A Daily 5 Update

Hi Friends.  Good to see you again.  I hope that you've enjoyed the day off (in Kentucky every district is closed on Election Day due to so many schools being polls).

I thought I'd give you a peek at my classroom with the Daily 5 structure.  And I would love to hear what's happening in your classroom.

I guess because it's my second year implementing it, this year it appears to be more successful than last year.  Last year I strictly adhered to the pacing guide in the back of the CAFE book.  And (as this often happens when I compare myself) I thought I had failed miserably.  For example : if my class still needed practice on Read to Someone procedures, but I was supposed to introduce a new element, I felt really stressed-like I wasn't going to be able to cover all the common core.

Starting the Daily 5/CAFE

This year I decided that my expectations needed to be more realistic.  And because I moved at my own pace, I feel much more comfortable with the routines and I think the kids are receiving instruction based on needs, not on a pre-set guide.

This year I decided instead of incorporating both D5 and CAFE simultaneously, I would get my D5 under control and then move onto CAFE.  (Maybe you already do that and this isn't a big deal to you.  For me, it was a life changer.)

I kept repeating the mantra, "Don't Hurry-Trust is in the Process" or whatever it was.  And now I am reaping the benefits of it.

This is How We Roll

I stick to the structures of the Daily 5 but have made it work for my room. We do the mini-lesson followed by work.  Here's the rundown:

My first mini-lesson either involves phonemic awareness or phonics.  We may spend about 5-15 minutes on that and then they go to their first choice.  Because having too much stuff in a room gives me claustrophobia overstimulates me, I keep a clipboard with the numbers on it (today is day 55 so they all know their number by now) and I ask each kid what they want to do and they tell me.  I simply put a line through that choice instead of marking 1, 2, 3.  The charts where the kids move their name or clip onto their choice is cute, but it's not me.  Plus, my people forget what they've already done so it's nice to be able to look at the blank boxes and say, "You may do Read to Self or Word Work". 

During the indepent time, I keep a large timer counting up on the smartboard.  Because if I'm not careful, it's easy to get wrapped up in my group-even with the timer I'm guilty.  But even if you don't keep a timer going, you will be able to see when your students are ready to stand up, stretch their legs and do something else. 

During the independent time, they do 4 of the 5 centers as described in the books.  I've modified the D5 some by changing Listen to Reading.  My school has purchased Lexia as a supplement to our reading program so instead of doing Listen to Reading they do Lexia instead. 

After about 20 minutes we re-group.  During the 20 minutes of independence is when I meet with small groups or conference-whatever is needed most.  I am incredibly blessed to have an assistant, one who is just plain awesome and she will pull kids or groups as well. 

We continue with the second mini-lesson, usually on a comprehension strategy and then dismiss into our second round of D5.  Same as before-the adults work with kids and the kids work independently. 

We are usually able to work 15-20 minutes for the second round.  Then we regroup again and do a third mini-lesson followed by independent work.  The third mini-lesson usually involves writing-letter formation mostly.  I also have another 30 minutes built in specifically for writing instruction, but that's another entry.

Snacks and Consequences 

After the first mini-lesson and making a D5 choice, the kids do not pass go, do not collect $200, etc.  They walk straight to their mailboxes and get their snack and take it to the center with them.  They are allowed to eat their snack while working and after finishing snack they are allowed to get a quick drink and visit the restroom if they wish.  I'm incredibly lucky because we have two fountains and the bathrooms right outside my  door so we can watch them go in and come out or hear any monkey business that might be occurring. 

Now that being said, please don't take me for a pigeon.  We are well aware of who is wasting time or on task and how many times they've gotten up to get a new book.  Which is where the consequences begin.  It's like anything else-they get a warning and we talk about why they need to work.  If they keep it up, they move their clip.  They get a second warning if it continues.  We've talked a lot about how we trust them to learn on their own and generally they respect it-we still have kids who just want to walk around or talk to a friend, but that's just a normal classroom to me.  If a kid tries to interrupt I have a pointer I extend.  If they can be touched by the pointer then they lose their D5 and must work with me.  You only get tapped once-it does the trick.  Freedom is a precious, precious commodity.

RTI and the Daily 5

At our school, the teachers perform the Tier 2 interventions in the classroom.  We actually have a 30 minute block in the room where those who need additional support receive it.  As we were contemplating how to make this work the question was, "How can we support those kids who don't need RTI?  What will they be doing?"  These questions posed no threat to me. With that additional time we simply finish our Daily 5.  When we do this in the afternoons, I don't do a mini-lesson because there simply isn't enough time.  But we do get to work with kids who need help on a daily basis and I'm not planning centers for the other students. 


I am really happy with how this year's been.  The kindergarteners seem to really like it too.  Last week we put on our Halloween costumes and walked to the nursing home and sang.  We were too, too cute.  Anyway, by the time we changed into, walked, sang, walked back and changed again, it was time for lunch.  And let me tell you, the natives were restless when they heard we would not be doing Daily 5 until after lunch. 

Last Words and Unsolicited Advice

The nice thing about Daily 5 is that you can really tailor it to your classroom's needs.  You can sit down and ask yourself, "What seriously makes me crazy?" and train them not just to not do it, but other activities they can do instead. 

My advice for anyone who is dissatisfied or unhappy with their reading workshop is this: You can do it.  (Anyone else hear Adam Sandler just now?)  Think about what makes you unhappy and brainstorm ways to solve it.  Ask a colleague.  Read-there are some fabulous blogs that will help you.  There are gobs of resources to help you launch Daily 5 (I printed about three different ones and then pieced together what I liked from each one).  Go to Teachers Pay Teachers (don't even get me started on how much wasteful productive time I spend there).  You like monkeys? There are jungle themed posters to use in your room.  You like frilly?  There are some pink and girly D5/CAFE posters.  You don't like cutesy?  Guess what-there is something for you there. 

And last but not least-give yourself time and room to grow.  Don't get discouraged-model, practice, re-model, re-practice.  Follow your teacher sense.  Don't forget to give yourself plenty of time.  There is beauty in the waiting.

But enough about me-how's Daily 5/CAFE in your room?


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