Friday, June 26, 2015

The Foundation of the Daily 5 - Book Study

Once again, I'm joining all of the great bloggers who linked up with Primary Inspired to talk about The Daily 5 Chapter 2, "Our Core Beliefs:  The Foundations of the Daily 5."

I have to admit, once again, that a lot of my thoughts wandered off to Conscious Discipline while I was reading.  Right out of the gate, all of the mentioned core beliefs fall right in line with everything that I know about Conscious Discipline:

  • Trust and Respect
  • Community
  • Choice
  • Accountability
  • Brain Research
  • Transitions as Brain and Body Breaks
  • 10 Steps to Independence
Okay, so maybe that last one was something that I remember from the first edition of The Daily Five, but it still fits in.

"Meaningful learning requires respect and trust between the teacher and students."  That's the first sentence about The Sisters' views on the topic, and I couldn't agree more!  We do teach our students rules, expectations, behaviors, academic content, etc., etc., etc..., but we seem to always fear letting them go to do it independently.  We underestimate them when, in fact, we need to trust them!  By showing them that we trust them to do the right thing, we are giving them the respect they need to feel like we know they can do well!  When they know that we trust them, they will respect and trust us.  Trust and respect make up the foundation for building community!

Truth:  This has Conscious Discipline written all over it!  We need that loving and caring environment for students to feel safe.  That safe feeling keeps the students in their executive brain state, and it allows for them to be in a position to learn.  The executive state is where people (not just kids) can make wise choices, and they can't be in that state if they do not feel safe and loved!

In my experience, allowing students to make choices regarding activities that they'd like to do is the most powerful tool in my tool belt when it comes to time on task.  A person is more likely to complete a task that he has decided to take on himself.  I can use personal experience to reinforce this idea.  I love reading, really I do.  But do you know what I absolutely hate?  Reading.  I want to read a book that I want to read, darn it!  

I recently finished Born to Run, but I had the hardest time getting started.  The only motivation I had to read it was that my boyfriend suggested it and I didn't want to disappoint him by saying it just wasn't my thing.  (I'm sort of obsessed with the Alex Cross series.  That's my "thing."  I thought he knew that about me.  Geez!)  Anyway.  I read a few books when summer began, and I was in my happy place.  It wasn't until he left for work that I picked up the book because I wanted to.  And it was a great book!  I finished it in about two days, and I'm glad I read it.  But it was the worst thing ever when I didn't want to read it.  The same thing happens to me when I'm assigned a book to read for class.  I just don't want to read it.  I'd much rather read something that I chose than something that someone else put in my hand.  Anyway.  I'm rambling here.  

Choice is powerful for students for more than just their reading material (although that does have its benefits).  Allowing students to choose which tasks they want to complete is extremely powerful for motivation!  (I think The Sisters also said something along those lines.)  Even when students are required to choose from a list of options, all of which must be completed, they comply when they get to make the choice of the order of completion.

I honestly could not have said that better!  Students will make a commitment to their learning when they make a choice.  In order to see the results, they have got to learn to hold themselves accountable!

I can't tell you how many "Ah-ha!" moments I had while reading this section.  I don't know why I had so many... I did read the first edition; honest!  But there was so much happening here that made me realize that much of what I was doing was great, but my thinking about what I was doing still needed work.

For example, I stopped using the workbooks from the reading series years ago.  I noticed the same thing that was mentioned in the book:  "... many of the students did not have the ability to fill our the worksheets [independently]..." (p. 27).  Can I just tell you how much I hate reading every single thing on the page aloud just so the kids can complete it?  And then having to reread to individuals that weren't paying attention the first time or just didn't really understand what was going on... Torture, I tell you!  But I still wanted something that students had to complete to prove that they (1) did the work, (2) knew what they were doing, and (3) I could physically have to present should there be any questions about the child later.  But seriously.  Worksheets don't hold kids accountable.  There are so many other things that we can do to make sure they know what they're doing.  Starting with keeping anecdotal notes as data for progress.  Kids keep themselves accountable for behaviors, and we can see them because students are self-managing during those independent work times.  We keep kids accountable for their learning by conferring with them individually and meeting with small groups.  Those anecdotal notes are plenty for keeping track of the learning, and there are other ways to have the kids show what they know (because we are tethered to those pesky grade books).  They can share at the end of the literacy block, do book talks, book reports (but fun ones, not the boring ones that we grew up with), maybe keeping a reader's notebook to jot thoughts while reading... The list is endless.

I have done a lot of random reading over the last five or six years about the brain.  Everything from how video games affect kids' brains to how long a 6-year-old can pay attention.  I have to be honest here, there wasn't much in the D5 book that gave me that "Wow!" feeling, but I definitely found myself nodding in agreement often as I was reading.  I'm so glad that The Sisters mentioned the research on attention spans.  More adults, whether teachers or not, need to know this stuff!  I mean, how many times have you sat through hours upon hours of lecture trainings or classes?  And what did you get from it?  Probably a whole lot of squat.  Now think about those classes or trainings that were more interactive.  Those that provided opportunity for movement (or brain breaks) periodically.  Those that allowed time to talk to the people around you to solidify ideas.  Much more valuable, right?  

We need to give our students short bursts of information, then allow them time to process it.  Now, I know.  Sometimes our lessons just have to be longer than 5 or 6 minutes.  That's okay.  A brain break could be a full-blown yoga session, or it could be as simple as a turn and talk.  This will refocus the brain and allow the students time to process the information.  I wish I could remember the name of the guy that I saw last August.  He was amazing!  (He wrote a book... something about swallowing an elephant or something?  I don't know.)  Anyway.  The information that he gave about the brain was so helpful!  Once a person has given you as much attention as they can, a reaction happens in the brain.  I remember the image on his slideshow of these yellow balls bursting.  Once the yellow ball bursts, the person is no longer even hearing you.  (Well, they hear you and they may appear focused, but their brain just can't take anymore and it needs to refocus.)  They can't learn anything if they can't pay attention.  If you aren't familiar with it, create an account with GoNoodle.  It's free, it's fun, and there are brain breaks available of all lengths, levels of energy, and forms.

I could go on with more examples of why transitions are necessary, but I'll leave you with this:

Transitions do not need to be difficult.

I often just give my students what they need for a lesson one piece at a time.  We use the materials, I ask them to go put the item away and come back to the meeting place, and suddenly like magic they are ready to go again!  All they need is just a moment to not have to listen to you.  That's all.  There are a lot of ways to integrate simple brain breaks.  Perhaps one day, we should have a linky about those!


I know this was a lengthy post, and I appreciate you for sticking with me through it!  See you next time when we talk about The Ten Steps to Independence (also mentioned in the foundations of D5, but it's so big that it requires way more detail that just an insert into a chapter)!
(Use the images at the bottom of this page to navigate the book study.


1 comment:

  1. I love how you included your experiences with the foundations!