Using the Daily 5 During Summer School

I started reading The Daily 5 a few weeks before school ended, and really liked the ideas behind it.  The premise, described as a framework rather than a curriculum, is a daily structure of students choosing between five authentic reading activities, rotating between these choices in "rounds" with "focus lessons" in between. The choices are "Read to Self," "Read with Someone," "Listen to Reading," "Work on Writing," and "Word Work."  The emphasis is on students reading and writing rather than doing inauthentic busywork.  The rounds of independent work are designed to allow the teacher to work with students strategically in small groups. The authors (known as the 2 Sisters) purport that you will spend less time "managing" your class and more really engaging with your students, which of course sounds wonderful.

In retrospect, it was overly ambitious to try to implement the Daily 5 in a 3 1/2 week summer school course.  According to the authors, it takes several weeks to get the program up and running, so it likely would have gone better if I could have rolled it out more slowly.  We started with Read to Self, and a few days later started Work on Writing.  The next week, we started Word Work.  We never got to Listen to Reading or Read to Someone.  The authors recommend waiting until your students have 10 minutes of stamina during Read to Self (reading quietly the entire time, staying in one spot) before launching Read to Someone.  Our stamina only got to 8 minutes, so it seemed unwise to try Read to Someone.  As far as Listen to Reading goes, I just never got around to setting up the technology.  

  • Students built their reading stamina from 2 minutes (on the first day) to 8 minutes, including students with traits of ADHD
  • Students had the opportunity to read authentic books of their choosing
  • Students were able to write on topics of their choosing on a daily basis
  • Focus lessons were short, which was crucial to keeping my 5- and 6-year-old's engaged
  • We never got to the point where I could work with students in small groups during rounds
  • Because I wasn't able to work with small groups, students did not get truly differentiated/individualized reading instruction
  • While students appeared to be reading, I'm not entirely sure that all of them were

My Daily 5 Set Up
As a caveat, I wasn't in my own classroom this summer, so my set up was strictly functional.  I used IKEA magazine files ($1.49 for 5, alleluia!) for students' individual book boxes so they could just grab their box and start reading.  I used the CAFE menu (which is sort of part of Daily 5, but provides more content-- you can check out the book here) a little bit, but as you can see, we didn't get very far with our strategies! The giant 3 shows the three ways to read a book (read the pictures, read the words, retell the story), which my students frequently referred to. I kept our stamina chart directly on our Read to Self I-chart (a chart that shows student and teacher expectations for a given time), and the students were definitely eager to fill in our stamina for the day ("how many staminas did we get??").  I kept our word work options (dry erase boards, magnetic letters, letter cubes, phonics puzzles, letter stamps) underneath the book boxes. For work on writing, I found the students really could not get started right away unless they were at their desks, so for the sake of efficiency we all did it at once and at their normal seats.

If you decide to pursue using The Daily 5 in your classroom, there a TON of resources online.  A quick search on Pinterest or TeachersPayTeachers will give you a lot of ideas and free resources.  I found this post from Kinderworld particularly useful in planning my first days of instruction.  There are a million different themed Daily 5 printables (monsters, owls, you name it) available on TPT, many of them for free.  

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