Saturday, July 11, 2015

Integrating Daily 5 with Reading Street: A Plan

Ever since I found out I was moving to 3rd grade for this fall, I have had ideas swirling in my head about how best to tackle literacy instruction. 3rd grade has, historically, struggled in our district to make the gains needed to get and keep kiddos on level for the next grade. It is utterly absurd to assume that means every 3rd grade teacher we have is incompetent because that isn't true. We have very hard working teachers in our district for the most part. But I know for me this means I have to do things a bit differently than I have done working with bigger kids.

For many years I have really wanted to give Daily 5 a whirl but I have always found a reason to resist it. I don't know why. Maybe I'm just deep-down-honest-to-goodness afraid of giving up that level of control. Alas, I think this is going to be the year I have to kick myself in the pants and just make it happen. We use Reading Street and for a long time I really felt tied to what the "5 day Plan" our district created told me to do. Partly because I knew this was going to be something my principal would look at when I was being observed but also because I didn't feel confident enough to really make the call to go outside of what I was told to do.

I'm not afraid to break the mold anymore. Not because I am just a big brat (although I kind of am), but because I feel confident enough in my own teaching ability to know what is right for my kids and for me. I want to move as much away from whole group teaching as I can. I really think if I can focus the vast majority of my teaching day on small group instruction, I am going to get better results and have happier, more engaged kids. 

I will still use several aspects of Reading Street that I really think help me see if my students are making progress on the skills I am teaching them but I want to try to integrate those things into the Daily 5 process. There are some skill based sheets in the Readers Writers Notebook that comes with the series that I like to use with my kids to really focus in on skill building which I can utilize in my small groups along with phonics work and other authentic reading strategy work. Plus, one thing I was thinking since I'm reading the 2nd edition (which is SO much better than the original book) is that I can utilize the whole group focus lesson times for a combination of shared reading, word work /grammar and CAFE lessons. I am actually keeping a list of ideas going in my home office as I think of them so I'm ready to really dig in once I start actual lesson planning for the year (which won't happen until I have a schedule of my specials, recess and lunch times). 

I think I will use a Daily 3 format with 3 rounds, one of which has to be Read to Self. Two days per week the kids will utilize Read to Someone to do focused reading in our leveled readers and two days per week they will do grammar/word work. My low groups would meet with the teacher four times and the high intermediate and high kids would meet with the teacher three times each week. This setup would ideally allow the kids to have 1-2 "extra" rounds each week to practice in an area they feel they need more work or to catch up on something if they were absent or were pulled out for something. The schedule itself will be worked out once I have kids and have been able to do some initial testing to place them in groups. (Writing is not included because it would be in a separate writing block entirely.) 

In the 2nd edition of the Daily Five, they emphasize not going over 10 minutes in the whole group focus lessons. I think this is a great reminder because sometimes *I* have trouble focusing longer than that if I haven't had some movement or a shift in thinking to keep me engaged. I want to utilize the videos that come with Reading Street for the introduction to the weekly skills and story and they are very short and would fit into this format. 

Tenatively (very tentatively) I am thinking of something like this:

R1: Concept Talk & Envision it background videos (6-8 minutes total)
R2: Grammar Jammar video & vocabulary activity
R3: Fresh Read mini-lesson on the weekly reading strategy

R1: Spelling pattern activity
R2: Grammar activity (on chart paper whole group)
R3: Skill lesson activity (on chart paper or overhead)

R1: Grammar activity
R2: Cafe lesson
R3: Cafe lesson

R1: Spelling pattern activity
R2: cafe lesson
R3: cafe lesson

R1: Grammar activity
R2: Cafe lesson
R3: Cafe lesson

It is a huge work in progress but I like this format because a) I can utilize areas of Reading Street that I think do really help me focus my instruction on what kids are expected to know (and will be tested on at the end of the week) and b) there is a nice balance between the lesson areas from RS and the CAFE lessons that just support kids as readers. Sometimes I have felt in the past that I didn't have enough time to really help my kids focus in on the grammar skills that are sooooo important. If I can make this sort of schedule work, it will allow me to reinforce those grammar concepts in our writing block later and the kids are really getting double dipped on it without realizing that's what we are doing. 

I am also thinking of how I would best utilize my small group time. I do not want to use the leveled readers in my small groups because I have another strategy I have used with those before that I'd like to use again (that's a post for another day!). Instead, what I really want to do is take the main story selection into my small group time and then focus on the skill and strategy concepts within the group. I am not a huge worksheet kind of teacher BUT I do really like the skill and strategy pages that Reading Street has for two reasons 1) the texts are short so my low kids don't get overwhelmed and my high kids can really focus on a set skill without worry of overanalyzing and 2) the texts usually go along with the main story but with different characters which helps boost comprehension as it is almost like paired reading selections. 

In my perfect teaching life, I will have 4 groups: 1 low, 1 low-medium, 1 medium-high and 1 high. Of course I realize it won't split super evenly like that but it would be ideal. It wouldn't surprise me to start with 2 "low" groups either with summer slide and all of that. What I'm thinking right now is that my low and low-medium groups would see me four times per week as those are the students who are going to need to have more face-to-face time. My medium-high and high kids are going to see me 3 times per week. 

The medium-high and high kids would read the story with me in small group one day and then the other two days would utilize the skill/strategy worksheets and/or grammar/spelling focus sheets to provide focused teaching where I can quickly assess their understanding but also correct misconceptions. The low and low-medium kiddos would have the same types of set up but we would spend 2 days on the actual story reading to help scaffold their reading and provide the front load those friends are more likely to need.

I'm quite honestly terrified and thrilled to be considering this format. I think it will be much more engaging for the kids as they will have focused things they can choose to work on in their Daily 3 and I am not going to be spending my time trying to reign in kids who have lost their focus. I've got some more brainstorming to do on this for sure, but once I get into my school and have my hands on my materials (not to mention know who my teaching partner is and can plan with him/her!) I am looking forward to really refining what this will look like and tweaking it from what it looks like in my brain to how it will really work with children to make them into amazingly awesome readers. 


  1. It sounds like you have a great plan! I know that there is a Daily 5 book study going on now, and The Brown Bag Teacher has a great post on using Daily 5 with Reading Street. I hope it works out!

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. I feel the same way you do in that I am now confident enough to use what I like from the adopted program and then figure out the rest based on what the kids need. I did a very modified Daily 5 last year in Kinder and my students LOVED it. It made me realize how important it is to allow them choice in their literacy activities. I was super lenient on all the "rules" of Daily 5 and I let them choose each day (no requirement to rotate) and it was one of their favorite times of the day. They were highly engaged in reading and writing activities and made great progress--more importantly they LOVED the time to read and write. Kindergarten is so rigorous now that was just the one time in the day when I let them take the lead on what they felt like working on.