Sunday, February 17, 2013

3rd Grade Changes

This year I switched schools and moved up to third grade! It's been a big change to be at a new school and to teach a different grade levels. There are many changes I've made to the Daily 5 to fit with my new grade level and school.

Time is a major factor in what I do this year. Three times a week I have about 55 minutes for my reading block, which allows me one or two mini-lessons and two rounds of Daily 5. The other two days I have about 110 minutes, which gives me time for three rotations and three mini-lessons.

  • Read to Self
    • Not too many changes here... the magic is still in giving time for kids to read and talking up books as much as possible!
  • Read to Someone
    • We have kindergarten reading buddies once a week, which is the perfect way to do Read to Someone
  • Work on Writing
    • One of the best things I've done this year with Work on Writing is let my students write notes to each other (they have to turn the notes into me and use correct punctuation and grammar)--what an authentic form of writing and they LOVE it!
  • Listen to Reading/Computer
    • I haven't used my Listening CDs or Leap Frogs much this year--partially because I can't seem to find the box in my storage unit with headphones :(
    • Computer remains a popular choice and this group is really into blogging! Each student is assigned two rotations a week where they go on the computer.
  • Word Work
    • As I mentioned above, time is a major factor. Because of this I haven't introduced my students to many materials for Word Work. Each week they use their Words Their Way words to make a sort.
    • I've also introduced them to Roll-a-Word and Rainbow Words
Last year I had my students orally tell me their choice for each round. Clearly I don't have time for that in a 55 minute reading block! Because of this I have my students write down their choices on their own each day:
A Student's Work Log
For each week I list work that has to be completed (handwriting pages, vocabulary pages, word sort, and reading response). On Fridays students turn in all their work from the week. I grade the word sort and the reading response.

A completed word sort

Last year I had students rate themselves on a 1-4 scale after rounds of Daily 5 (not everyday, but as often as needed). Third graders are a bit more grown up, so I adapted some Daily 5 rubrics (of course, I find these things, adapt them, and then can't find the original source!).

A student's self-assessment for Work on Writing

That's a quick glimpse of how my Daily 5 looks different this year. Next year, I hope to add back in the listening and word work choices and somehow find more time! :)

What changes did you make this year? Are there any changes you are thinking about for next year?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Looking back...

I am embarrassed that I haven't written a blog post since January! I want to reflect a little bit on the benefits of Doing the Daily 5 this year.

At some point this year the Daily 5 switched from something I needed to constantly reflect on to a process that just hummed along. This morning (with 10 school days to go) my classroom was a quiet place where students were engaged in meaningful literacy activities.

IF (IF IF IF IF) my students pick spots with bubble space they are incredibly effective with working the whole time and are really productive!

This year hasn't been perfect with the Daily 5. There are some students who need redirection to find the right spot and get started. And due to the way students were treating the materials, I've had to restrict use of the computers or listening center materials at times.

Last year I remember making sure I had "filler" activities for the end of the year. And while the activities were meaningful in their own way, I don't think anything is as meaningful as a bunch of second graders reading and writing as we gear up for summer break!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Whose Stamina Are We Building?

Since we returned from our glorious winter break on January 9th, I have been reviewing our I-charts with my students, having them model how it should look, and building their stamina! We are having a tough time getting our stamina past seven minutes.

My students are itching to get all the choices back (Word Work, Listen to Reading, and Computers) and I am itching to get conferencing going. Each time I go back to rebuild expectations and stamina with my students, I am so frustrated that they can't build their stamina back as quickly as I want them to!

The biggest realization I've had from my moments watching my students and the timer is how important it is to rebuild their stamina when returning from breaks. If I don't take the time to truly rebuild their stamina, but rather "enforce" them to the stamina I want then my students are not truly independent. My desire to rush through the stamina building process makes me think, "whose stamina are we building here?" Is it really my students who need to build their stamina, or is it me?

Starting tomorrow I am going to work to try and get a couple of conferences in as my students are working. We'll see how it goes!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How is Conferring Going?

My conferencing/conferring is going well. I have been able to meet with 12-15 students a day. I've currently put small groups on the back burner so I can focus on practicing and improving my conferring skills. After winter break my plan is to incorporate both conferences and small groups.

Even in the past two weeks I have seen tremendous growth with my students, especially in their ability to select good fit books and defend how they are good fit books. Good fit books (not too easy, but not too hard) are the crucial element to independent reading and conferences have allowed me to have meaningful conversations on how to select such texts.

