Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Daily Five Blog Tour - A Conversation with Gail and Joan

When Stenhouse contacted me to see if I’d like to participate in The Daily 5 Blog Tour, I happily agreed. My sons have both been in classrooms that use the framework and I am always impressed by what they accomplish in a given school year. Beyond that, as a fifth grade teacher, I reap the benefits to teachers below my grade using The Daily Five.

Just recently I read the new edition. I had assumed that just a few tweaks would have been made, but there was so much more. I read, folding down pages as I went, highlighting passages, and emailing colleagues my thoughts. Since finishing I have recommended it to many teachers, and shared my copy with friends in my building. Upon closing the book, I was grateful for this tour. I wanted the chance to ask Gail and Joan a few questions I had written down as I read. How cool is it that I got to do just that? So check out their answers below, I loved reading through their thoughts. Such amazing insights!

Finally, Stenhouse is offering a copy of The Daily Five to one lucky person who comments on this post. Feel free to write your questions, comments, or “enter me!” at the end of the post and good luck!


As an upper elementary grade teacher, I was grateful you mentioned that older students do not necessarily have a greater stamina than younger students. I wondered what do you see as the biggest differences in using the Daily 5 in our reading classrooms?

The basic foundational pieces of The Daily 5 are the same for all grades – The Daily 5 Framework, which includes The Core Beliefs and Instructional Routines.  That said, there are subtle differences between grade levels once Daily 5 is through the launching period and up and running.
The pieces of Daily 5 you will find differing the most between younger students and older students are predominantly driven by stamina.  Often, but not always, older students can build their stamina for longer amounts of time, meaning the length of each round is longer.  (However, as you mentioned above, it is worth noting that we have also had primary students who have longer stamina than older students!  As always, it depends on the group you have in front of you.)
Once the Daily 5 is fully launched, our children participate in five rounds of Daily 5 each day.  In these early days of the year we are watching for children who lose stamina as the sign that we need to stop their independent practice time, call them all back for a focus lesson and then move on to the next round.  
When students get to the point where their stamina is strong, we may find ourselves stopping a round of Daily 5 due to time rather than broken stamina.  Meaning, we may look at the clock and realize they are still independently working but we know that if we wait until someone’s stamina breaks to bring them back together, we will likely not have time to do all 5 rounds as well as all the focus lessons.  When this happens we know the time has come to eliminate one of the rounds of Daily 5, therefore moving from 5 rounds a day to four.
Of course, now you may be asking yourself what happened to it being Daily 5 and children participating in all 5 choices?  If you notice the charts, on page 15 – 19 of The Daily 5 Second Edition,  Read to Self and Work on Writing are both in bold.

This means that each day one of their rounds must be some type of reading and the other writing.  With four choices in place, students will participate in the other three Daily 5 choices throughout the course of the week.
As time goes on, we continue to drop off rounds of Daily 5 when the class shows that their stamina is growing, and we stop the rounds because of time rather than stamina, as described above.
About 2 ½ to 3 months into the school year, classes with longer stamina, typically our intermediate grades, will often settle on 2 rounds of Daily 5 each day.  With our primary students, or classes with less stamina, we often settle on 3 rounds of Daily 5 each day.  The number of rounds is always determined by the amount of stamina the children have. (Link to the structure of Daily 5 HERE)

This type of schedule allows us to differentiate for our students based on their needs.  For example, children that have moved into reading chapter books most likely prefer Read to Self over the other types of reading.  Yet, inevitably we will have students in the same class that will choose Read to Someone and will greatly benefit from partnering with another to read.  That said, on page 16 and 17 is a more in depth description of how we differentiate for students when we cut the number of rounds down each day.
You will see, each day the children must do some type of reading and some type of writing.  If we feel there are students who need to do Word Work, and not all do, they participate in Word Work for only 10 minutes and then move into Work on Writing for the remainder of that round.  Likewise, each student must participate in some type of reading each day.  Most often that is Read to Self, but over the course of the week, we will help children who need to Read to Someone or participate in Listen to Reading also select into those choices as one of their types of Reading.
As you can see, the basic elements of The Daily 5 are the same for all grade levels.  The ability to differentiate for students based on the amount of stamina they have as well as their needs for independent practice time make it a wonderful literacy framework for all ages.  To learn more about differentiating the Daily 5 you may want to listen in on our conversation explaining this to another teacher - Listen HERE.

This new edition of The Daily 5 includes a math component – Math Daily 3. This seems that it was a natural evolution. What has been the reaction of teachers in the classroom?

We have actually been using Math Daily 3, or at least some form of it for many years.  Like Daily 5 and our Literacy CAFE, it has been a work in progress.  We began writing our thinking about Math on our website and have continued to refine as the years have passed.  As we were writing our second edition of The Daily 5, Math Daily 3 was finally at a stage where we felt ready to share.
Teachers that have been using The Daily 5 are finding Math Daily 3 to be a natural way to approach math instruction.  Since it is not a curriculum and holds no content, teachers of all grades and from all areas are finding success with the structure.
One of the things we loved and now other teachers love as well is that it can be used with any math program.  As with The Daily 5, it allows us to work individually or with small groups while our students are engaged in Math by Myself, Math Writing and Math with Someone.

Would The Daily 5 look differently if you were in a large English language arts block where reading and writing were taught in the same period? (This would likely be at the upper grades.)

