21 December 2014

Watching the progress

Construction on our new building is moving along. It's exciting to watch. I can't wait to see my new classroom. We've been told they will be a bit bigger. I'm pretty happy about that. My current classroom set up works quite well, but it is a little cosy with 27 bodies in it (24 students and 3 adults). Since my classroom window looks out, across our current PE area at the new building I've been able to takes some snaps of the progress. Here's what I've been seeing.
28th September 2014

8th October 2014
Anybody notice anything wrong with this picture?

23rd October 2014

26th October 2014

15th November 2014
30th November 2014

4th December 2014 - View from across the road. You can see our existing classroom building in the background on the left.
4th December 2014 - A closer view of the photo above. Hmm, I wonder if anyone can see a problem here?

10th December 2014
That's it for now. I'll get some more photos over the coming fortnight as things progress.

18 November 2014

Slowly expanding use of ICTs for learning

This week I've experimented with giving my students a new choice in their homework.

Each week I set spelling words, and most weeks each child has a unique list. This week, that is partly true, in that anyone who had errors on last week's test had to learn those words again this week, but there was also a core list of 13 words that everyone had. The core list is actually a vocabulary list from our Inventions unit, so part of the challenge is that the children need to learn what the words mean as well as how to spell them. We've been working on that in class, playing some games matching words to meaning, but I've subscribed to a great website (www.spellingcity.com) that includes vocabulary activities as well as spelling. The site has a free area, but that doesn't include the vocabulary part, and that is something my students really need support with, so I decided it was worth the cost to subscribe, especially as I can easily produce "flash card" word lists now. I can also monitor individual student activity on-line.

To help the children learn their words, they have to complete a number of tasks, and sometimes there's a worksheet that focuses on the spelling "rule" of the week as well. This week there was no worksheet. The choice I offered was to either complete three handwritten tasks, or complete 5 on-line activities. So far about half of the children have done some or all of the on-line activities. That's enough that I'd consider making this type of activity a regular option. The great thing is that I can see what they've done, what they scored, and what words they are struggling with.

There's no way I would ever make this a compulsory task. There are too many variables, including students who don't even have internet access at home, but it is another way of incorporating ICTs into the student's learning, and to differentiate. I get the feeling it needs to be tweaked a bit more, but I'm pretty happy with my first attempt at ICT based homework. I know that in many schools across the world this would be a minimal expectation, but it's not here, so I'm enjoying being able to ease ICTs into my teaching in different ways at my own pace.

05 October 2014

A looks at some changes in Grade 4K for the 2014-15 school year.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back at school for eight weeks already, but it’s true. Admittedly one of those weeks was only two days long, but the first six weeks were full weeks. This summer I made some changes in my classroom as I prepared to implement “The Daily Five”. Rather than tell you about it, I thought I’d show you.


The door hasn’t changed, but when I was "home" in Australia last Christmas I found these great foam hands. They were blank, so one of our projects the first week of school was to get out the markers and glitter glue and decorate them. Each person put their own “stamp” on their hand and then I put them all up. Some of them slipped a bit before the glue dried, but it does make a fun door. 

The first thing on the right as you walk in the door is my new bookshelf! A big thank you to my colleague in the fifth grade who helped me buy the wood, and did the actual construction.  I’ve got room to buy a few more books now! The top shelf is a perfect fit for 22 book boxes. These were one of my special holiday purchases in Bangkok. They're narrower than normal magazine storage boxes, but just right for the books the students need to keep in them. They alternate high and low due to slightly different widths front and back, so by alternating they fit perfectly on the shelf! I love my “Star Helpers”. This was a purchase a few years back. Laminated it will last a few more years yet.


To make room for the new bookshelf, I stack the student “cubbies” on top of each other. I also did some trading. Previously I had twelve cubbies in each unit (3 rows of 4). Knowing I had 23 students this year, I traded one unit with one of the fifth grade teachers and the other with one of the third grade teachers so now I’ve got sixteen cubbies in each unit (4 rows of 4). That gave me a cubby for each table for the folders we use for testing, and a few spare for spare copies of workbooks, Go Check, Handwriting, and scrap paper. It also got the paper cutter and cleaning supplies out of reach of little fingers!


That did mean I lost the space on top of the shelves for day-to-day use, but it’s worked out quite well, and I found a small table which has worked well for water bottles and a working alone desk. This is not about isolating students, but about giving them a choice to work in a space where they won’t be distracted by their classmates. The supply baskets for each table are only put on this table at the end of the day so the main work tables can be cleaned.


The next photos allows you to see how they table fits in the room, and also the homework board, games shelf, and Parts of Speech Posters. There are still a couple of these to be added, but we haven’t covered them yet, so they’ll go up later in the year.


Each year I’ve found I have a number of students who are a bit shorter than the others, and so I found a slightly shorter table and some shorter chairs that work with the table. One of the reasons for this is that part of The Daily Five is about allowing students choices about where they sit. I don’t have a lot of room, but I now have a number of different options for them. You can see the other small table in the background of this picture.



An important part of The Daily Five is the CAFE board, with its menu of strategies for reading. We’re just getting started with it, but eventually it will have a smorgasbord of strategies and students will put their names under the strategy they are working. It’s a great visual reminder of things students are working on as they read. 


Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed a quick look around my classroom. I’ll try and get back here more often in the weeks ahead, but my University studies are taking a big chunk of my time at the moment. I’m learning heaps, and as I put what I learn into practice, my students are benefiting. 

10 August 2014

Back to School Tomorrow

I'm finding it hard to believe the eight weeks of "Summer Break" are over, and I'm wishing I had another week or two. Life's like that.

Tomorrow morning I'll welcome my new 4th grade class at East-West International School. It's a full class, and I'm looking forward to getting to know them. Some I already know a little bit, and others I don't. Either way, I've got name tags ready for them all so I can quickly put the correct names to the faces (hopefully). Their books are all sorted and labelled, bookmarks are ready for home and in-class reading. Book boxes for "The Daily 5" are ready to go. My CAFE board is also ready to go. Lessons are planned for tomorrow, including a fun craft activity to finish the day.

