina building.  The first time a student so much as GLANCES away from their book, I ring my little bell that I train them means, "Come back to the carpet."  If the time was really short, keep your tone positive!  I say something like, "Today we weren't ready to read more than 2 minutes.  We are still training our minds and bodies to read to self.  We are still learning, and that is okay!"  We reflect, revisit the anchor chart, and try again.  I track the "stamina" on the board, and make a HUGE deal out of improvements in stamina.  After every "practice," we share Celebrations & Things to Improve.  It's adorable.
Last year's anchor charts and stamina (upper right)

While the kids are practicing stamina, I do NOT walk around the room and monitor.  The Sisters say that this trains the kids to read when you are standing near them, NOT to just read regardless of what you are doing.  Since I will be seated at my guided reading table during our real Daily 3, that's where I sit while I time them.  At first I watch closely to know when to ring my bell, but as we build up our stamina I will likely read too. :)  The first day, I will fill their book bins.  After I do the "Good Fit Books" lesson from the book (the one with the shoes!), I will let them start adding books to their book bins using the IPICK guideline we will go over together.

I will also choose their spots for the first few days.  After we go over "good spots" and add it to our anchor chart, I will let them choose their spots.  (Note: Later in the year if the kids are challenged by choosing appropriate spots, I will take back this piece of control.  I will choose their spots for a few days while reteaching appropriate and inappropriate spots, and will give back that control when they are ready.)  Also, I let students read all around my room and typically let 1-2 in the hall (depending on the group of kids).  This gets them separated from their neighbors!  I have some bean bags, big cushions, and a whole bunch of little pillows that they can use.  Again, if these are used inappropriately or not shared, I take them back for awhile and reteach until we are ready.

Book Bin
I will introduce the second component, Work on Writing, the second or third week of school depending on how we are doing.  My first year, I rushed to get all of the pieces of Daily 5 (Daily 4 actually for me that year) in place, and started running guided reading immediately.  It was a mess.  Believe me when I say that this time is NOT wasted.  It is essential to build a strong foundation so that it can support your entire year of literacy instruction.  During the first weeks, I will also be laying the foundation for Writing Workshop during another part of my day, which will become intertwined with Work on Writing.  I do not do a writing mini-lesson during my reading block, but when kids choose the Work on Writing option, they will work on something from their Writing Workshop notebook.  Does that make sense?  WoW (as the kiddos call it) becomes an extension of their Writing Workshop independent time.

When I introduce Word Work in several weeks, I will start with 1-2 choices, and gradually add others as I see fit.  Choice is the lifeblood of Daily 5 (along with routines of course!), but too much choice too soon only leads to chaos.  That's why at first I choose seats, and when the kids are READY, they start choosing their seats.

My Advice:

  • Start slow--don't rush to introduce the components too quickly
  • Model, Practice, Reteach, Repeat (This goes on all year--any time my students had a rough day in Daily 3, I reminded myself that this was a signal to me NOT to complain that "my kids can't do it!!!" but instead to go back to the anchor chart and reteach!)
  • Adapt the program continuously to meet the needs of your classroom!!!  There is no one right way to do Daily 5 (or 4 or 3!).
What other questions can I answer about introducing Daily 5?


  1. I found a post on another teacher blog, I am going to use the boggle game as an option for word work. Go to her website and check it out! :) Thanks so much again for all of the resources you sent me!!!

  2. Thanks for all your info on the Daily 5 (or 3). I am looking forward to implementing it this year...which starts TOMORROW!

    Quench Your First

  3. You've got some great tips thst I'll definitely use! I had a lot of the same hesitations as you when I first read Daily 5. (Soooo jealous of their classrooms!) I really started to buy into it once I read The CAFE book, and I'm excited to implement those strategies!

  4. I feel so much better after reading your post about taking the time to build stamina and not introducing everything all at one time!!! I am about to open up my lesson plan template and make changes! I am freaking out right now because we have been in school for 7 days, and I haven't TAUGHT read to self!! They have read at their desks, but we have been so busy with assessments and I am actually teaching them how to set up their notebooks, agenda books, etc. I know I just have to stop and realize that I still have 173 days to teach them what they need to know! :)

  5. Hi! you have really helped me out in getting my head around daily 5!
    I am relieved to see you do your own version, as this is definitely what i'd need (and want) to do. Reassuring!


  6. Thank you so much for posting this! It could be me writing...I have many of the same feelings as you about letting go and trusting my students. I think this post will really help me!
    Thinking of Teaching

  7. I would love to see your schedule for your school days. I will be teaching 5th grade next year after years of working with primary students. I am having difficulty finding the time to implement Daily 5.

  8. I could use some advice! First, I love, love your blog! Thank you for being so willing to share. :) Second, my teaching partner and I are not sure if we can do the Daily 3 in our 4th grade classroom or not. I used the Daily 5 in my 2nd grade classroom, and I think Daily 3 is a great option for upper grade, however, our school groups for guided reading, so the kids in my classroom will change 3 times during the year. We might be able to keep some of the same kids. In my experience, teaching the students how to "do" Daily 5 took a lot of time but really paid off. I am worried that with different kids 3 times a year, we won't be able to spend the time I would like to implement the procedures and expectations each time, and it might end up as a disaster. What do you think???


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