We have met and worked with many teachers that use The Daily 5 in middle school and high school settings.  Their schedule often mimics the one you describe above.
Utilizing the 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence children are taught to be independent and build their stamina in Read to Self and Work on Writing.  Once stamina is built the English Language arts block can then be divided into two rounds with students choosing to either Work on Writing first and Read to Self second or vice versa.
If the block is too short to allow for two rounds of Daily 5, the foundations of Daily 5 can still be utilized by having students choose to do Read to Self one day and Work on Writing the next.  Giving students ample time to get into the reading or writing flow is important.   You can see these differentiated blocks on page 15-19 in the book.

One of my favorite components of this book was the concept of I PICK books. We have debated leveled classroom libraries in my district for years. My reasons for why I haven’t leveled my library were for the exact reasons you shared. Can you talk more about this here? I think it is so important!

We totally agree with you!  In our book we tell the story of Pedro, who was one of the many victims of our leveled libraries.  In an effort to support Pedro and all the students in my class, I had leveled my classroom library in an attempt to expedite the book shopping process.  The first time that Pedro went to our public library, he was unable to find a Good Fit Book because there were no designated tubs with books at his level. He had no idea how to find a good fit book from shelves of choices.
That very day my friend, Lori Sabo, stayed after school with me and helped redo my whole classroom library.  The redo and results can be seen in this video clip (Watch HERE.)

I really love the way the library is organized now for a couple of reasons.

1)    The process of deciding on the genres, topic and places for books can be managed by the children.  By involving students in the process, they become active in knowing which books are there and can even carry the responsibility of “taking care of” tubs of books, making certain the correct books are in the correct location.  Even our youngest learners can do this since the books are numbered to match the tub they are located in.
2)    Students can easily find books that they are interested in.  Since such a huge amount of time is invested in teaching and supporting children to find a good fit book, they are able to find a book at their reading level amongst the multiple levels of material located in each tub.
In Mary Howard’s book, RTI from All Sides, she talks about leveling systems for children, “Leveling systems of any kind are for teachers, not students.  Organizing a school or classroom library by level or labeling texts using level designation, whether coded or not, is strongly discouraged.” p47

To me, the graph on page 31 about minutes of reading correlating to number of words read is a powerful one. For those readers who haven’t seen your book yet, or don’t have a copy in front of them, could you touch on this? Do you think it is something you would use with older students or parents?

The groundbreaking research by Anderson, Wilson and Fielding (1988) looked at the amount of time students spent reading outside of class and the number of words encountered.  Of course as you can imagine, those who read the most had the most words encountered per year and were functioning at the highest percentile in reading.
Adams, M.J (2006) then went on to surmise that by adding just 10 more minutes of reading per day, not only would our students increase their word exposure, but they would likely perform at a much higher percentile level of reading.  Looking at the this article and the figure HERE, you will see that by adding just 10 minutes to the 40th percentile readers would likely bump those students percentile score up to between the 70th and 80th percentile. Anderson, Wilson and Fielding found that among all ways children spend their time, reading books was the best predictor of several measure of reading achievement.

We cannot afford not to have our students reading more each day!

Is there was anything else you would like to mention?

We are so thrilled that this new edition contains the suggestions for supporting our most at-risk students in our classroom.  We have borrowed a term from Michael Grinder, author of many books but one that made a huge impact on us called EnVoy. (HEREHe lovingly called those students Barometer Children as they can often predict the weather in the classroom.
With both of us having a special education background, we are very fond of working with barometer students and this new edition contains some of our most successful strategies for working with the at-risk population in our rooms.  Since our belief and background is that all students can be taught to be independent and have stamina during The Daily 5, we are delighted to have added this whole section to this book. You can find this new writing on pages 142-151
Here is a video of Joan working with a barometer student to help her build her stamina in a way that is different than the rest of the class, thereby offering respectful instruction to both this student and honoring the rest of the class’ needs for building stamina at their rate as well. Watch HERE.

Our publisher Stenhouse, offers a unique look at each of the books they publish, you can look at the whole book on line to determine if it is a book that you want to purchase.  We recommend that teachers use this amazing feature and check out The Daily 5 book and many others on their site.  Here is what you do.  Go to Stenhouse (HERE).  Click on the Daily 5 Book.  You will be prompted to sign up, which just means you give your email address so that you can access this section of their website.  Then, Click on the Table of Contents and now you can preview the entire book online!

And I can’t let you go without asking what you are working on now…

Funny you should ask Katherine.  As we speak we are in the beginning stages of beta testing for our brand new website, The Daily Cafe. HERE  It will be taking the place of our old site with the same name.  We have spent a year and a half working on the site and building it from the ground up.  We are so very proud of it and thrilled with the results.
What makes it different is the way it is organized.  It still has the vast amount of videos, articles and downloads having to do with all things Daily 5, CAFE, Math Daily 3 and Classroom Design that our readers have come to expect.  It also contains some of our reader’s favorite features such as b-Resilient.  Each page has been re-worked and the organization of the new site makes it very visual and much easier to find all the content quickly and easily. Our goal for our website is to offer high quality professional development, available at any time that suits our users.
We are also thrilled with the new discussion board.  It’s cutting edge design stays with the visual strength of the site.  The goal of our discussion board is to have it as the go-to place to connect with other colleagues from all over the world

Katherine, we want to take a moment to thank you so very much for hosting us on your blog!  It is a delight and honor to add our voice to yours for all your followers!  


Thank you both for stopping by and providing such wonderful answers to my questions! I hope everyone reading got as much out of this as I did! And don’t forget to comment below to be entered into the drawing for a copy of the new edition of The Daily Five!

The winner of the book has been selected. Thank you! 

Also, check out the other posts in this tour:

May 5: Laura at Ruminate and Invigorate 

May 6: Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning
May 7: Matt at Reading by Example
May 8: Katherine at Read, Write, and Reflect
May 9: Roundup on the Stenhouse blog.