So did I achieve everything on my summer "To Do" list? Not really, but I'm not stressing over it. One of the things I did finish was a Book Club for a book called "Awakened".
The biggest thing I've taken away from reading this book and the daily reflections is a reminder to think about how I'm talking to myself, making sure that talk is positive, and to avoid negativity as far as possible. An example is how I approached my schedule for the year. There was something in it that I wasn't real sure about, and which I actually knew wouldn't work because of classroom allocations. Instead of getting upset about it, I thought about it for a while and came up with a solution that would work for everyone. I got my early morning 20 minutes with my students back, my students still get recess and their music lessons, we get 50 minute language arts lessons that day, and my Khmer assistant gets two 30 minute lessons with the whole class later in the week instead of one 40 minute lesson. I'm hoping I can keep a positive mindset as the week continues and that this year will be even better than all those that have gone before.

Some of the things I did achieve include:
  • taking photos for the math manipulatives catalogue,
  • getting set up for The Daily 5 and CAFE,
  • getting those workbooks checked and copied,
  • catching up with a friend and her daughter in Bangkok,
  • seeing a movie,
  • doing some swimming and helping keep the pool clean,
  • losing some weight (I've still got a way to go, but I'm heading in the right direction),
  • some piano practice (not as much as I'd like but some is better than none),
  • getting started on my studies,
  • reading some novels,

Well, I've still got a few things I want to do before I go to bed, so I'm signing off for now. My cold has almost gone, with just a residual cough, so I'm hoping to get back into the pool very soon.

Looking forward to a great first day of school tomorrow! :)

23 July 2014

Another way you know you're on holidays ...

is when you get a head cold. That's not to say I don't get them other times, but somehow my body just seems to know that I'm on holidays and thinks it's OK to get sick. A friend commented on Facebook that something similar happened to her. I wonder if our immune system winds down a bit as well when we're relaxing. Maybe it's just that I'm in another country, and I'm being exposed to a whole new set of bugs and my body couldn't take it. Never mind, at least it's just a head cold with a bit of a cough. Unfortunately it's not always as easy to get the symptom relieving medicines you'd use at home in another country, but I'm hoping I've got something that will let me get a better night's sleep tonight.

Meanwhile I decided that, since I wasn't feeling so great, I'd just have a quiet day in the guesthouse and do another jigsaw puzzle. This one also had 300 pieces and cost me the very extravagant (not) price of 60 baht (not quite $2). I think it was easier than the one I did the other day. There were a few tricky bits, but I enjoyed doing it.


Now I'm happily working on a reading and reflection task before I head out to get some dinner. Then I really need to see if I can pack my bags. I made one purchase for school (for implement the Daily 5) that is going to be a bit tricky to fit in. Hopefully I can do it and they'll all get home to Phnom Penh without any damage.

20 July 2014

You know you're on holidays when ...

you have time to do a jigsaw puzzle!


I found this cute 300 piece puzzle in a 60 baht ($2) Daiso shop here in Bangkok. Just the right size to do in my room at the guest house. Might have to go back this evening and get the other one that they had, which was kittens! 

18 July 2014

The CAFE Book Chapter 7 - The last

Strategy Groups

This chapter starts with a justification for strategy groups as opposed to levelled reading groups. The strategy group approach allows the reading strategy needs of students at different levels to be me through small group instruction.

Structuring and Managing Strategy Groups
The key points here were that Daily 5 needs to be up and running before I start strategy groups, and that I need to have completed individual assessment of the students so I know what they need. Even with strategy groups there will still be whole class instruction and individual conferences.

Using the Strategy Group Form.
This form helps the teacher keep track of who needs to work on what strategy, and which students can work as a group on a strategy. It is also used to keep track of progress within the group. One key point is that students can move in and out of strategy groups as they master strategies. The strategy groups support individual instruction and give students a chance to work with a buddy who is focussing on the same strategy as they are.

Strategy Groups in Action: What a Typical Morning Looks Like
The key point I noted in this section was that the timing for strategy groups is similar to that for whole group instruction. This is based on Brain-based learning and is approximately one minute for each year of the age of the children. Using this thinking, most of my strategy groups should be 9-10 minutes since I'm teaching mostly 9 & 10 year olds.

Sample Strategy Groups
Once again the principles of this chapter are made clear through detailed examples. Three examples are given: One for Accuracy with a group of Kindergartners, one for Comprehension with a group of Third Graders, and one for Expand Vocabulary with a group of Fifth Graders.

And so ends my review and notes on The CAFE book. I still have all the appendices to read, but they can be done as I need to use them. Next step is to work out what it will look like in my classroom this year. This is going to be different in some ways because of my unique situation for timetabling with our bilingual program, but I know I can make it work.

16 July 2014

The CAFE Book Chapter 6

This chapter starts with a reminder that the order of introducing strategies isn't that important. While the four strategies introduced in Chapter 4 are foundational, the rest can be taught in any order that meets the needs of the students. Whichever strategies are chosen, it's important to keep the whole class focus lessons short, in line with brain-based learning principles. It's also important to remember that you don't just teach a strategy once and then move on. You can revisit strategies as often as needed throughout the year, with the whole class, with small strategy groups, or with individual students.

The next section provides an example of the Flip the Sound strategy lesson. One think I really liked here was the hand movement that signals the strategy. I think that will be really helpful for my kinaesthetic learners.

Whole lesson elements

  1. Identify what is to be taught, and share the "secret to success" with the strategy.
  2. Teach the strategy.
  3. Students practise with partners.
  4. Select a student to write and illustrate the CAFE menu strategy card (1st time only).
  5. Review the strategy.
  6. Encourage practice during independent reading times.
  7. Post the strategy after independent practice.
  8. Continually connect new strategies to strategies that are already on the CAFE board

Sample lessons
Four more sample lessons are provided to demonstrate a variety of strategies. These really help me see how the CAFE can work to help my students become better readers.

Something I'm also beginning to see is how I can reinforce the strategies during other lessons as well, especially science and social studies where we do quite a lot of "reading to learn".

13 July 2014

The CAFE Book Chapter 5

Eavesdropping on Some Conferences

I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter. It does just what you might expect from the title, let's the reader see how it works. As I would say, this chapter really shows where the rubber hits the road! There are sample conferences for each of the four CAFE areas: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. A variety of strategies are used, with a mixture of Beginning Readers and Advanced Readers. I'm really starting to get some concrete ideas of how I can use this and make it work in my fourth grade classroom. I've also got a much better idea of how to keep the conferences brief and specific.

