Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Daily Five Book Study - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of the Daily Five brought to the forefront some things I am already doing and some things that were "WOW!"Be sure to check out Nicole's blog: Teaching With Style to link up your post and check out the blog hopping posts too!

1 .What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?

My Goals:
  • develop student independence without being a "helicopter" teacher
    • support: trust that what we've discussed with rules, etc. will work!

  • instill a "sense of urgency" for student goals, tasks, etc.
    • support: TBA -  I need to read more Daily 5!

  • help students become intrinsically motivated with their learning
    • support: begin to weed out some of my extrinsic rewards systems

  • celebrate accomplishments as a community (possibly during Morning Meeting)
    • support: revise daily schedule; student input

  • don't get mad if the students start talking and getting silly during independent work time because you forgot to look at the clock and then realized that they have been sitting at their desks for 45 minutes while you were thoroughly engrossed with a RTI group. . . they don't have STAMINA!
    • support: implement the Daily 5!
Here is a great YouTube video with Alfie Kohn that discusses Positive Reinforcement (approx. 47 sec.). If you haven't heard of him, he provides awesome insight with a variety of topics but especially with regards to rewards and motivation!

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter?
This is hard to say . . . how about, "STAY OUT OF THE WAY!" As teachers we need to relinquish some of our control! I know I know, you don't want to have to find out from Little Joey that Little Mickey was eating a brown crayon from the writing center because so-and-so said it tasted like chocolate cake. 

However, I truly believe that if you establish your classroom routines and expectations as well as trust, then you don't have to be a "helicopter" teacher and hover ALL the time. 

Think about your own experiences with adolescence. . . how would you have learned how to drive if your parents/families hadn't let you drive on your own? They weren't always there to say,"OK here's a stop sign, make sure you remember to stop, don't forget the turn signal, and make sure you check your mirrors!" This is all good and well during your permit/"Cinderella" license, etc. but at some point they had to TRUST you to do it on your own. 

3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?

Trust is the area in which I believe I am strongest because this is established the first day of school! Trust is so important for my classroom, as I'm sure it is for all classrooms, because it is at the root of:

  • bathroom breaks
  • drinks at the water fountain
  • sending messengers around the building
  • classroom jobs (although this is something that will need to change with the Daily 5)
  • operating machinery/technology
  • even getting Mrs. Cook's walkie-talkie from the classroom because she forgot to bring it out to recess duty!

These are all examples of trust in my classroom. . . there are many others but these are the main ones.

I remember towards the end of the 2011-12 school when the students were coming down with "spring fever", something happened involving multiple members of the classroom that violated the classroom trust. (I'm not sure what is was exactly so it mustn't have been Earth shattering but a big enough deal to give a "lecture".) So I started listing all of the things, jobs, areas, tasks etc. that the students perform and/or are responsible for and I said, "What now? The trust is broken so that means all of these things will now need to be either chaperoned by an adult or will need to be taken away. . . No more messengers to the office, no more going to the bathroom by yourself . . ." and as the lecture continued, the mouths dropped to the floor, a few students cried (some crocodile tears), and some just looked stunned.

Trust is huge and without it, the other foundations are obsolete (in my opinion anyway. . . ).

With choice, it is harder for me to "let go" of control and turn it over to the students. However, we as educators always tout, "I learn so much from my students!" Well think about it now. . . if we shift the locus of control then we will REALLY learn from our students! I really believe that choice within the Daily 5 is true brain-based learning (which is what I teach down at Wilm. Univ.). The example of the superintendent and the principal is so true! We want our students to want to read and become life-long learners and by giving them choice, they will prosper.

An example of this that comes to mind is when I read aloud a favorite book of mine to the students (such as Strega Nona) . . .  and the true reason why I am reading it aloud is for enjoyment. . . then the students go to the library and when I go to pick them up about 20% of my class has a Strega Nona book as their choice! It is mind-blowing! It is not because of "brown-nosing" it is simply because they loved the book and wanted some more time with it!

If you know what I'm talking about can I get a "HOLLA!"

This is something that I need to do more of! Although I feel like my classroom is a community of learners and that we are citizens of our school. . . it is rare that the whole classroom community celebrates the accomplishments of their peers! And it seems like such an easy way to further develop an already established community of learners.

Hahahaha is all I can say about the "Jenna" example in this section! I even read it to my husband (a construction worker) because I loved it so much! Thankfully he is a good listener and truly supports me in all my endeavors and impromptu read alouds.

I think it is so important to tell students the reason why. They are probably thinking it anyway after you teach your lesson and some of them are probably whispering about it too . . . 

Student 1: Why are we doing this?
Student 2: I don't know but we need to or else we have to do it at recess.

I always make sure I explain to the students why we are doing something but my explanations are far from the Daily 5 explanations. This is something that I am excited to learn more. 

