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.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.
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)
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 WritingObviously 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.
Read to Someone
- Dealing with unknown words
- Writing notebooks
- What to write about
Listen to Reading
- 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
- Set up the technology
- Listen and follow along
- Fair and equitable use
- Set up and clean up
- Choose materials
- Choose a successful spot
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