That's all I'm going to say about this one. If you want to know more, you'll just have to get hold of the book and read it!

10 July 2014

Checking in

About a month ago I wrote about all the things I still had left to do before school finished and some of the things I hope to do over the holidays. You can read that here. Since the first four weeks of "summer break" are almost over I thought it would be a good time to write an update on how I'm going with that list.

I'm happy to report that the first eight items on the list happened without any problems. The students enjoyed the Science Fair, and we all enjoyed the trip to Kids City (where we spent time on the playground, the Science Floor, and Clip and Climb). Most stationery requests came in on time, and I got all the teacher resources back. The review of stationery requests took a while, but my students happily watched a movie while I did that. I got the Math Summary Sheets done in time, but the Reading and Writing Continuums took me another week, along with finishing cleaning and tidying up the classroom. They're done now and in a safe place ready to hand over to the appropriate person.

So, what about the holiday "To Do List". Well, I'm slowly making progress with the things on that list. I've finally finished the Stationery Supplies (as far as I can). Here's the evidence of what I've spent a heap of time preparing for and doing.
The big picture (although you can't quite see everything).

Books, books, and more books.

Khmer teacher supplies

Classroom teacher supplies and more books!
Here's a few numbers to help you understand what a huge job this has been:
3417 exercise books in 7 different sizes/styles
1149 folders
285 highlighters (in five different colours)
192 erasers
92 boxes of writing pencils
95 packets of coloured pencils
All of which had to be shared among 50 teachers and teaching assistants.

Other things I have managed to do so far include reading a few books, catching up with friends, watching a movie or two, and setting up my plan book for next year. So here are the things I still have left to do. I'm sure a few of them might not get done, but that's OK too.

  • Dental check-up
  • Create pictorial Math Manipulatives Catalogue
  • Check student workbooks for next year & request some extra photocopies.
  • Buy fabric and make chair bags for my classroom
  • Lots of piano practice
  • Start studying towards my Graduate Certificate in Education (Inclusive Education) which I hope will eventually lead to my Masters of Education
  • Prep my classroom for next year including setting up for The Daily 5
  • Review Science & Social Studies Units and think about how I can improve on them for next year
  • Write Unit plans for Language Arts Units
  • Read some more books
  • Catch up with friends - Two appointments made for this next week!
  • Watch a movie or two - I've seen 22 Jump Street and I'm off to see The Fault in Our Stars tomorrow.
I'm also participating in an on-line book club during July, which is a book I've started reading several times and not finished. I'm really enjoying the readings and the reflection/writing part of it is good.

Finally I've been helping out with keeping the school pool maintained over the break. That's been great because I usually swim first and then sweep the bottom of the pool. The swim and sweeping usually take about an hour, sometimes a little more, but it's refreshing and rewarding.

So, I'm pretty happy with what I've achieved so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the break. I looked at my calendar today and there's just 3 weeks before new teachers start! I'm sure I'm going to wonder where the break went if I'm not careful! Looking forward to Bangkok too.

The CAFE Book - Chapter 4

Conferring with Children: Principles and Examples

I'm excited about this chapter because I really have no idea what conferences with students about reading really might or should look like, as well as how to keep meaningful records and keep on top of "time". The authors promise lots of examples.

Rethinking Conference Protocols
This section provides background as well as introducing a specific structure for conferences. The focus of the conference is the child, his/her individual reading goals, and the progress he/she is making. A neat "conferring form" is provided with scaffolding and cues to help teachers like me move into conferring. A key point is that conferences are really coaching sessions, and a structure called "Coaching Toward a Target" is provided and explained in details (complete with examples).

The Seven Elements of Successful Conferences
Step 1: Check the calendar for appointments - The Calendar and the Keeping Track forms are key to ensuring every student gets the support he/she needs, including those who are more competent and more able to work independently.
Step 2: Prepare for the conference - This step involves a quick review of notes from the last conference with this child, before you get to the child, to enable the teacher to quickly and easily connect with what the individual student is working on, including what his/her personal reading goals are.
Step 3: Observe child and listen to reading - Conferences happen where the child has chosen to work. This step involves listening to the child reading and noting if and how he/she is applying strategies.
Step 4: Reinforce and teach - In this step you tell the student what you noticed about his/her reading, and ask what they have noticed. Focus on one strategy at a time, and provide individual teaching using explicit instruction and modelling. This should only take about a minute.
Step 5: Practise the strategy - Now the child has a chance to practise what you've just taught them while you're there. This gives a chance to fine tune the instruction and provide further clarification if needed.
Step 6: Plan - The planning here involves the student. This section outlines how to know if a child is ready to move on to a new strategy, and how to keep track of successfully demonstrated strategies (using the CAFE menu). This is the time to decide, with the child, what he/she will work on independently, and when you will next confer with him/her.This also helps build accountability for learning in the students.
Step 7: Encourage - We all need encouragement. Remember to give specific encouragement about the progress that has been made, and to reiterate the key teaching point of the conference.

In summary, the key is that short, focused conferences regularly will help children become better readers much more effectively than longer irregular conferences.

04 July 2014

Rainy season adventures

I love the rainy season. I guess it comes from having lived with drought for some many years. Today I was out and about this afternoon when a tropical thunderstorm rumbled in. I donned my rain poncho, and headed on my way. It wasn't long until I joined the crowd seeking shelter at a petrol station. It poured, and it poured, and then it poured some more. At times the wind blew the rain in under the roof, and I ended sitting in about a centimetre of water. Being on holidays, I decided to just sit and enjoy the experience and watch the storm. Where I was, on a main intersection, it was interesting to watch the traffic continue to move, with some impatient drivers racing to get through the lights and others approaching things more cautiously.

I'd been sitting there for about 15 minutes or so when along came two young men who I would consider pretty clever. On the back of their motos, and in a bag over the handlebars, was a plentiful supply of plastic raincoats! They had obviously worked out that there was money to be made selling raincoats to "stranded" moto riders. They did the rounds of those waiting, bypassing me since I already had my big poncho on, and then headed off into the rain to the next servo.