On a good day, my class completes four rotations. I've noticed that most of my students do read to self in either the first or second rotation. This has made it harder for me to meet with more students, especially because this means in the fourth rotation I normally only have one or two students doing read to self! Without interrupting my students' choice, what can I do to more evenly balance the number of students doing read to self?

My second struggle is the few conferences where I am not really sure what to suggest for the student to work on! In these cases I've either picked a comprehension strategy that I feel the student would benefit from more practice or told them I'd be back in a couple days to do more research. What do you do when you are unsure of what to suggest for the student?

Scheduling conferences in a way to see who I need to work with each day is one last area I'd like to work on. It is very easy to sort by student name and see when I met with that student, their goal, etc. However, it can be a lot to go through all the data before I meet with anyone to see who I've said I need to meet with that day. Does anyone have a great calendar app on the iPad that has helped them with scheduling?

The google form I created for my conferencing is very useful. I am able to reference it during a conference, at home, and can sort the data in meaningful ways very easily. I added behavioral goals (from our I-chart) because many of my students need to focus on these before we venture into other strategies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Data

Well, Digital Diva demands and she shall receive!

It's a little hard to read (click on the picture to make it larger), but here is how the information appears in the accompanying google doc. I have a bookmark on the iPad for both the form and this doc, so I can easily go back and forth. While I do the data entry on the iPad, I normally use the spreadsheet on a computer. It is easy to sort at the top, so I can find who is using the same strategy, sort the data by student name.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Digital Notetaking and First CAFE Day

Here's a picture of my new Conferring Form. First off, these little fish make me happy! Selecting the strength and goal in check off form was very easy today. By putting all the strategies in a drop down menu it made it very easy to remember and find goals. I also put the CAFE letter in parenthesis by the goal to help me use the strategies.

Utilizing a touchpoint is an eye opener. I was able to give my students a 1-4 today based on how they did on the strategy that I think will benefit from them. The touchpoint is helping me understand when I need to see this particular student next. If I gave them a 1, I better rush to meet with them tomorrow to help them practice this strategy more!

I met with 8 students today. My goal was nine, but I ran into an issue where one round only one student did read to self. How did this happen? Well, I really harped into them that they'd have to do read to self and work on writing today and many of them choose these the first two rounds, which meant close to none needed to read the third round!

There was only one conference where I had no idea of a strategy to recommend! I told this child I'd meet with them again soon to figure something out and she was totally okay with that, phew!

Strategies used:
Look carefully at the letters and words (A)--4 students
Abdundant easy easy (A)--2 students
Reread text (F)--1 student

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Standing On Their Shoulders

Yesterday, Joan spoke of meeting big names in literacy and thanking those men for letting her stand on their shoulders. Today, Gail and Joan let me stand on their shoulders and I have to give them a big thank you.

When I woke up this morning I had no idea I would speak in front of 320 people! Gail and I had discussed showing the group Twitter and letting them know about the #d5chat. I honestly thought they'd put twitter up on the projector and I'd tweet from my seat. And then Gail put the mic on me! I don't think I stopped shaking for ten minutes after I sat back down!

Right before I started to talk I asked Gail how she does this and her response was, it helps to do it with your sister... Joan will help you! It's all a blur from there, but we did recruit some new people to Twitter and got some people who were already on Twitter to think about joining the Daily 5 discussion.

I didn't take two days off from school to speak in front of all those people. I took two days off to learn more about reading practices and helping my students become better readers. Yesterday I tweeted that teacher preparation programs should include an acting class and after today I think teacher prep needs to include more information on how to teach children to read.

The past two days have helped me realize that I need to do more reading and research so that I truly know the best ways to help students learn to read. After Gail and Joan's presentation on the CAFE model and speaking to the wonderful two women from Wyoming sitting next to me, I've come up with a plan for what I'm going to do to start using CAFE (more effectively) in my classroom.


  1. Teach a full class lesson on check for understanding (I taught one at the beginning of the year, but they need to have more!)
  2. Meet with my 9 of my lowest readers for one-on-one conferences
I created a new google form, which more closely follows Gail and Joan's forms. Using the iPad I will fill out this form while meeting with my students. When meeting with each of these students, I will keep handy the "Sample Needs and Strategies" form, as well as several Ready Reference Guides (realistically, as many as I can print before reading starts!).

What an exciting two days! Pushed my learning and renewed my energy... I am excited for tomorrow!