WOW! This is something that was/is not in my consciousness. . . maybe subconsciousness . . .  

In my classroom, I always implement transitions about every 15-25 minutes, depending upon the time of year, because we know students' attention spans are limited especially at the primary grades. But rarely do I factor in stamina! Typically when the students start to get noisy, I start saying "Shhhh. . .  remember we need to be quiet!" Then I get frustrated because I'm not done with my reading group, etc.After about 3 rounds of this, I realize then that they have been doing the same task for a long time frame and then just move the class along to the next lesson/activity. 

Stamina is something that I really need to work on with my students in order to implement the Daily 5. 

Well . . . thank you so much for reading my longest post ever! I hope that you also had some "WOW" moments in chapter 2. I'm excited to read everyone's summaries of the chapter! 

Chapter 3 coming up next. . . it will be hosted by Mrs. Freshwater's Class and Thinking Out Loud. Be sure to check it out!

Educationally Yours,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

300 Follower Giveaway!

Head on over to Michelle's blog. . .

No Monkey Business

She just reached 300 followers and is giving away a $30 Amazon gift card and 3 sets of TPT or TN items! Her website is wonderful and contains a plethora of valuable information as well as links to other freebies! Be sure to check it out!

300 Follower Giveaway

Educationally Yours,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Character Study FREEBIE for 2nd Grade!

As some of you may know, in addition to being a 1st grade teacher,  I am also adjunct faculty at Wilmington University. So as I create documents for the candidates in my classes, I figured I would share this FREEBIE with all of you as well! It may not be as "pretty" and "cute" as some of the other docs that I've seen around the "blogiverse" but it's a start . . . let me know your thoughts!

This is a graphic organizer for a character study for the second grade common core standards. It focuses on standard 2.RL.3. Click here to download!

Educationally Yours,

The "Fast 5!"

I joined the linky party (my first!!!) over at Erica's Blog Hoppin blogspot for ideas on having students listening.

With my students I use my mom's strategy. . . yes my mom is a teacher. . . it's called the Fast 5! I'm sure it's now a published "new idea" but I want to tell you that there was no TPT when my mom first started this!

The Fast 5 simply relates to 5 things the students need to do to get their bodies ready for listening:

  1. eyes on the speaker
  2. hands quiet and still
  3. voices off
  4. ears listening
  5. sitting appropriately
The number order doesn't matter . . . rarely do I ever say the actions in order anyway. . . they are just permanently ingrained in my head after 8 years of teaching!

A couple of comments about them. . .

For #3 I choose to say voices off rather than mouths quiet because as many of us primary teachers are aware, just because the mouths are quiet doesn't mean that voices are off! That's when the humming begins . . .

For #5 I sometimes change this depending on where the students are sitting, either on the carpet or at their desks. If the students are on the carpet, I say sitting criss-cross or "side-saddle" (antiquated right?). If the students are at their desks, we discuss how to sit: turn chairs to face the speaker, feet flat on floor, and sit with our bottoms down on the seat.

How it works. . . . the expectation is that the students will sit this way everytime. . . however this is not always the case. . . so if I notice the class is really lax in their Fast 5 sitting ways then I will do a "Fast 5". This means that I will tell the students that they are definitely not sitting appropriately (this is said in a  "Oh my! This doesn't look right" manner rather than chastising them) and that I think they need to do a "Fast 5". At this time, I tell the class that I will turn around, count to 5, and when I turn back around I will see them in the "Fast 5" position. If they do this within the 5 sections, then I give them a reward. . . in our classroom we use PBS and we have "Score 4" Cards. So I give them one of those. It really works and they enjoy doing the "Fast 5"!

I hope that you join in the linky party! Click here to join the conversation. . . 

Educationally yours,

Math FREEBIES! "I Have Who Has" - Up to 20

I'm trying to start my own TPT store this summer to see if it works! So here are 2 math freebies for all you K-2 teachers out there!

They are based off of a popular game, "I Have, Who Has" but has been adapted to increase math fluency with your students! Click here for the "1 More Than" free download. Click here for the "1 Less Than" free download. Both are through TPT!

(I haven't figured out yet how to insert a link to the image, if you can offer suggestions, it is much appreciated!)

The games in each packet require students to read the question, listen attentively, and be ready to answer their classmates. The game also reinforces number recognition and sight word vocabulary and are a great activity to do at your Morning Meeting!

You can also tie in grammar skills by bringing attention to capitals at the beginning of a sentence as well as two different types of ending punctuation.

If you like these math activity packets, be sure to check out the expanded versions available for purchase in my
TPT Store.

Educationally Yours, 

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Daily Five Book Study - Chapter 1

Hi Everyone!
So I'm jumping on The Daily Five book study band wagon that is being linked through Mel D's blog . . .  