Eventually, when it looked like the rain had eased about, and as I noticed that roads were flooding, I decided to head out. Getting out of the servo required going through some flood water, and then the main road home was OK. Once I turned onto the street the school is on I discovered that it was flooded. Not too bad, in that it wasn't too deep and I did manage to navigate it reasonably well, without the bike stalling. By the time I got to my own street that too was flooded, but not badly. Life's fun! Once the rain stopped the water went down reasonably quickly around my place. I imagine it wasn't so quick to get away in other areas though. It's still raining as I write this, although it did stop for an hour or so. Once again I'm glad I have a dry place to sleep tonight. There will be many in Phnom Penh who don't tonight.

26 June 2014

The CAFE Book - Chapters 2 and 3

Chapter 2 - The CAFE Notebook and Record-Keeping Forms

Keeping records about children's progress is something I've not done particularly well to date, especially anecdotal records, so I found this chapter really helpful. It starts with the story of how the authors found a system and format that worked for them, and gives me lots of ideas and resources and freed to find what will work for me and my students. Initially it talks about where to store all these great notes, and then it gets on to what is inside.

The first section of the notebook is really big picture stuff. It includes things like a calendar (to schedule student conferences & small group meetings), a form for tracking those conferences by student (to make sure everyone gets the help they need and no-one gets missed out), and a form for tracking groups of students working on the same goals/strategies. The bonus is that pdfs of all the forms are provided on the accompanying CD.

The second section has dividers for each individual child with their personalised copy of the CAFE menu and Reading and Writing Conference Forms. Looks like I'm going to be looking for some kinds of binder that will become my "notebook".

Chapter 3 - CAFE Step-by-Step: The First Days of School

This chapter does just what the title says. It provides a step-by-step guide to introducing the CAFE to students, especially in the early days of school.

The first item introduced is "C" for comprehension, along with the definition "I understand what I read". The first strategy introduced is "Check for Understanding" and the authors suggest using picture books for these lessons.

After a break, maybe a time of building stamina, another strategy from a different section of the menu is introduced, using another picture book. The example give is "A" for accuracy, using the Cross-Checking Strategy.

Depending on the classroom schedule, another heading and strategy might be introduced later in the day, such as "Tune In To Interesting Words" under the "E" for expanding vocabulary section.

Each time a strategy is introduced it is named explicitly for the students and posted on the CAFE Display board. Each time a strategy is reviewed, the display is referred to.

Over the first few days, the authors recommend four core strategies be taught and reviewed several times, with repeated modelling and anchoring to the CAFE menu. Using the Daily 5 structure, students will have lots of opportunities to practise the strategies as they build stamina for working independently.

The next part of the CAFE program is moving to Individual Conferences, and using assessment to inform instruction. A seven step process is provided to guide the reader through this. An example of what each step might look like is provided. Finally, some encouragement for those of us who are a bit apprehensive of trying new things - you don't have to get it perfect the first time. It won't hurt students to practise a strategy they are already good at, and you can always give them something new at the next conference. It's OK for the teacher to learn along the way too! :)

25 June 2014

The CAFE Book - Chapter 1

Introduction: 
The Beginnings of the CAFE Menu Assessment System


I just love the honesty of the two sisters in writing both of these books. The first chapter of this, their second book, highlights something I've struggled with since I began classroom teaching. How do I fully use reading assessments to inform my teaching, and especially to differentiate so my teaching supports the individual needs of my students. It's really encouraging to know that I'm not alone in that struggle. CAFE is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. These headings cover a huge variety of reading strategies, and are used to develop a menu of choices for students to use. The idea of a menu of choices also fits perfectly with the Daily 5 structure, which gives students choices about when they complete various activities.

Having just completed the Developmental Continuums for reading and writing required by my school, I'm painfully aware of a major deficit in my teaching and record keeping, especially when it comes to reading strategies. How can students tell me what strategies they are using if I don't name and teach specific strategies? I'm already hopeful that the CAFE system will help me do a better job of both tasks, and also help me to better meet the needs of my diverse students.

There are four core parts to the CAFE system. The first is the teacher's notebook. Next come individual conferences, followed closely by small group instruction in flexible groups. Finally we have whole group instruction, focussing on skills whole class/group need.

Also in this chapter, the authors give a brief overview of some of the research that has informed their development and implementation of the CAFE system. This included both reading other people's research and their own practical day-to-day action research. It was encouraging to notice some names that appear in my textbooks for the coming semester.

The chapter ends with comments which highlight the freedom to adapt the system to meet the needs of each individual setting which it is used in. It also reminds the reader that, as with most teaching strategies, it is a work in progress, and that's OK. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book and discovering how I can better meet the needs of my students and challenge them to become better readers and writers.

17 June 2014

Exploring the Daily 5 - Chapter 9

Returning to our Core Beliefs

The final chapter of The Daily 5 addresses specific groups or individuals within the classroom and how these are dealt with, from a foundation of community, accountability, trust, and respect.

Barometer Children
This term is applied lovingly to those children who have a major impact on classroom climate. These children will usually require additional support to build stamina, but not necessarily every round or even every day. Four levels of support are suggested. Some children will only ever need level 1 support, while others will need level 3 or 4 support regularly. Foundational is the belief that, with appropriate support, every child can be successful.
Level 1: Reflection
I really appreciated this section. It reminded me of the need to look first at my own behaviour, and that things that I control, to ensure I am doing all I can to help these students be successful. It's about me taking time to reflect, as well as to check on a few things such as "Good Fit Books". Sometimes I might even need my own goal sheet to ensure my tone with students is positive and that I'm giving appropriate, timely, positive feedback.
Level 2: Extra Support
This level provides a respectful opportunity for children to get some extra practice at building stamina. While it does involve recess time, it's only a few minutes, since these children are often those who need recess the most. This level of support will help identify if further support is really needed.
Level 3: In-Class Modifications
This section provides details of ways to help specific children develop their stamina, acknowledging that it may take them longer to build stamina than some of the other children. It also allows for their shorter stamina without breaking the stamina of those who can work independently for longer periods. Tools such as sand timers, stop watches, kinaesthetic materials, and alternative reading materials are used, as well as individual stamina charts. Eventually the additional tools will not be needed, but there should always be the opportunity for students to return to the tools if necessary.
Level 4: Gradual Release of In-Class Modifications
This level is about providing additional "check-ins" with specific children during a round. This works well when the teacher moves from group to individual or individual to individual, rather than having students move to the teacher. Essential to this working is believing the best of our students even when their behaviour isn't perfect.

