Thursday, July 30, 2015

Core Beliefs of the Daily 5- Book Study Chapter 9

As the Daily 5 book study wraps up, we’ll return to the core beliefs of the framework.  I love that this chapter acknowledges the realities of a classroom- the substitute teachers, the kids who are always pushing our limits, parent volunteers, and new students- and shares insight for how to handle these situations without letting them ruin the good parts of the Daily 5!

daily 5 chapter 9

Again and again, the Sisters talk about the core beliefs:
community, accountability, trust, and respect.

And with most of our students, the steps outlined in setting up the Daily 5 allow these things to resonate and really take hold in our classrooms.

A lot of PD books would stop here, but the Sisters are teachers. They GET that what works for 95% of our students the first go-around isn’t necessarily something that works for every kid without some extra support.

They describe that last 5% of kids- the “challenging” kids- as the barometer kids. As they put it, these kids “dictate the weather in the classroom.”

Again, the Sisters’ response to a misbehaving child is not to assume they can do it and are being defiant, but to look at the why, and teach that child to succeed, adding support as needed.

We can’t assume our students know how to meet expectations without teaching them, and we can’t expect that every student can meet those expectations without extra support.

Here are the levels of support in the book:

1. Reflection

This is when we look at ourselves. Did we model? Did we engage the student when we should’ve let him or her be independent? Did we use positive voice and tone? Have we checked his or her book box for engaging, appropriate books, and helped the student choose new books if needed?

Essentially- this is when we look at ourselves. WE are on a behavior plan, and we even ask colleagues to see if they notice anything WE can improve.

2. Extra Support

If a student struggles, they need reteaching and practice. The Sisters suggest doing this during recess if needed to build accountability. By taking just 2-3 minutes and giving that child a specific goal to work on, it builds urgency- and being one-on-one with the teacher definitely puts the goal at the forefront of their minds.

In the classroom, I would likely try this during the reading block when possible. I think staying in from recess feels too much like a punishment, and I don’t want that associated with our reading time at all. Instead, I can quietly confer with the student about a goal at the start of a reading round and then give them a few minutes of specific practice within the context of reading time. Of course, using a couple of minutes of recess could be an option if the student is just not taking it seriously, but I don’t think we should try it first.

3. In-Class Modifications

Just like with any instructional needs our students have, the next step after reteaching is to provide some modifications in class to help our barometer students be more successful.

For this, consider how your student struggles. Having a hard time sitting in one spot? Give them a defined space or “office” to sit on. Having a hard time sitting still for so long? Add small brain breaks with kinesthetic tools in between reading. Essentially, look at what your student needs- and try to offer scaffolding towards that goal.

For my barometer student, L, a couple of years ago, he struggled a lot with staying in one spot and focusing. I let him choose what he felt like he needed to work on the most, and he chose focusing on his book. I asked him what might help, and he asked if he could sit by a responsible student who could give him a silent reminder if he was off-task. She was very patient, and he wanted to do well- so it worked for him! I also contacted his parents to let them know we were working on stamina, and suggested they spend a little time building reading stamina and even stamina to sit still during other activities at home. He began to see success, and as his confidence grew, I saw his independence grow, too!

4. Gradual Release of In-Class Modifications

At a professional development session I attended last week, I heard a sentence I just loved: “Scaffolding is meant to come down.” If we continue to provide the same supports that a student initially needs without ever reconsidering their needs, that student may come to depend on the supports forever. If our goal is truly to build independence, we need to slowly remove the modifications that helped our student succeed.

The Sisters suggest sandwiching quick check-ins within a round. I found that sometimes, this gradual release happened naturally- and all I had to do was check in with students. With my student L, his friend stopped needing to give him so many reminders, and one day he asked me if he could go sit by someone else. I turned it back to him and asked what he thought. He was pretty sure he could do it- and so I encouraged him to go for it and told him we’d check in again at the end of the round. Guess what? He rocked  it. I really think that giving him ownership over the modifications was a big part in his success.

At the end of the year, his mom asked me for a conference. The year prior, he had been a “behavior problem.” This year, though, L loved school- and even though he still struggled to focus at times, his behavior had improved immensely. At our conference, his mom wanted to know what had helped, and what she could do to continue his success- and I begged her to please keep him reading for a round or two every day of the summer. For him, learning to be independent went beyond just reading independently- building stamina and taking responsibility for his choices and success were paramount in his improvement.

Ultimately, I think a lot of why he had been in so much trouble the year before was that his teacher didn’t think he could do it- but the Daily 5’s core beliefs made a difference.

“Trusting children is the underpinning of what makes the Daily 5 work.”
- The 2 Sisters

And for this eager-to-please boy, knowing that I trusted he COULD do it and WOULD do it (even if he needed a little help at first) made all  the difference.

The Sisters know that moving to this framework isn’t easy.

They describe the initial discomfort to not having papers that prove your children’s learning (although my students’ reading notebooks helped with this for me). They understand the impatience you’ll feel when it takes days to launch and build stamina. They get that it’s hard for us to try something new and not feel like it’s running perfectly right at the start.

But they remind us of this:
Trust our students and our teaching, and read research to allow the experts in our field to give us courage.

They also provide tips in this last chapter for working with parents (who may be skeptical of something so different), introducing the system to new students, and how to make sure everything runs smoothly even with a guest teacher. The appendices provided have everything you need to know to start the Daily 5- lesson plans to launch it, a stamina chart, the 10 Steps to Independence for each task, sample substitute plans, and even a sample parent letter. If you don’t have the book (or if you only had the first edition), it’s worth it.


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Ultimately, the Daily 5 in my classroom was a resounding success. Less busywork for me, less busywork for the students, and kids who went from hating reading to loving it.

I can recall L finally making it to 20 minutes of stamina, and the look of pride on his face. I remember two of my students finding a contradiction about Abraham Lincoln’s life in two different texts, and hunkering down to do research for days to find the answer. I think back to the conversations I had with my students in their journals, and especially a  girl who wrote to me about how she hates books where kids have a perfect life, because she doesn’t- and being able to recommend the perfect book to make her feel less alone.

Reading is powerful- and the Daily 5 will get your kids really reading.
And is there really anything more important than that?

daily 5 1

In case you’ve missed any of my previous posts about the Daily 5, you can read them here:

Chapter 1– What is the Daily 5, and How is the 2nd Edition Different?
Chapter 2 – Core Beliefs of Daily 5
Chapter 3 – The Ten Steps to Independence
Chapter 5 – Launching Read to Self in the Daily 5
Chapter 6 – Daily 5 Foundation Lessons
Chapter 7 – When to Launch the Next Daily 5 Task & Introduce Choice
Chapter 8 – The Math Daily 3

Organizing My 90 Minute Reading Block with Daily 5
How I Manage Small Group Materials
Keeping Students Accountable in Daily 5- Without Taking Away Choice

You can also read more about chapter 9 from Primary Inspired (the wonderful host of our book study!) and the other Daily 5 bloggers in the links below. Thanks for reading!

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