Monday, April 1, 2013

Using the Daily 5 with Grades 4, 5 and 6

Hi guys, we have a guest blogger today. Her name is Elisa Waingort and she’s here to talk about using the Daily 5 Reading Program with grades 4 - 6 students. She uses this program in her position as the Middle Grades ESL teacher at Academia Cotopaxi at the American International School in Quito, Ecuador.  She also blogs at A Teacher’s Ruminations so please stop by and check her out.signature


The Daily 5, a management system for the literacy block, was developed by the Two Sisters, Joan Moser and Gail Boushey. (See for more information.) It has gained in popularity over the last few years because it is structured so that students are doing authentic reading and writing while teachers are working in small groups and one-on-one with students. The fact that each Daily 5 (read to self, read to someone, work on writing, listen to reading and word work) requires minimal preparation on the teacher’s part, yet gives kids extended amounts of time for reading and writing, makes this an appealing system for teachers. I have found this to be true with my ESL students who now love to read and write in English whereas at the beginning of the year they had a difficult time expressing themselves even in simple sentences and were, in some cases, reluctant second language learners.

In my beginner ESL class, students from grade 4 – grade 6 come to my classroom at different times of the day. Usually, I have a mixed grade group of students at any given time, and although they are all in the beginning stages of learning English, they don’t all need the same kind or quantity of instruction.

At the beginning of this school year I struggled to meet the needs of my students while remaining true to my core belief that students learn to read and write by reading and writing. I tried many different approaches but none provided students with the necessary tools to develop independent problem-solving behaviours they needed to acquire English. And, this is where the Daily 5 came into play.

Although I had been using the Daily 5 in my grade 2 classroom for the previous five years quite successfully, I was at a loss as to how to do this with my ESL students given the inconsistency of my schedule – characteristic of ESL pull-out situations. Slowly, but surely, I have adapted pieces of the Daily 5 that I think work well for students at the beginning stages of learning another language; the Daily 5 requires a lot of language processing for following procedures and practicing behaviours modeled by the teacher. So, I spent a good part of the first semester on teaching how to choose appropriate books, and then how to check for understanding so that the reader’s attention stays on meaning and not on pronouncing the words correctly. Although accurate reading may improve understanding it can be misleading to focus on this without the primary emphasis being on comprehending while reading. This is especially critical for ESL students, because it may lead some to think that pronouncing words correctly equals proficient reading in English; often ESL students will have excellent decoding skills but will lag in their comprehension of text. Of course, we also spent a lot of time on developing oral vocabulary in English through paired and guided conversations and by following directions. Recently, I have been able to delve into reading strategies in a deeper way as the students’ level of understanding and ability to discuss books is flourishing.

Two important lessons learned for next year:

1 – Don’t let a child’s English language level prevent you from teaching necessary skills and strategies for working within the Daily 5 structure with success (check for understanding, choosing just right books, introducing interesting books).

2 – Adapt, adapt, adapt. Promising frameworks or structures need tweaking for the students in your class; the Daily 5 is no different.Use the daily 5 reading program to create structure and provide your students with authentic learning - even the English Language Learners.It’s important to recognize this and do what is needed so that students can be successful.

I urge all teachers who are searching for a better management system for their literacy block to take a look at the Daily 5. You won’t be disappointed.

Please stop by and check out my ruminations at my blog A Teacher’s Ruminations.