Guest Teachers
This section provides a sample lesson plan that can be quickly adapted for any planned or unplanned absence. It provides enough detail for any teacher to follow and allows students to support the teacher through well-established routines.

New Students to the Class
This section provides valuable tips on what to do when a new student joins a class part way through the year. Buddies are a key strategy, and new students also provide an ideal opportunity to review the Daily 5 I-charts with the whole class. When new students have lower stamina, this gives the teacher an ideal chance to do assessments with the new student, and to teach core lessons like how to choose Good-Fit books.

Parents
This section is about communicating the Daily 5 with parents. It includes a sample letter to parents to introduce them to The Daily 5.

Trusting Our Students and Our Teaching
This section reminded me that I don't have to get it all right first time, and that's OK. It highlights that I may not see evidence of learning in the same way as I have in the past, but I will see it in new, exciting, and authentic ways. I love the following comment from the authors:
"Our children help us learn to trust our teaching and prove that they deserve to be trusted to be independent. Our students rise to our high expectations, they meet high standards, and they willingly accept the responsibility to do so." (p.157)

So now you will have to wait until August 2014 when I get the chance to have a go at introducing The Daily 5 into my classroom here in Phnom Penh. Meanwhile, my next project is to thoroughly investigate The Cafe Book and see how I can use that alongside The Daily 5 in my classroom, using the resources I need to as part of our school wide curriculum.

For more of my reflections on "The Daily 5", check out these posts
Chapter 1: That Was Then, This is Now: How the Daily 5 Evolved.
Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5
Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
Chapter 4: What do you need to begin?
Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5
Chapter 6: Foundation Lessons

Chapter 7: When to Launch the Next Daily 5
Chapter 8: The Math Daily 3

Exploring the Daily 5 - Chapter 8

The Math Daily 3

"The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated but to make complicated things simple." Stanley Gudder (p.121)

Having seen the success of the Daily 5 in literacy, the authors began using the 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence in other curriculum areas. The next step was to apply the same principles of providing appropriate independent practise for students and opportunities for the teacher to work with individuals and small groups needing extra support, to mathematics. There was also a desire to provide students with activities that would lead to deeper understanding and problem solving. After refining the framework over time, what is presented in this chapter is the Math Daily 3:

  • Math by Myself
  • Math Writing
  • Math with Someone.

The activities for Math by Myself and Math with Someone provide practice on both current and recently completed units. Math Writing allows students to express their thinking and understanding through problem solving and problem writing.

Math Daily 3 Structure
As you would expect, Math Daily 3 uses a similar structure to the Daily 5, with short 7-10 minute focus lessons broken up by independent work time. The whole group lessons come from the school's math program, so Math Daily 3 can work whatever the program. With three focus lessons, the suggestion is the first lesson teaches the concept (I show), the next lesson is guided practice (we do), and the third lesson is problem solving related to the concept.

Math Daily 3 Overview
This section provides a sample lesson plan using the Daily 3. It helps me understand how I could break my lessons down into brain-friendly chunks for my students. It will definitely work with Go Maths.

What Do You Need to Begin Math Daily 3
While it is suggested that the Math gatherings take place in a different location to Literacy, that's not going to happen in my classroom. I simply don't have enough space. Another challenge is going to be wall space, but that can be overcome. One of the things I noted was that Math Daily 3 requires lots of materials such as manipulatives, dice, game boards, small whiteboards, etc. I'm sure I'll get creative as I find and organise these things. Specific suggestions for organising the various materials are provided, but it's really a matter of exploring options and finding out what works for me and my students.

Teaching the Foundation Lessons of Math Daily 3
This is a reminder of the Foundation Lessons from the Daily 5. One very important lesson, especially for Math with Someone and Math by Myself, is setting up and cleaning up materials.

Launching Math by Myself
Each Math by Myself activity will need to be taught as a focus lesson. This section gives a step-by-step demonstration of the 10 Steps as they apply to mathematics.

Teaching the Foundation Lessons: Math Writing
Math Writing is going to require some planning for me to implement. It is about students expressing their thinking and understanding using words, numbers and pictures. I need to clarify my thinking on this part of the program before I launch it.

Launching Math Writing
Again, the launch process involves creating an I-chart and this section provides details on the core behaviours and timing as well as introducing choice.

Launching Math With Someone
The foundation lesson, "How to Choose a Partner" is essential for Math with Someone. Each activity will also need to be taught. I already have a great source of activities for this options with the Go Maths Book of Facts and Fundamentals books. Once stamina is guilt, along with a variety of activities, choice can be extended to include Math With Someone.

The concluding paragraph highlights how students have experienced increased success in mathematics through tailored instruction and independent practice.

Some personal reflection
I'm thinking that I won't try to implement Math Daily 5 straight away, and maybe not even this year, until I get my head around using the Daily 5 and how I can make that work in my classroom. This isn't because I don't think it will work, I think it will, but rather because I know my limits when it comes to change. Introducing Daily 5 is going to make some pretty substantial changes in my classroom next year, and I need to be realistic about how much change I can cope with without overloading myself.

For more of my reflections on "The Daily 5", check out these posts
Chapter 1: That Was Then, This is Now: How the Daily 5 Evolved.
Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5
Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
Chapter 4: What do you need to begin?
Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5
Chapter 6: Foundation Lessons

Chapter 7: When to Launch the Next Daily 5

05 June 2014

Six days to go

Life at this end of the school year is hectic. I'll be honest and say I'm ready for the "summer" break, but it also won't be all just sitting around and relaxing. So what have I been up to, and what will I be doing in the next 8 days.

