Teachers around the country love The Daily 5! With their love for the method comes advice and ideas for practical classroom application. We asked some Daily 5 loving teachers what their best tips and tricks are for implementing it in the classroom. Below are their words of wisdom and tips for using it successfully no matter what grade you teach!
Tips for Using Daily 5 in the Classroom
“Clear tubs are my secret solution,” laughed Nicole, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Burlington, IA. “I use them to store my Word Work materials and they work just as well as my students’ book boxes. I organize my books by theme: food, holidays, farm, ocean animals, etc.,and store them inside baskets, clear shoeboxes, and a mobile library cart with interchangeable tubs. (I have 50 tubs of books so I had to use whatever I could find that would fit on the shelves.)
I have a shelf that holds 12 clear tubs. Each tub contains a different Word Work station students can take to a comfortable place of their choice in the room to work. I have 12 tubs, including a few duplicates. I provide Scrabble tiles; foam dice printed with letters, blends and digraphs; dry erase boards, markers and dry erase crayons; Wikki Stix; magnetic letters; markers, and paper for rainbow writing; interlocking cubes printed with consonants, digraphs, blends and vowels; and I have some gel boards. I change the word list each week to follow our basal spelling program. I change the activity in the tubs only when I feel students are becoming bored with the contents or have mastered the target skill. A clipboard and check-in chart allow me to keep track of what my students have been choosing and working on each week. I also require that students choose the “Read to Self” option at least one time every day. I stick to the “rules and consequences” with no guessing involved. The students experience consistent boundaries and know what to expect. We generate the “rules” together and practice them over and over. The Daily 5 approach requires patience, consistency, and practice. It all becomes more comfortable over time.”
By the Book
“I follow the Daily 5 book pretty closely,” explained Emily, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from L’Anse, MI. “To build students’ trust, we spend a lot of carpet time together making “I” charts, as well as discussing and practicing expectations. I make certain to spend plenty of time modeling correct/incorrect behaviors, and then having students take turns modeling as well. These foundational steps help ease the students into the sense of trust and classroom community needed for the Daily Five to work positively and time spent on this groundwork pays off. It’s really exciting when students are all able to be themselves, working on their own, doing their own thing, and having fun while learning!”
Goal-Setting for Success
“I love the Daily 5 and I use all five components in my classroom,” said Jennifer, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Colorado Springs, CO. “To build student trust in the process from the get-go, we spend time setting goals for ourselves. We begin by spending lots of time learning the specifics of how to conduct ourselves. We work together to create a chart and from there we set a goal: “We will maintain our stamina for Daily 5 for X minutes for X days.” As we move through the year, we meet, then re-set goals. I reward students’ progress with something that I choose at first, such as an extra recess. Other times, I let students choose a reward from a collection of no-cost or very low-cost treats. You can adapt the concept/framework of Daily 5 to meet your needs, but the whole idea of choice and building independence for students is what helps you to gain a sense of fun and trust. Goal setting doesn’t hurt either.”
Working With Students Who Are Off-Task
“I use all parts of the Daily 5 method, but, due to time constraints, we only include three parts per day,” said Autumn, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Pinetown, NC. “As far as working with students who are off-task, I rely on repositioning them in the classroom. For example, sometimes, I have these students work in closer proximity to me. Other times, if these students can’t build stamina in places they have chosen, I have them work at their seats. Don’t let students who need more time to adjust derail your overall efforts. Read the books and take notes. Read blogs. Continue to gather tips and ideas and keep yourself focused and energized with helpful information from the Daily 5 Cafe.”
Modify What You Need To
“The Daily 5 is great, but admittedly it can be discouraging when students get off-task and struggle to work independently within the classroom setting,” admitted Beth, a 5th Grade Teacher, from Fowler, IN. “Redirecting students who need extra help means other students can’t benefit from a full mini-lesson. Keeping challenged kids in the same small group is helpful, as it allows the rest of the class to run smoothly. But when those same kids are expected to work independently, the system can tend to fall apart.
I suggest that you keep working the system. Like anything else, use what you like, make it your own, and leave the rest behind. The Daily 5 is a framework, not the entire curriculum. You must work other things around it. I found that many teachers successfully incorporate pieces of the Daily 5 into their teaching day—even if they don’t call it that and even if they don’t proceed in the exact manner prescribed in the Daily 5 books.”
Teach and Model
“When implementing the Daily 5—especially when working with those students who need help staying on-task— I religiously follow the procedures recommended in the book, including taking plenty of time to teach and model the approach,” said Dawn, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Manchester, IA. “I devote a lot of time at the beginning of each year to teaching routines, getting to know each other, and setting high expectations. All this attention to detail can have you feeling like the whole approach is taking forever, but it’s definitely worth it. Remember to adjust the Daily 5 to make it work for you. It is a framework. It has made a huge difference in my students’ language arts abilities. Good luck!”
