There are a few things you will need to gather before beginning on your Daily 5 journey within your classroom. Here is a short list with some suggestions on what I do in my room.
Quiet Signal: You will need something to signify that students independent work time is completed, they need to clean up. For my classroom I have used a chime, its a lovely and very calming way to signal clean up. I also use it when student have gotten too loud, to help us moderate our voices. I chime it, pause, give a direction – let’s focus on the volume of our voices, it is hard to concentrate when the volume is too loud, let’s get back to work. This allows me to have a coaching conversation with students, many times I blame it on myself, that I cannot not concentrate, then ask them if they are having trouble concentrating as well, so that they can gain that self awareness. More often then not I just click on a GoNoodle video (my students favorites for the beginning of the year are Koo Koo Kangaroo) then I pause it, go over the expectations QUICKLY, then play the video again. You will not believe how QUICKLY students can clean up. And the best part… if someone doesn’t clean up their whole space, I pause the video, call them back over to their space and ask them to finish cleaning. I only have to do this for about 2 weeks before others will help clean things up that didn’t even play with while they walk by just so the video doesn’t have to get paused! It’s amazing to see the community being built, the helpfulness of everyone with a shared goal! Plus GoNoodle is just FUN! I try to participate with GoNoodles as much as possible, get myself moving and active, having fun with my students, this also helps build those relationships! Soon students will understand that when they hear the video/music video that it is clean up time without having to be cued. Others have used: Wireless Doorbells, bells, timers, and others.
Chart Rack/Interactive Whiteboard: I use a dry erase easel as well as an Interactive SmartBoard within lessons throughout my day. Most teachers have these things in their classroom. Specifically you will be using these items for I-Charts (Independent Charts), Choice Boards and more. We will discuss these in a later.
I-Charts: These are also called Independence-Charts. Each rotation option (Read by Myself, Read with Someone, Work on Writing, Word Work and Listen to Reading) will have their own I-Chart. An I-Chart is similar to a T-Chart with What Students Do on one side, and What Teachers Do on the other side. Then we describe what each of those people are doing will at that rotation choice. For example: For Read to Self under What Students Do I would create the chart with the students and write: Read the Whole Time, Stay in One Spot, Read Quietly, Get Started Right Away and Work on Reading Stamina. The I-Charts for each rotation are very similar. For Listen to Reading and Word Work we add: Get Materials out, and Put Materials Away Neatly. For the What Teachers Do side, I write: Works with Students. In my classroom I started with all 5 charts hanging up and referring to them daily for practice and reference them when students need some reminders. However, 3 years ago, I went to only have a single chart (You can see the chart in the picture below in the upper left side). I also do hand motions for each item, to help students remember and practice these to make them habits within their learning.
Book Boxes: This is SO important to have a space for students to collect books that they are excited to read during Read by Myself time. It is important for students to have a collection of their own choice books to get students excited to read! You can check out my library posts here or here. Below is a picture of my students book boxes. They have 5 choice books from the library, a binder full of stories we read as a whole class that they can re-read on their own, a “bag” with their most recent guided reading book from our small group time together and some paper books that were introduced whole group as well. I was able to get these book boxes (see picture below) from Lakeshore Learning through grant funding, but I have seen similar boxes at Target, Walmart, Really Good Stuff and more. There are other options: large Ziploc Bags, Seat Sacks, or IKEA has cardboard book boxes that students can decorate as their own. I have used the IKEA book boxes before I got the plastic ones, my suggestion is that you secure the IKEA book boxes with packing tape, especially on the bottom to prevent books from falling through.
Tools, Not Toys: Now, I’ll be honest… this has been really hard for me. I do not use this within my classroom, I have tried… but pretty unsuccessfully. The idea behind this is giving those students who have differing abilities to stay engaged with a task some tools, not toys, to help them relieve some extra energy on their own, and then get back to the task at hand. These items could entail: fidget spinners, playdoh, timers, visual cues/charts and more. These items are designed to help aid students in being able to extend their independent work time without bothering others, and eventually getting back to task. The idea is that only certain students would have these tools, when needed, and you teach them how they each work, and can help benefit the student with extending their on task time. A more successful thing within my classroom has been really thinking through my classroom design so that students can extend their independent learning time.