Things that are finished:

  • Writing Report cards
  • End of year concert

Things that still have to happen:

  • Saturday 7th June - end of year staff lunch
  • Tuesday 10th June - take class to see the Grade 6 Science Fair
  • Wednesday 11th June - end of year field trip to Kids City
  • Wednesday 11th June - stationery requests for next year due to me
  • Wednesday 11th June - teacher resources from leaving teachers due to me
  • Wednesday 11th June - teacher resource check-lists from returning teachers due to me
  • Wednesday 11th June - remember to send home report cards
  • Friday 13th June - review stationery requests and consult with principal over any unusual requests
  • Friday 13th June - Reading and Writing Continuums and Math Summary sheets to be completed for every student, along with a writing sample and running records.
  • Friday 13th June - last day of school

Once school is out, then I've got another "To Do" list including things like:

  • Dental check-up
  • Stationery Supply Purchasing
  • Create pictorial Math Manipulatives Catalogue
  • Check student workbooks for next year
  • Check teacher resources from leaving teachers and organise any replacement items that are needed
  • Buy fabric and make chair bags for my classroom
  • Lots of piano practice
  • Read lots of books
  • Start studying towards my Graduate Certificate in Education (Inclusive Education) which I hope will eventually lead to my Masters of Education
  • Prep my classroom for next year including setting up for The Daily 5
  • Review Science & Social Studies Units and think about how I can improve on them for next year
  • Write Unit plans for Language Arts Units
  • Read some more books
  • Catch up with friends
  • Watch a movie or two
  • Set up my plan book for the first half of next year
  • Take a trip to Bangkok for some Rest and Relaxation
  • and I'm sure I'll think of other things to do.
So that's what my life looks like for the next couple of months. I wonder how much I will actually achieve. Now you know why I need a long summer break. Believe me it won't all be "holidays"!



23 May 2014

Rainy season arrives with a vengeance

Life in Cambodia is always full of challenges and the unexpected. The last two afternoons as I've been working in my classroom I had to get the mop out! Yes, the rainy season appears to have begun. Yesterday afternoon was't too bad. I know from past experience that the rain tends to drip from the top of the window frame onto the floor when the rain comes from a certain direction, and that's what happened yesterday. Since I was still there when the leaking started, I quickly pulled up some of the foam mats and set them to dry. It wasn't too bad, and by the time we came in this morning all the water had evaporated. No problem.

This afternoon was a little different. I was sitting at my desk when it started, thinking, this isn't to heavy. Maybe it will be a light shower this evening. As I was thinking that things changed, and next thing I knew the  water was streaming down the windows. I went to take a photo, but quickly discovered that the windows weren't keeping that rain out. It was coming in, and quite a lot of things were in grave danger of a soaking, including posters, and sheets of cardboard, my keyboard, and my classroom library! I quickly moved everything I could, including my desk and filing cabinet. Then I heard the sound of secondary students coming down the stairs. They'd obviously just finished an exam, so I quickly recruited some of the young men to help me move the bookshelf with the classroom library on it. The photo below shows where there water reached (and it actually spread further after this photo was taken). Each of those tiles is about 50cm across, so you can see there's a fair bit of water there. Of course, moving things that hadn't been moved since August left a fair bit of grime exposed too, so I'll be busy cleaning the classroom tomorrow morning. Hopefully some of the water will have evaporated by then. 

The rain was blowing so hard our "internal" staircases had water flowing down them, and I'm positive my classroom won't be the only one that suffered water inundation. It was like someone turned a hose on full bore at the windows and just blasted them with water. I guess the windows will be lovely and clean now! I'm just glad I was there and able to get most of my stuff out of harms way.

The rain eased for a while, and then came back again, this time blowing in the opposite direction, so I don't think any classrooms will have totally escaped the impact. Might be a bit of cleaning up and throwing out to do on Monday morning. Eventually the storm lessoned, and I looked up to see the most amazing sunset through my classroom window. The photo below doesn't really capture it, but it was just beautiful. The sky was orange and red (almost like it was on fire). As I look at it, I'm reminded of just how powerful God is, and of His promises to never leave us. In the power of the storm, and rain, I was also reminded of His love, and the promise of a new day tomorrow.


Exploring the Daily 5 - Chapter 7

When to Launch the Next Daily 5

The key point here is that every group of students is different. Signs to watch for, which indicate readiness for the next Daily 5 choice include consistent demonstration of I-chart behaviours and stamina. Some suggestions are made about how much stamina is enough before introducing the next choice, but they are suggestions. It really will depend on the group of students.

Launching Work on Writing
I'm excited about this choice because I often come to the end of the year feeling my students haven't done enough writing. This will get them writing every day. An important point that was shared here is that there will still need to be separate "Writing Workshop" sessions when specific types of writing will be taught. In Daily 5 writing time, children choose whatever form of writing they like (story, poem, song lyrics, non-fiction, etc.) and then write for the whole time. Before launching Work on Writing, all the foundation lessons need to be taught, and then it's time to use the 10 Steps to Independence (Chapter 3) again. Because the children have been building stamina with Read to Self, it is likely that their starting stamina will be greater than it was for Read to Self, but not necessarily.

Introducing Choice
I love the honesty of the authors when they share their reluctance to "give up control" by giving choice. I know that won't be easy for me either. I also like what they say is at the heart of choice: "knowing the expectations, possessing the skills to meet them, being trusted to carry them out, and taking responsibility to do so." (p.111). Yes, the students are going to love being able to choose what activity they do at what time.

Check In
This involves a few minutes when children verbalise their choice and the teacher records it. Verbalising the choice breeds accountability, and the children get working quickly. Later in the process they will be able to state their goals and the strategies they are working on. Wow! I like that. This section includes tops for recording choices and for making the choice recording process go smoothly. An important point is made, that students who the teacher will be working with in a small group need to know this before choices are made and recorded so they are not disappointed.

Releasing Students into the Daily 5
This section suggests various ways to do this. It may be a case of try different ways and see what works for me.

Read to Someone.
When I read the list of benefits of Read to Someone I began to wonder why I hadn't tried it before. There are a considerable number of foundation lessons that need to be taught, and even re-taught, in order to make this choice work without chaos erupting, but those lessons, combined with the 10 Steps to Independence should result in a positive experience that the children enjoy and benefit from. Success will require planning and work, and the authors suggest this may well be the last choice to be introduced.

Listen to Reading
I already know the value of this, especially for my ELL students, so I'm determined to find a way to make this happen. Again technology access will be challenging, but I might be able to make a computer lab booking once a fortnight and do it that way. An interesting comment here is that not everyone needs to do Listen to Reading, although given my ELL population, I suspect most of mine will need to.

Word Work
This time provides children with essential practice for their individual word study needs. Primarily the focus seems to be on practising spelling or writing words that the students need to know or have discovered in their reading. This is definitely a "doing" choice that kinaesthetic learners will love. It also has the potential to become play, so clear instruction and development of an I-chart are important. The author's also suggest a ten minute limit, after which students put their materials away and move into either Read to Self or Work on Writing. That makes a lot of sense.

