#1 READ THE BOOK!
It is not an extensive read, it will take you a couple of days tops. It will open your eyes to a whole new world of independence in your classroom and make your life so much easier! So read the book! There are no short cuts to implementing this in your classroom. I reread it every summer to get back in the groove. I also carry it with me like a lesson plan book in those first few weeks so I don't forget anything!
You can get the book HERE. I read the original, there is a second edition too that is just as good if not better (yes I have both!) but I prefer my original copy with all of my notes in it.
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After you read the book you will still have questions. You will be nervous. You will second guess yourself. That's OK! I was really lucky to work for a principal who supported me in this endeavor who gave me a little wiggle room to try something new in my classroom. I filled her in on the WHY and the HOW so when she walked in my room and saw me doing nothing while we were building STAMINA the first 6 weeks she wouldn't freak out. I had no idea if I was doing it "right" the first year but it FELT right so I kept on going.
#3 You will feel like you are not doing anything.
You will. You will think, "Oh my gosh I should be teaching small groups by now"...or "I need to get to all of my curriculum and I'm running out of time". Believe me you are doing plenty to create a foundation the first 6 weeks of school if you follow the sisters advice. We work and work and work on procedures and building STAMINA those first few weeks and solidifying the purpose of reading and the LOVE of reading in the first few weeks. Those things last all year long! If I ask my class why we practice reading every day they know the answer, "To become better readers....because we love it....because it helps us learn new things". They aren't just saying those things, they believe them too. So it may look like you aren't doing anything but your efforts will stick with you all year long.
#4 It is flexible!
I started the first year by following every single piece of advice that the sisters gave me (as you should!). They are THAT GOOD, I wanted to be just like them! Then I found that I needed to tweak my listening station a little bit to make sure everyone got there. I have a required computer program that my students need to visit 15 minutes each day, so I had to tweak that. I wasn't comfortable with moving to a completely choice driven rotation time so I made a schedule for them to follow and we followed it every day. Students marked the centers they had completed on a board and I kept a checklist of who I had met with.
Now that being said...
I am in my 5th year of Daily 5 and I do have a completely choice driven rotation time now. My students make the choice to go to word work, listen to reading, read to self, or work on writing during our first rotations of the morning (a full hour). I don't keep track for them, I don't make them put it on the board, they are just responsible enough to do it. They WANT to visit each station because they motivated and excited to complete each station. We still do read to someone all at the same time, I haven't been able to let that one go yet but that's ok too!
#5 Do what works for YOU!
It is your classroom and you are a trained professional. If something doesn't feel right then don't do it. If this style fits you then go for it! I've had friends that have tried and decided that this model didn't fit their teaching style. I know in the beginning it feels overwhelming and you may want to quit. I would encourage you to give it 6 weeks. I feel like the magic begins to happen after week 3 but really 6 weeks in your classroom can practically run itself. I have a really great small group guided reading time and we made so much progress last year because I could work ONE ON ONE with kiddos and give them the attention they deserve. It's all about independence.
If you want to see what the first few days look like you can see my post from last school year HERE. We start from day 1!
My goals for Daily 5 this year? I want to attend a conference (I am trying for November), I want to start a full choice rotation sooner, and I want to support my colleagues that are starting up this year to help them be successful and love it as much as I do.
So what do you think? What are your questions? How do you Daily 5? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. I am going to go read my Daily 5 book and write some lesson plans for the first week of school that is less than a week away!