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Reenergizing the Daily 5 in Your Classroom

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 -- Madison Michell

As we step into April (can you believe it’s here already?), it’s officially safe to start your countdown to the end of the school year! And, if the restless children in your elementary classroom are any indication, students are feeling it too. So, how do you make the most of these remaining months? With the help of the Daily 5™, you can leverage a self-directed framework for literacy instruction as your guide.

For many familiar with the Daily 5, you already know how this structure gives students meaningful opportunities to explore literacy skills at their own pace with quality practice time and choice in learning. But, at this point in the year, your students are more than familiar with your style of teaching, and your once-creative genius may now be considered commonplace. Even if you’ve been utilizing the Daily 5 all year, there are plenty of ways to breathe new life into the model and continue seeing its benefits in the home stretch of the school year. Here’s some of our favorite tips for each of the five rotations:

1. Read to Self

This rotation is just what it sounds like. Here, students practice independent reading with increased stamina. But, when the classroom library starts feeling a little tired, you might notice more students fidgeting with their pencils or whispering to a friend than actually reading. Before this happens, consider two creative ways to jazz up the reading options in your classroom library.

  • Visit your community library this weekend, and check out a few handfuls of books on a specific topic that ties into student interests or current curriculum. Then, host a themed reading day. Think about recent units or lessons that your students responded well to—whether it was on animals, volcanos, world cultures, or any other topic that made eyes light up. Tap into that curiosity by bringing those books into your classroom for students to explore. Bonus points for incorporating science and social studies concepts into your reading block!
  • Connect with other teachers down the hall, and arrange a book swap for a week. Chances are they’ll be more than happy to take you up on the offer if they’re feeling a little spring fever taking over their classroom as well.

2. Read to Someone

This Daily 5 favorite gives students the opportunity to pair up and share a book of their choosing with a reading buddy. Think about ways to reinvigorate this center by leveraging your students’ reading passions. Invite students to bring one of their favorite books from home to share with a buddy. Think of this time as a “show and tell” opportunity for students to dig into a book they already know and love and can confidently read aloud with a friend. Then, take things a step further and allow readers to act as the teacher by checking their partner’s comprehension skills. Questions to ask could include:

  • What are the main characters, setting, and plot of the story?
  • What is the author’s purpose for writing this book?
  • What does this book remind you of?
  • Were any parts confusing? What did this book make you wonder about?
  • What was your favorite part about this story? Why?
  • Would you recommend this story?

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3. Work on Writing

During this rotation, students are given the freedom to explore different writing topics, with the focus being on building stamina. But, for many students, asking them to write can feel like pulling teeth. Think about trying out ways to make writing a game. One favorite activity is a written “I spy” or “guess who?” game. Challenge students to write clues for a partner about something in the classroom or a person, place, or thing of their choosing. Then, have students take turns reading their riddles aloud to each other, encouraging their partners to guess what they are describing.

Typically, as soon as the riddles are answered, they go right back to writing more riddles to keep the game going. Consider taking some of the top riddles out of the classroom during transition times, such as when you’re wrapping up your Daily 5 block or lining up for lunch. This puts a spotlight on your students’ great work and encourages others to make the most of their “work on writing” time.

4. Listen to Reading

This literacy station is most meaningful for emergent readers, as it gives them an opportunity to hear fluent reading and build invaluable pronunciation and expression skills. Additionally, for students of all abilities, hearing a fluent reader read aloud provides a great opportunity to fall in love with books.

Rather than turning to audiobooks limited to a specific device (of which you and your school library may be in short supply), you can jump on the Internet to help you find books for your “listen to reading” center. Many offer videos which include music, animation, and expressive reading by celebrities or the authors themselves. A few of our favorite websites include:

5. Word Work

This component of the Daily 5 focuses on spelling and vocabulary using learning manipulatives to allow students to experiment and develop an interest in words, word patterns, word families, and so on. This will likely be the center that requires most of your attention to keep fresh, as you may want to focus on different skills throughout the school year.

So, when you’re racking your brain on this one, keep in mind: anything and everything you’ve tried all year is fair game. Think back to some of the activities you introduced in September or October and make what is old new again for your students. They’ll already understand the expectations for the rotation (and specifically, how to take care of the supplies), so you can put more focus on skill building. Do you remember noticing any materials that your students were dying to use or that bring smiles every time you pull them out? Reintroduce them in your “word work” center to make it feel new and fresh again.

Looking to learn more about the basics of the Daily 5? Take a look at this blog post for a guide to best practices. And, if you’re interested in an online program to help make the most of this targeted work time, check out Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress, Edmentum’s dynamic learn-to-read program for pre-K–6th grade students!