And that's the Daily 5. By the time all the choices are introduced, students should be developing habits of independent work in literacy, and the teacher will be busy working with students in small groups or individually, providing that much needed differentiated instruction.

For more of my reflections on "The Daily 5", check out these posts
Chapter 1: That Was Then, This is Now: How the Daily 5 Evolved.
Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5
Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
Chapter 4: What do you need to begin?
Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5
Chapter 6: Foundation Lessons

20 May 2014

Exploring the Daily 5 - Chapter 6

Foundation Lessons

This chapter provides additional information about the foundation lessons needed to implement each of the Daily 5 choices. It is supported by appendices and the content of other chapters and is very practical.

Read-to-Self Foundation Lessons
Much of this has already been covered so this section is very brief. Helping students choose places to sit where they can be successful is given attention here. Since I want the children to be successful, these tips will be valued.

Work-on-Writing Foundation Lessons
In this section I love the part where the authors discuss where children can get ideas to write about. I've often struggled with this, both as a student and as a teacher, so this section gave me some great ideas, as well as an example of how the lesson might come together.

Read-to-Someone Foundation Lessons
Lots of things to teach here, and lots for me to learn. This section highlights how children at different reading levels can work together and help each other. I especially appreciate the lesson on "Coaching or Time" as it models a constructive way for children to help each other without "telling the word".  Teaching children how to choose a partner might seem over the top, but I quickly realised how this lesson (taught in a variety of contexts) will enable every child to feel valued and respected every time they choose a partner or are chosen to be a partner.

Listen-to-Reading Foundation Lessons
This is going to be one of the most challenging Daily 5 for me to implement due to the limited supply of technology in our classrooms. I'm not complaining here, just telling how it is. I currently personally pay for a Reading A-Z & RAZ-Kids license, so I'm part way there, but the only computer in my classroom is my personal one (i.e. not school property). I'm going to think carefully about what to do here. Do I try and acquire an extra computer for students to use? If so, what do I get? Once I have one, where do I put it, and how do I ensure everyone has fair access. The other issue is Internet reliability. Most of the time it's OK, but this is still a developing country and Internet connections aren't always as fast or consistent as you'd hope. Some more thinking to do about this one.

Word-Work Foundation Lessons
This section didn't have a lot of detail, and it's an important area for my mostly ELL students, so I'll be doing some more reading and research on effective ways to build my students vocabulary and spelling ability.

In summary, this chapter was really practical and I now have a clearer understanding of how the foundation lessons are key to making the Daily 5 work well for both students and teacher.

For more of my reflections on "The Daily 5", check out these posts
Chapter 1: That Was Then, This is Now: How the Daily 5 Evolved.
Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5
Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
Chapter 4: What do you need to begin?
Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5
Chapter 7: When to Launch the Next Daily 5

16 May 2014

Exploring the Daily 5 - Chapter 5

Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5

Assuming the children entering my class are able to read on their own for extended periods is a mistake I've made in the past, and it probably sets us all up for problems. Teaching this skill is at the core of the Daily 5. Building stamina takes time. Specific focused instruction is essential. I think this is going to be a key area of improvement in my teaching and, as a result, in my student's learning. Something I don't recall learning or reading about before this is "gradual release". This involves repeated teaching, discussion and practise of the desired behaviour, until it becomes a habit. This makes sense, as does "moving slowly at first in order to move fast later on." (p.67).

The First Day
This section describes a substantially different first day to mine in Cambodia, but there are elements I can incorporate into my first day. Some things I can do include: walls with minimal decoration (waiting for documentation of student learning) and have books all around the room. I love that they get straight into learning on that first day too, because that is something I definitely do anyway.

Three Ways to Read a Book
I love the idea of starting the first day with this lesson, and I learnt something new here too! The three ways to read a book are:

  • Read the pictures
  • Read the words
  • Retell the story.

Read the pictures isn't something I'd have thought to do with my fourth graders, but it makes a lot of sense. Even a "struggling reader" or a student who is relatively new to English (and that is not unusual in my school) can read the pictures. By teaching this as a valid way to read a book, I'm straight away ensuring that everyone can get involved. The validation of this as a legitimate way to read a book will help build up those who find reading in English a challenge.

I really appreciate the way the authors have given a full description of an actual lesson at this stage, because it helps me understand more clearly what they are talking about, and gives me ideas of how I can tackle it. I'm sure my lesson will be a little different to their lesson but I've got a great starting point. I also love the idea that uses a paired sharing process, but has the children share their partner's thinking with the whole group. As the authors mention, this is a great way to build good listening skills in the children.

The recommendation to teach only the first and second ways of reading in the first lesson also makes a lot of sense, to keep this focus lesson under 10 minutes, in keeping with Brain Research. Teaching retelling at a later time on the same day or the next day also makes sense. To actually teach "retelling" is something I've neglected in the past. I regularly use retelling  to evaluate comprehension, but I'm pretty sure I've never considered as a way to read a book, and I like that idea. The demonstration lesson also made it clear how the Check for Understanding comprehension strategy can be incorporated into the lesson without have to explicitly teach it.

At Last - We Launch Read to Self
I love this structure. This is where it all comes together, using the 10 Steps to Teaching Independence from chapter 3. One or two rounds might happen at this stage. Given my short (1 hour) language arts blocks, it's probably going to be one round now, with the chance of another round later in the day. One advantage I have is that I usually have a fair idea of student reading levels (based on the reading continuum and running records from the third grade teachers), apart from a few new students,so I can have some books selected ahead of time to get students started. I'd love it if the children who arrive at school early could come and refresh their book boxes then, but that's not how things work at my school, so I'll need to work out other times when they can do that.

Integrating Foundation Lessons
This section provides information on the other core lessons that can be taught during the first weeks of school, especially when the children's stamina for independent reading is limited. All the lessons are short (no more than 10 minutes), and they teach the foundational skills needed for the whole of Daily 5 to be effective and productive. Each part of Daily 5 has its own set of foundation lessons which are covered in some detail in either this chapter or the next. For Read to Self there are three foundation lessons:

  • Three ways to read a book (already covered);
  • I PICK Good Fit Books; and
  • Choose a successful spot.

Between foundation lessons and Daily 5 practice sessions it's important to have "Brain and Body Breaks", which usually involve movement of some kind and a change of focus.