Classroom Design: This is SO important when transitioning to Daily 5. Here is a picture of my classroom – so that you’ll be able to visually see the different areas I will be discussing:
Now… I just want to warn you, I do flexible seating within my classroom. You do not have to if you are implementing Daily 5, I know a lot of teachers that do not. BUT I will say that with flexible seating my students are able to spread out around the room, and find their own spaces easier because there is less furniture in the way. A few years ago I taught 37 students and if I didn’t use flexible seating I’m not sure we would have all fit into the classroom! AND added bonus when we were independent working, you really couldn’t tell that there was THAT many students in the room. I only really felt overwhelmed when we were all sitting together on the rug for a whole group/focus lesson. Anyways… You need to think through the different spaces you can create within your room, so that students will be able to find appropriate places to do each rotation. For example, I still have tables in my room with different seating options at each table to give variety.
You see in these pictures, 3 table choices, the first picture is of what I call our short table, which has has blow up wobble seats that students sit on the floor with, the large black table has bouncy chairs, and the last table has plastic wobble chairs. Word to the wise, I started placing the wobble chairs on a carpet a few years ago because if/when the kids try to spin in them, they ended of wearing away some of the finish on the floor, so the carpet makes it harder to spin and also helps protect the finish on the floors (my custodians have been grateful for that!).
You’ll notice though that within the pictures I have many other designated spaces for students to work in. I have the large rug that we meet at for focused mini lessons, many smaller carpets around the room with different seating options as well (a sofa, beach chairs, beanbag chair, bench, scoop chairs, and others). Each area is sectioned off in such a way so that I still have clear sight lines to all the areas while I am at the small group table. I’ll add a blurred video below to give you some ideas on different little spaces that you can create within your classroom to help see the students “spread out” the learning!
So this video was taken during the first week of school. Still pretty new to “read by myself” but they were doing a great job reading the pictures and practicing turning the pages. You will notice at the beginning there was a child at a desk on the far left of the screen. I use this desk as a designated “independent” seat. I explain it like such: If you need a space where you do not want to be bothered, if you need to focus extra hard, if you want to be all alone so you can think easier – then the desk is a good spot choice for you. The kids all get an opportunity to try it out and decide if/when they would choose this seat on their own. Then the video pans to my small group table, this space will normally be used for small group instruction, but the first few weeks, I use it as a way to help me monitor student progress, so I swap students out daily so that I can see how each student is “tackling” their work. If you have other questions/comments about the other seating arrangements in the room, please leave a comment below! Thanks!
A Gathering Place & Focus Lessons: Of course most teachers have a gathering place for mini lessons. I like how the refers to them as “Focus Lessons” because when we talk about Mini Lessons, most teachers still take 15, 20 sometimes 30 minutes do complete a “Mini” lesson. The Focus Lessons are supposed to introduce something to the students to “focus” on while reading/writing. I break up my Focus lessons into different categories so it is easier for me to plan on a daily basis. Focus Lesson #1: Writing Lesson, #2: Phonics Lesson, #3: Reading Comprehension Lesson & #4 Phonemic Awareness Lesson/Heggerty.
Each teachers gathering space will be different. I use my gathering space in multiple ways. I have an easel that I used to display charts, large poems, chart paper, etc. I have a SmartBoard that we use often to display GoNoodles (for clean up time), Math problems, Read Aloud images, Kahoots, ClassDojo, etc. I use the gathering spot as a way to easily show students who to turn and talk to, to sit on the outside of the rug (making a large circle/oval) in order to play a game, do sharing, or introduce an activity. There are many ways you can use your gathering space, so take some time to think it all through! ALSO, make sure you think through how you will use this large space when students are working independently, otherwise you will have a large part of your room un-used during the majority of the day (because remember, your focus lessons should only last 5-7 Minutes!)