I love the quote on the front page of this chapter.
"Respected adults engage in respect-full interactions in which respectful students can bloom." Marie-Nathalie BeaudoinThe Daily 5 is built on a foundation of seven core beliefs. These are:
- Trust and Respect
- Brain Research
- Transitions as Brain and Body Breaks
- 10 Steps to Independence.
This chapter discusses the first six, while the whole of chapter 3 is devoted to the 10 steps to independence. So what did I find out about these core beliefs and how does that relate to me, teaching 4th grade at EWIS.
Trust and Respect
"Each child is worthy of trust and respect." (p.22)In order for trust to be effective, it needs to be in the context of extended instruction and practice of the skills necessary for students to be authentically independent. There will be times when stamina falters, but that simply provides opportunity for reteaching and then extending trust again. By respectfully refocusing students, they know they can try again.
"Trust is believing the best of others, even if actions and behaviours seem incongruent." (p.23)
At EWIS, respect is an important part of our school culture, so there's certainly no conflict with The Daily 5 from that perspective. After reading this section, I can see how The Daily 5 structure will help me to be more respectful of my students each and every day.
Building on trust and respect comes a caring and learning environment. EWIS is a community and shared experiences bind classes together. As each new year begins, classes change, students leave, new students come, and classes are mixed to form new class groups. Through the development of community, the children will help each other to "do the right thing", without the need for "authority" to step in. The example in this section highlights how students can help and teach each other, enabling all students to know they are valued members of the community and can be successful.
This is going to be a challenging area for me in some ways, because hand-in-hand with giving children choice is a release, by the teacher, of "control". We all like to feel that we are in control of our situation. Why should children desire that any less than adults. I think what is going to make it possible for me to relinquish some "control" is the way The Daily 5 teaches students to be independent. After a process of learning and developing stamina, the children will eventually get to choose not only what they will read and write, but when and where they do it, within the boundaries of the Daily 5 structure. With those choices will also come:
"With the Daily 5, we needed to be accountable to our students by thoroughly teaching them what it looks like, feels like, and sounds like to participate in these productive tasks." (p.27)Some of the things children become accountable for are choosing locations where they can work independently and maintain stamina, noise levels, and choosing "good-fit" books to read.
"Meaningful independence is the ultimate in student accountability." (p.28)
Our principal regularly gives us tips and hints based on her reading on brain research, so I know she'll like this bit. A key point in this section is the need to keep direct instruction to no more minutes than our students' age. This is going to be a challenge, but I'm already trying to do this to some extent with this year's class. Another important idea is to turn the 80/20 rule into a 20/80 rule, whereby 20% of class time is spent on direct instruction, and 80% is spent on meaningful practice, with focused, just-in-time coaching of individuals or small groups as needed. The third point in this section is that time spent reading is usually directly reflected in reading achievement. Short direct instruction time will give more time for reading!
Transitions as Brain Breaks
I'm sure most people reading this know how hard it is to sit in one position for extended periods of time. For me, a great example is the long haul flight from Australia to South East Asia (be that Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore). I have learnt to request an aisle seat because I just cannot sit for 8 hours without getting restless, and the aisle seat allows me to get up and move around without disturbing other passengers. Children also need to move, and the Daily 5 structure uses transitions to give children these opportunities to move. Daily 5 transitions provide:
- A physical break from independent work
- The movement children's bodies need
- A brain break to help refocus
- A natural timing for 10 minute focus lessons.
I particularly noticed that teaching children how to transition well is part of the 10 steps to Independence which are the focus of the next chapter so I'm looking forward to that.
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 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