I PICK Good-Fit Books
As I read this section I was excited by it. I've got a new idea to talk about with my students. I've also realised two mistakes I've made in my current classroom library book selection process. The first thing is that I tend to rush the children too much, and the second is that I haven't given them a strategy they can use outside the classroom. So I'm looking forward to intoducing:
I PICK Good-Fit BooksI select a book and look it over, inside and out.
P urpose: Why might I want to read it?
I nterest: Does it interest me?
C omprehend: Do I understand what I'm reading?
K now: Do I know most of the words? (page 74)
I love the analogy used in the sample lesson, where the authors compare choosing books with choosing shoes. This is going to be a fun lesson to teach. Another point emphasised in this section is that this lesson is not a lesson to teach once and then assume all the students have "got it". It will need to be revisited often during the year, with the whole class, with small groups, and with individuals in conferences. Being able to chose Good-Fit books is essential to developing a love of reading. There is one suggestion made about book shopping time that may work really well in my situation, and that is to have "Book Shopping" as a Daily 5 choice once a week.

Adding Other Foundation Lessons
This section provides examples of how foundation lessons for other Daily 5 choices are introduced on the first day. These foundation lessons include:
Work on Writing
  • Dealing with unknown words
  • Writing notebooks
  • What to write about
Read to Someone
  • Check for understanding
  • EEKK (elbow, elbow, knee, knee)
  • Voice level
  • How partners read
  • How to get started
  • Coaching or time
  • How to choose a partner
Listen to Reading
  • Set up the technology
  • Listen and follow along
  • Fair and equitable use
Word Work
  • Set up and clean up
  • Choose materials
  • Choose a successful spot
Obviously it's impossible to teach all these on the first day or two, but over the first few weeks they all need to happen, some more than once. The example lessons are clear and easily adaptable, and made a lot of sense to me. I hope they'll make sense to my students as well.

This chapter finishes with a great comment about teaching procedures. It's really important to think through exactly what procedures are desired (needed), because what we teach at the start of the year is largely what will happen for the rest of the year! It's really hard to change a procedure once it has been established, so I need to do a fair bit of thinking ahead on that one.

For more of my reflections on "The Daily 5", check out these posts
Chapter 1: That Was Then, This is Now: How the Daily 5 Evolved.
Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5
Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
Chapter 4: What do you need to begin?
Chapter 6: Foundation Lessons
Chapter 7: When to Launch the Next Daily 5

03 May 2014

Exploring the Daily 5 - Chapter 4

What do you need to begin?

So here is where the real planning starts. What do I need if I'm seriously going to implement the Daily 5 in my classroom next year? Is it going to cost a lot to get started? Can I really make it work in my classroom. After reading this chapter, I'm pretty sure I can do it, without it costing a lot, but there are some things I need to find and work out.

Chimes - The quiet signal
I love the idea of using a set of wind chimes to signal transitions. I'm going to have fun looking for something like that over the summer. Teaching students what the quiet signal means will be an important part of the first day, and even the first week, of school.

Chart Rack or Interactive Whiteboard
Well, I don't have either of these, but I do have some alternatives that will work. What I do have will be used for creating I-Charts, as well as teaching focus lessons. I've got a medium sized whiteboard on an easel that I can turn into a chart rack by adding a couple of big bull-dog clips to it, and I've got access to a data projector and document camera so I'll be using them as well. Data projector onto the ordinary whiteboard works really well, and I can always take a quick snapshot with the digital camera to make sure I've got a record of work we've done.

Tools, Not Toys.
This paragraph has suggestions for some tools that will help "barometer" students to develop their stamina at their own pace. These tools will allow them to have a short brain break without disturbing the rest of the class. They won't come out straight away, and I may not even need them, but I'll be prepared. Things I'll be including might be mini-Lego kits, pattern block, tangrams, puzzles, as well as timers (hour glass/electronic). I've already got some of the suggested items and I can have fun looking for some others over the break.

Book Boxes
The purpose of these is for the children to have immediate access to enough reading material right where they are, so they can work for extended periods of time without needing to move to get a new book. I'm going to have fun looking for sturdy and affordable solutions for this. This section also talks about the classroom library and I'm very grateful to those people who've helped me build mine over the past four years. I could still use more non-fiction books and more picture books, but I've definitely got enough to launch the Daily 5.

A Gathering Place and Focus Lessons
The gathering place is a very important part of the classroom. It is where whole class instruction happens and will need the relevant teaching tools. The author's suggest three pay-offs for having students sitting on the floor in a contained area: behaviour management, deeper thinking through discussion, and reduced distractions. I've already got one of these places in my classroom and I use it a lot. I'm looking forward to using it even more effectively in the coming year. Transitions to and from the gathering place provide brain breaks for students. Ten minute focus lessons should lead to better retention of concepts. Developing these ten minute lessons is going to be a challenge for me, but a very worthwhile one.

I-Charts
These are charts which are developed during learning. They state goals, expected behaviours, and other relevant information. At a minimum there will be one for each of the Daily 5 choices. They provide students with a visual reminder of what has been learnt and what is expected. I was excited earlier this year to discover proper sheets of poster card in various colours at my favourite stationery store, so I'll be stocking up on that.

Classroom Design
I found this section really interesting, with its suggestions for a variety of seating and working spaces. While my classroom isn't small, it's also not that large, so I'm going to need to do some creative thinking about how I can practically offer students varied seating options. I'm thinking I might see if I can swap one of my tables for a lower one, with smaller chairs, and maybe even some small foam mats that children can sit/kneel on to work at. I know that each year I have a few students for whom our current tables are a little high, so it's worth considering. I'll probably need to use the gathering place for independent work as well to allow more flexibility. Being comfortable is important for building stamina, so I've definitely got some thinking and planning to do on this one.

So, in summary, I have a lot of what I need, but there are a few things I still need to find and work out. Is it doable? Yes, definitely.

For more of my reflections on "The Daily 5", check out these posts
Chapter 1: That Was Then, This is Now: How the Daily 5 Evolved.
Chapter 2: Our Core Beliefs: The Foundations of the Daily 5
Chapter 3: The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
Chapter 5: Launching Read to Self - The First Daily 5
Chapter 6: Foundation Lessons
Chapter 7: When to Launch the Next Daily 5