Go Slow and Model
“My best tip concerning the Daily 5 is to take it slow and model, model, model any expected and appropriate behaviors,” said Lisa, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Rigsby, ID. “In addition, I recommend meeting with students after they try a particular part so you can discuss what went well and how you can all do better. I always seem to have a student or two who can be trusted to function as a guide and a role model for other classmates. I advise partnering these students with others who need guidance. In addition, I advocate using parent volunteers who will help during Daily 5 time and can give extra support as needed. Also, be sure to give yourself permission to be flexible to discover what works for you and your conditions. Remember, every year it flows a little bit differently!”
Change It Up!
“I enjoy using the Daily 5 mostly because I’m not afraid to change things up!” laughed Jody, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Corsicana, TX. “Here are some of the modifications I have implemented:
• This is the first full year I have used all parts of the Daily 5. Last spring, I began using only the “Read to Self” and “Read with a Partner” aspects of the approach.
• I use WhisperPhones made from PVC pipe.
• I use Rigby leveling to find my students’ independent reading level. I then choose eight books within one or two levels below the independent level and one level above independent level. I change books as I see improvement in reading. If a child is reading well, I re-level him or her and place new books in bags without regard to class scheduled re-leveling.
• I put together six Word Work buckets. Each bucket contains letter manipulatives including letter tiles from Really Good Stuff and blue/red letter dice in a tub from Really Good Stuff. I also offer students magnetic letters. Additionally, I place other word-making tools in the buckets. For spelling practice, students can also choose to use pre-made word cards from the bucket.
• I do not rotate materials out of the buckets. As the year continues, I just add new things to the buckets.
• I assign the students to groups and the group moves from station to station. Because I designate the groupings, I can make sure to separate issues that may arise and can assign peer mentors in groups to help support those who need it.
• I make use of the Daily 5 for Dummies download I located on the Internet.”
Make a PowerPoint & Take Your Time
Kim, a 6th Grade Teacher, from Round Lake, IL explained her suggestions: “One of the best ways to build students’ trust when using the Daily 5 is to spend about a week on each category, modeling, practicing, and troubleshooting. To that end, I share with students a PowerPoint presentation featuring photos from past years that shows what each category looks like in action. (Tip: You can also use this PowerPoint presentation to familiarize families with the approach.) In addition, I review FAQ’s and what-if scenarios with students. Keep in mind that every teacher and every class is different; you will need to adjust the Daily 5 so your approach fits your students, your teaching style, your curriculum, and your time frame. The Daily 5 works beautifully when it has been tenderly, carefully, and thoroughly explained.”
Get More Baskets!
This idea by Trudy, a 1st Grade Teacher, from New York Mills, MN, stresses storage! “My best Daily 5 organizational secret is my use of baskets—lots and lots of baskets. I use baskets with books I labeled by reading level. I also use a choice chart and a binder for guided reading. I store all my materials on a bookshelf in bins, baskets, and other small containers.
I introduce one activity each week until I’ve introduced them all. After I’ve introduced an activity, it remains on the shelf. I provide children access to Wikki Stix, Play-Doh, Scrabble tiles, mini chalk boards, dry erase boards, stamps, letter blocks, letter clips, and a variety of writing tools. Additionally, I use a pocket chart that has three sections for each round of the Daily 5. In addition, we create “I Can” posters together and refer to them often. What’s more, I find that stamina-building and modeling are extremely important throughout.”
Storage Solutions Make a Difference
Storage is key according to this idea by Kay, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Leesville, SC. “The key to my success with the Daily 5 are organizational tools—many of which I secure from Really Good Stuff. The Really Good Stuff baskets fit my needs perfectly. I use them, along with other storage baskets, to organize word tools and books.
In addition, I use reading book sacks and table caddies to keep group items organized. On one side of my room, I organize books by genre. On the other side, I store books leveled in accordance with the principles of Fountas and Pinell. Each week, I have students choose five “just right” books from the leveled library and two books from genre library. I use smaller baskets to keep my items organized. I also use a crate to sort all of the items and books I use for small group instruction. Once I’ve introduced the materials, I leave them out for students to use as they desire. I have available dried beans, Wikki Stix, Play-Doh, alphabet stamps, magnetic letters, markers, pens, and letter stencils. There is also an abundance of paper. I use the SMART Board™, for my choice chart. Students can easily see what they must do and can choose how and when they are going to complete each task.”
“I have found the use of Student Browsing Boxes to be most helpful in implementing the Daily 5,” explained Lisa, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Columbus, OH. “Students use these boxes to store 5-8 books along with their Writer’s Notebook. I also organize my book baskets by theme, author, and genre. I have stickers on the back of each book with a number. The number correlates to the same number on the basket so students can easily return books when they are done with them. In addition, I arrange all Word Work supplies—including dry erase boards, magnet letters and rainbow words—on easy-to-access shelves.”
“The best tip I have regarding the Daily 5 is to stick with it,” encouraged Donna, a teacher from Greenbrier, AR. “If you are persistent and consistent in your efforts, just when you least expect it, it will all click into place.”