The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence
How do I teach students a new skill or behaviour? Do I give my students a chance to use all three (visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic) memory systems? Do I give adequate opportunity for practise? This set of 10 steps is based on an analysis of the behaviours being asked of students. The 10 steps set the Daily 5 apart from other classroom/literacy management models. Here goes with my reflections on the steps.
Step 1. Identify what is to be taught.
How often have I done this? If I'm honest, I would say not often enough. One of the first things I remember learning about public speaking was "tell them what you are going to say, say it, then tell them what you told them". Why is it that I so often fail to apply that to my teaching. It will take little effort on my part, but has the potential to make a big difference in my students' ability to focus on what we are learning.
Step 2. Set a purpose and Create a sense of Urgency.
I like to know why I should do a task, so it makes sense that the children would like to know this too. Recording the reasons for whatever I am teaching will help students have both purpose and urgency. I love the example in this section, but you'll just have to get hold of the book to enjoy it. It's worth it.
Step 3. Record Desired Behaviours on an I-Chart
To keep this step to a brain-friendly time frame there is no brainstorming here. The desired behaviours for teachers and students are recorded on the chart and briefly explained. An important point here is phrasing desired behaviours in positive terms, i.e. what we want to see, not a list of don'ts. e.g. "Walk Please" instead of "Don't Run".
Step 4. Model Most-Desirable Behaviours
It's one thing to see something written down, but seeing a classmate modelling correct behaviour is going to be much more powerful. Linking that correct behaviour to the I-Chart and to the purpose of the activity will also help the children remember.
Step 5. Model Least-Desirable Behaviours, then Most-Desirable Behaviours Again.
This step could be a bit of fun, but it's purpose if very serious. At first this step seemed counter-productive, but as I continued reading it made sense. By giving a student a chance to be silly, and highlighting why this behaviour won't result in students becoming better readers, followed by another demonstration of desirable behaviours (preferably by the same student), and linking that to the I-Chart and the purpose of becoming better readers, students are more likely to remember the right thing to do. Modelling some inappropriate (or least-desirable) behaviours also has the added benefit of preventing the "But I didn't know I shouldn't do that!" comments.
Step 6. Place students around the room.
The purpose of this step is to give all students a chance to experience the various different work places around the classroom. Given that my classroom is not large, I'm going to have do some creative thinking to come up with some different working spaces, while ensuring I have adequate work surfaces for other subjects. I've got some seeds floating around in my brain, so we'll have to see which ones I can germinate. A key point here was that this step needs to happen quickly so the first students don't run out of stamina before the final student is allocated a place to sit. Sending groups of students to places will help with that.
Step 7. Practise and Build Stamina
This is where the students get to practise what they have just learnt. They key point here, I think, is that building stamina takes time, and every group of students will be different. Some will build stamina rapidly while others take a little longer, and progress in smaller increments. The other important fact here is to be guided by the children's behaviour, rather than the clock. A visual record of progress in the form of a "Stamina Chart" means the children can see their progress.
Step 8. Stay out of the way.
This step happens at the same time as Step 7. It's time for the teacher to stay in one place and observe behaviour, without any interactions, verbal or non-verbal, with the children. This is the time to identify "barometer" children and to watch for signs that their stamina is done! This step also happens only during the learning phase. Once children have learnt to be independent, the teacher can conference with individuals or work with small groups, knowing the rest of the class is working independently.
Step 9. Use a Quiet Signal to Bring Students Back to the Gathering Place.
The authors were fairly quick to highlight that once one child's stamina is done it is time to bring the class/group back together. Using a "Quiet Signal" is a respectful and non-vocal way of doing this. More about this in Chapter 4.
Step 10. Conduct a Group Check-In; Ask, "How Did It Go?"
This final step gives students a chance to reflect on how they went, and to set a personal goal for the next session. The book shares one method of students sharing their reflections without having to say a word, but with the assurance the teacher notices how they went. Goals may be recorded or unrecorded, but the children will know their own goal.
So what's next. Sometimes another round of these 10 steps is appropriate, other times it may be time to move on to something completely different. Developing independence requires, and building stamina requires gradual extension of the practise periods. In the first weeks of school this might be 3 or 4 sessions during the course of a single school day. Reviewing the I-charts and modelling behaviours may seem time consuming initially, but it will ultimately result in those desired behaviours becoming default behaviours.
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 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