The Daily 5: Read to Self and Work on Writing

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 -- Madison Michell

In last week's post, we took a closer look at the Daily 5™ framework and the role it can serve in your classroom as a balanced literacy rotation model. This week, we’ll explore the first two components of the Daily 5, “Read to Self” and “Work on Writing.”

Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, the educators behind the Daily 5, detail the “10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence” that should be followed during the rollout of each new Daily 5 component in their published work. Before you’re ready to begin, however, consider these best practices, common pitfalls to avoid, and classroom resources to help ensure a smooth implementation.

Read to Self

The “Read to Self” component is just what it sounds like: during this time your students are each equipped with books, seated alone, and reading independently. While this may seem pretty straightforward, creating a classroom full of independent readers with extended stamina requires slow and thoughtful execution. Three key strategies are outlined here:

  • Teach Students the 3 Ways to Read a Book

Boushey and Moser suggest teaching three different ways to read that encourage fluid practice from the very beginning. By reading the pictures, even the earliest learners begin to understand the elements of a story; by reading the words, the most conventional definition of reading is explored; and by retelling the story, students learn the importance of comprehending what they read.

Through introducing this strategy, you begin to create a classroom environment where all students feel that they can be successful. This is particularly helpful for younger students or English language learners, who may not yet be reading.

  • Encourage the “I-PICK” Good-Fit Books Method

Before students can start reading independently, they need to be equipped with the right books to suit their needs. Think about those students who spend all their time “choosing” a book in your classroom library only to find the right one just as you call time, and you’ll quickly see the merit of this approach.

As a strategy developed by Boushey and Moser, “I-PICK” teaches students to consider purpose, interest, comprehension, and word knowledge when making their book selections. Model, think aloud, and confer with small groups regularly to help instill this practice with your young learners.

  • Provide Quality Reading Materials

If the Daily 5 is carried our correctly (and actually on a daily basis) the depth and breadth of your classroom reading materials may come into question. By adding educational technology programs, such as Reading Eggs for K–2 learners and Reading Eggspress for students in grades 2–6, you can provide an engaging, Web-based reading option for your students.

In these online solutions, students can browse over 2,000 fiction and nonfiction titles in a virtual library to select their good-fit book by genre or Lexile® level. Stories also include a short comprehension quiz, encouraging readers to apply their knowledge about all three ways they read a book.

Work on Writing

During this rotation, students should have extended time to practice and the freedom to explore different writing topics. “Work on Writing” can be used to continue the writing style or process that is being taught in a separate writing workshop outside of the Daily 5, but this should not always be the case. Sustained writing of any form a student chooses should remain the focus of this rotation. A few key strategies for success are detailed below:

  • Choose What to Write About

For many students, thinking of a topic can be the hardest aspect of writing. Without creating specific expectations around this practice, you may see your students’ focus quickly shift from writing to building a tower out of the writing center supplies. To avoid losing their concentration, encourage your students to create a repository of writing ideas—collected and organized into anchor charts and student writing notebooks for quick and easy access.

  • Underline Words That You Don’t Know How to Spell, and Move On

Critical to success in “Work on Writing,” this strategy is specifically meant to help your students maintain their writing flow without losing track of their thoughts or causing extended periods of frustration. It’s a terrible moment as a teacher when you scan through writing samples from your class to see that your 1st graders were stumped after two lines because they struggled to spell “rollercoaster” or “chameleon.”

Keep this from happening by teaching your students to not be afraid of using rich and explicit words that are above their spelling level. Model the writing process, thinking aloud in front of your students as you stumble upon a difficult word yourself. By underlining the word and quickly moving on, you show them that it’s okay if some words aren’t spelled perfectly in their nonpublished writing.

  • Keep Writing Exciting

For many struggling learners, writing is hardly their favorite pastime. Reinvigorate the writing rotation by offering students the opportunity to use online technology to explore the writing process.

In Edmentum’s learn-to-read program, Reading Eggs, students can enter the Story Factory to create their own composition tied to a weekly theme. A variety of graphics and relevant vocabulary assists students as they craft their own tale, save their finished work, print, or even submit their story to a weekly contest.

Take a look at our Pinterest board to explore clever ideas and printable posters that can be used in your classroom, and check back next week as we dig into the remaining three components of the Daily 5!

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