. . .  and Nicole from Teaching With Style!'s blog . . .

You can pick up freebies, a book study schedule, and more there! If you have a blog, be sure to join the linky party! OK . . . now back to the book.

Here are the questions posed by Mel D. and answered by yours truly. If you'd like to comment or post your own responses, feel free!

Here's my overall reaction to Chapter 1: This is a true example of authentic action research!

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?
As I was reading these pages, I was literally laughing out loud! I even called my mom (a teacher) and a teaching friend and read it out loud to them! They were LOL-ing too! All I could think is, "This is so true of my classroom." Scenario One fits my classroom to a T! Over my 8-year teaching career, I have spent countless hours creating, prepping, managing, and reviewing student work at my centers and, more recently, my stations. It is exhausting! To read Gail and Joan's reflection and testimonial about how well their plan works gives me hope that it is possible to feel relaxed in knowing that the time, for both myself and the students, spent doing The Daily Five will be quality learning at its best. I look forward to enjoying the sunny weather outside! I believe that the key is changing the management system. We as teachers know that if you are lacking in classroom and behavior management, then teaching and, more importantly, learning cannot and will not take place. Therefore, The Daily Five management system holds the key to student independence without sacrificing learning and achievement.

On a side note, my "Ah-Ha" moment was when I read Figure 1-1. Normally, I'm so focused on the writing that I barely notice figures, images, photos, etc. but since this figure took up almost 3 pages of chapter 1, "I figured" (hahahaha) that I should check it out. There were actually two "Ah-Ha's". . . the first being the "Whose classroom is it?" where after Gail and Joan implemented The Daily Five the teachers' desks took up the same amount of space as a student's desk, 1/20th. This will certainly take some changing for me! I definitely like my executive office that has many "satellites" throughout the classroom. Post-it notes here, tape dispensers there, pens near the window, etc. Starting The Daily Five will  require me to go "HOME" as E.T . would say. The second "Ah-Ha" moment was with the "Locus of Control", wherein it is a complete shift from external to internal motivation for students. At my school, we are a PBS school which is 100% rewards motivated. Therefore, to implement The Daily Five, the locus of control during The Daily Five will need to be strictly internal.

Hmmm. . . I will need to focus more on these figures. . . 

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers?
This is a tough one. . . I want to say that all of my activities are creating quality readers and writers, however, I believe that this is more of "what I should say" rather than what is true. 

Before I put myself under scrutiny, I will say this. . .I believe that the true determiner of whether or not the activities/centers/stations during my literacy block are quality is the fact that several of my students have asked at random parts of the day (pack-up time, during bathroom/drink time, or during odd moments throughout the year) if they can go to a particular center/station. I then ask them which one they were thinking about . . . expecting that they will say "Computers" or one of the other "fun" ones . . . and to my relief . . . almost all of the students have asked to go to one of the following:

  • Read the Room Station/Center
  • Reading Station/Center
  • Writing Station/Center
So what does this tell me? That my students are CRAVING the activities that The Daily Five offer and that the students have the self-motivation and independence that they need. In a nutshell, IT CAN BE DONE! 

Now onto answering the question . . . 

Upon further examination/reflection. some of the tasks I have students complete do seem like busy-work because they are sometimes the things that keep the students "out of my hair" so that I can work with my reading groups. Recently, I often spend hours scouring Pinterest to see what "easy to make" printables/games are available for me to use as a station/center without giving more thought as to creating quality readers/writers and more-so thinking to myself, "This is something that the students need to practice anyway soooo why not!"  I know this needs to change and hope remains for The Daily Five.

A Daily Five question that I still have is. . . how do I know whether or not this particular Daily Five activity is truly creating quality readers/writers? 

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
Honestly it is a total paradigm shift in thinking and managing the classroom. I really liked how the class chooses what jobs need to happen in the classroom instead of the teacher using a "Job Chart" which is what I use. I'm anxious to read the next chapter in hopes that these questions/thoughts will be addressed. 


Educationally yours,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Daily Five

I'm sure many of you have heard of The Two Sisters, The Daily Five, and CAFE. Well, I'm taking the dive this summer and I'm going to read The Daily Five with the hope of implementing it into my classroom this fall. There are many blog book studies out there in the "blogiverse" but one that I will be following is being hosted by several bloggers but the one that I'm visiting is Funky First Grade Fun. . .

Be sure to check it out!

I'm a couple chapters behind but I hope to catch up next week!

Educationally Yours,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Welcome to my newly revised classroom blog! Since I am off for Summer Vacation, my mind thinks that I need to start new projects so I'm uncertain whether or not "I bit off more than I can chew" here with a new-ish blog. . . so we shall see! I hope that you come back often to visit and see what's new! Happy Blogging! Educationally Yours, ~Kristin Cook