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.

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

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