Monday, July 6, 2015

What do I need to get started? Daily 5 Book Study

I'm once again joining up with Brenda over at Primary Inspired to talk about what you need to get started with the Daily 5.

I have to admit that getting started with the Daily 5 was a whole lot easier than I thought it would be. Mostly because I hardly had to actually do anything all that much differently from what I was already doing!  Here's what you need:

Quiet Signal

I have always used the same attention signal for this that I use for everything else, but you don't have to.  I am a stickler for my attention signal being all of three things:  visual, audible, and portable.  If it's not, I can't use it everywhere and I can't make sure to get everyone's attention.  I use a simple "Give Me Five" where the students see my hand going up and they hear me begin counting "1-2-3-4-5."  As the students hear me, they join in.  Students put their hands in the air and pick up counting wherever I am.  This makes it easy for me because I don't have to yell use a loud voice.  The kids that don't hear or see me can hear and see their neighbors.  I can use it anywhere as long as I have at least one hand.  It's always a keeper for me.  However, I've been playing with the idea of using something more fun like chimes (which is what The Sisters use).  I don't know, though.  I don't like that it doesn't meet my three requirements for an attention signal.  But I could give the job to a kid... Things to think about.

Chart Rack or Interactive Whiteboard

I use a chart stand.  I use the SMARTboard for some things, but I find that I can do more with instruction on the chart stand while the whiteboard is more used in my classroom for independent or guided practice activities.

Tools, Not Toys

I'm having trouble with this whole idea.  It's just a personal problem, not an issue with the use of scaffolding (which is what this is).  I am just personally struggling with the idea that other students will begin to act up in order to get the "toys" that they see other students using during this time.  It will take some serious training in the beginning to address this.  A few lessons on "fair is not always equal" should cover it.  Like I said, it's me.

But some things you will need in your tool boxes:

  • timers - sand timers would work well because they are silent (maybe a stopwatch for older kids)
  • small fidget toys - I plan to talk to my OT/PT to see what she can let me borrow
  • Legos or some other small toys
  • pattern blocks
  • hexifix cubes
Book Boxes

Kids are going to need a place to store the books that they will be reading!  I've heard teachers that use plastic bins from Dollar Tree or tote bags or magazine boxes from IKEA.  I don't have those stores where I am.  I do, however, have a Post Office.  I use Priority Mail flat rate boxes.  I put them together and cut them in half.  They are a little bigger than the magazine boxes, and they don't cost anything more than about a half hour of my time.  I'll post pictures of this later, as I won't be able to get into my classroom until August and I don't really need 24 book boxes in my teeny, tiny apartment for the next month.

A Gathering Place and Focus Lessons

Please don't overlook this if you teach older grades.  When I taught fourth grade, my students still loved to come to the meeting place.  I usually let them bring their chairs so they weren't sitting on the floor, but this concept is important in all grade levels for several reasons:
  • students are more engaged because they can participate in lessons that include accountable talk,
  • behaviors are minimized because of the proximity, and
  • distractions are limited because the students aren't playing in their desks.
It's all win-win in my book!  Even with the older kids.

The only issue is that you will need a space large enough for all of your students.  This would be the carpet area in our primary classrooms.  In my fourth grade class, I taught the students how to move their furniture to the perimeter of the classroom to make space.

Remember to make your focus lessons short, sweet, and to the point.  Remember the brain research... keep the focus lessons to 5-10 minutes, depending on the age group.


Do you remember the i-Charts you created when you were working to build independence?  You'll need to have a place to post those in the classroom.  I post mine above the bulletin boards that I use for my CAFE, VOICES, and GNOMe menus.  It is necessary for reference later when you need to go back to the expectations.  There are a lot of ways to reduce "wall clutter" with other anchor charts, but these charts are critical to teaching and maintaining those expectations.  They should be up all year.  I know.  It's hard, but you'll be thankful you left them up when you can easily reference the charts.

Classroom Design

You don't really need a special classroom or an elaborate layout to make Daily 5 work for you.  You need some space for your gathering place, you'll need places for students to read and write independently, you'll need space to store your materials for your focus lessons and the like... Otherwise, your current classroom design is probably great!  Personally, I plan to make at least one big change in my classroom design... I plan to get rid of about half of my desks.  Stay tuned to see how that fiasco little piece of brilliant works out of me, or even if I actually go through with it.

Keep in mind that you will need to have space for the kids to do the work for the Daily 5, and that space isn't all desks and chairs.  When was the last time you sat in a rigid chair at a desk to read for pleasure?  Probably when you were in elementary school, right?  If we're trying to encourage reading for pleasure, we should provide students with pleasurable reading places.  Small rugs, fun chairs, bean bags, pillows, etc.  Let the kids lie down, sit at a desk if they want to, hang from the ceiling (just kidding about that last one), as long as they are reading!

When I get into my classroom in August, I'll post about the status of my classroom design.  We'll see if I am actually brave enough to move away from a class set of desks or if I'm just all talk at this point.  

So, how do you feel about getting started?  Overwhelmed?  Hopefully not.  If you have questions or concerns, let me know.  I want to help you get your reading block up and running!  You won't regret it!  

If you haven't gone over to see Brenda, head on over.  She's got a Daily 5 Starter Pack giveaway going on.  Don't forget to link up with your blog if you haven't.  If you don't have a blog, leave a comment anyway!  I'd love to hear from you!  If you missed the earlier posts, use the pictures at the bottom of the page to navigate through.

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