Daily 5 and Cafe

Over the summer, I had a conversation with my sister about a new program that she was using in her 5th grade classroom.  That program was the Daily 5.  I was skeptical about what she was telling me, and I wondered if it would even be applicable to my 2nd grade situation.  I decided to buy the book, and I spent the summer reading and thinking about it.  

As the first day of school arrived, I became more and more nervous, but also excited to see if it would work.  I followed the book religiously, and now - 7 weeks later - I am a true believer.    I had always taught using small group instruction, but always had students off-task and noisy while I was trying to teach.  My second graders are now doing things independently.  They don't interrupt guided reading time; I can actually teach during guided reading time!  They read independently for long periods of time.  And most importantly, after 16 years of teaching, I am excited about teaching again.

These are my anchor charts (here's where I got them - and they're free!).  I have seen them already filled in, but I felt that it was important to fill them in as a class; for the students to contribute (through my guidance) what was important for them to do during these times.  I especially loved the discussions that we would have about why we were doing these things.  I was amazed at how easily they clued in to the fact that they were doing these things to better themselves.  It has really helped to raise their intrinsic motivation.

The only one that my students struggled with was Read to Someone.  We ended up practicing that one for much longer than the other ones, and we still have to touch on it occasionally.  They caught onto the other four fairly quickly, and we were able to move through the practice sessions steadily.  Whatever you do, DON'T SKIP THOSE PRACTICE SESSIONS!; they are vital if you want your students to be truly independent.  A fellow teacher at my school would go around and whisper in their ears when they were off task instead of calling them all back to the rug, and she has continued to struggle with implementation.  There were times when we would practice for 30 seconds and I would have to call them back because someone was off-task.  Don't be afraid - follow through.

Word work with Halloween colors!

Reading to Self with Little Monster.

Reading to Someone with The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat.
When I bought the Daily 5, Amazon recommended the Cafe Book.  After doing a little bit more reading, I purchased it as well.  And again, all I can say is "WOW!"  I have current and up-to-date data on all my students, and it is all in one place.  I set objectives with my students, and days later they can still tell me what they are working on; whether it's increasing their rate to 55 words per minute, or cross-checking, they can tell me exactly what they are working on.  Without reservation, I would recommend both of these books.  I feel like my teaching has reached another level, and I have a much better grasp on where my students are and where they need to go.

Our Cafe board to date - we still have many strategies to add.
The Cafe headers are free and can be found here.


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