Friday, July 22, 2011

How I Use the Daily 5

     I found out about the Daily 5 about a year and a half ago (perhaps a little longer) and started using it in my class. I absolutely love it. It's a way of designing your language arts time so that it includes all the aspects of literacy. Now, many teachers who use it also modify it to fit their needs. I do the same. I actually refer to it as the Daily 3.  To begin, however, I will discuss what the Daily 5 entails. The Daily 5 consists of 5 components: read to self, partner read, wordwork, listen to reading, writing. The idea of the Daily 5 is to do mini-lessons, followed by small group work. When students work on a Daily 5 activity, that's when you pull students to do small group work.
     Having never actually read the book, I cannot claim to be an expert on the Daily 5, nor do I claim to understand the program fully. I have, however, used the basic ideas of Daily 5 and have tweaked them to work for my own class. I have modified the Daily 5 to consist of only 3 rotations, hence my calling it the Daily 3. I use read to self, read to partner, and writing. Of course, my kids still do the other two aspects of literacy since we have oral language (which consists partly of a read-aloud), and our wordwork time. The only difference is that I  work with small groups 3 times a day for language arts, instead of 5. I think the teachers who are able to do 5 rotations must have a much bigger block for language arts. With 2-3 specials everyday, and with Bible, science, and math to teach as well, there is only so much I can fit in.
     The great thing with the Daily 5 is that it teaches students to work independently, gives them choices, and allows for me to differentiate my instruction. What I will do is work with groups based on levels or target goals. They get more of my attention, and don't have to worry about getting loss in whole-group instruction. By the end of last school year, all of my students were above grade level, with the exception of one who was right at grade level, and a new student who was below level (he had joined our class in April, which was not enough time to bring him up to where he should be).
   The Daily 5 has been amazing for some other reasons as well. To begin, it means we are constantly on the move. We do a mini-lesson, then a daily 3 rotation, another mini-lesson, and so on and so forth until we have completed the 3 rotations. What a blessing this has been. Students are never doing one thing long enough to get bored. Mini-lessons are truly only 5-15 minutes long (most of them averaging only 10 minutes), and that's where you quickly hit whatever it is everyone needs to know. This is the basic information, essentially new information. Then, once in small groups, you can work at each student's level. Some of the kids will already have a grasp on the taught concept, so you can expand and enrich with those kids. The ones who find the concepts difficult, or who simply haven't yet mastered it, you can continue to work with them, at their level. It's differentiation at its best. Additionally, you do not have to worry about continuously setting up centers, as they are always consistent and the kids know what to do. After doing a modified version of the Daily 5 for the last year and a half, I don't think I will ever go back.

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