The old me and the new me–Daily 5

Sometimes I’d really like to use what I do in the classroom in my everyday life.  A Venn Diagram would be great right now…All right, Boys and Girls, let me show you what my teaching was like 5 years ago, what my teaching is like now, and what is the same for both of them.

For years, I was a big fan of AR.  I loved that leveling books made it so easy to organize my library, recommend books, and collect new ones in levels that were a little thin.  Something The Sisters said, though, made a lot of sense to me–when the kids go outside of my leveled library or the school’s leveled library, books aren’t leveled.  How will they know what is a good fit book to them?  I was missing a point for instruction.  The 5-finger rule came under inspection next.  When I listen to kids read, generally, they will miss words without even knowing they’re missing words.  They feel like they pass the 5-finger rule, but when I have them read the same selection, I could 15 words missed!

One of the hardest things for me to do was take apart my beautifully-leveled library and recreate it into genres.  I started teaching good fit books with several lessons, and requiring that the books they read in school are good fit books.  They can take home any book they like (though I recommend they ask for help from family), but in school, it has to be a good fit book.  I use the shoe lesson illustrated in the book.  I have them select a cookie from a tray of about 10 different kinds of cookies to illustrate interest in books–and that old books can be great, too (the Oreo recipe is over 100 years old!)  One of the bloggers has a great idea for using Goldilocks for teaching good fit books.  We play “Pass the Book” to practice determining if the book is a good fit or not.  We spend a lot of time on retells, and I try to conference with every child frequently to have them practice.  I still have 2 or 3 kids at the end of each year who want books that are beyond their range, but everyone else gets it, and I feel a lot more comfortable that they’ll be successful in picking out books to grow their brains.

Over the years, I’ve had gathering places in different teaching positions.  I was never very happy with them.  They’d whisper to each other, fidget, move around, and I’d get frustrated because I couldn’t control it.  For a few years, kids sat at their desks even when I was reading aloud!  When my then-district was trained in Time to Teach, I started realizing I had to break down behaviors into expectations, and then teach those expectations.  “Bubble-space” has been a life-saver!  I teach kids the first day what bubble-space looks like and sounds like.  We practice in different places.  We model correctly, incorrectly, and correctly again.  We try it out with friends next to us.  For me, bubble-space is criss-crossed legs, quiet, and apart from others.  As we move into other areas of instruction (Daily 5 areas, listening to read-alouds outdoors), we include how the bubble space looks in each anchor chart.

I’m still progressing in my book boxes.  I started with just what the kids could shove in their desks.  Then I tried those Scholastic thin, clam-shell boxes.  I wanted to try magazine holders–too expensive.  Now I use tote bags.  I collect them from parents, family members, businesses, yard sales, and always have a stash of new ones to replace broken ones.  A parent is recruited to stitch together torn-but-easily-mended ones.  Most of the kids sling them over the backs of their chairs.  The limit is 10 books at a time, and with the book bags, it’s pretty easy to tell when they have only one or 2 books, or 20 stashed in their bags.  When I do a small group mini-lesson on good-fit books, it’s easy for them to grab the bags and bring them to a table to go through them.  I hate that they end up on the floor, and it’s a hassle to have storage space for replacements.

I’ve always been a person who scouts out the easiest way to do something.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Buy/score a poster that gives the info, and it will look a lot better than anything I could ever create!  With all these great signs and anchor charts on Pinterest, it’s easy to slide back into that.  I like, though, that the kids take more ownership in an anchor chart they help to create–volunteering information, writing the cards, whatever.  Maybe I can try to be a liiiitle more creative, though!  I think I also want to make them smaller so that I can accommodate all of them on the walls.

I used to whistle like a bird as my attention signal.  Then I had some dental work done, and couldn’t whistle anymore!  I’ve relearned, but have signals that work so much better!  The chimes are wonderful for using during Daily 5.  I “shh” a pattern for kids to follow.  I have a musical wand I can tap on things.  And I use 1,2,3, eyes on me for them to chant back 1, 2, eyes on you.  I still mess up now and again, and use a “HEY!” but overall, the signals I use are gentle.

I like the new me as a teacher better–more intentional, more thoughtful.  I’ve gotten to the point that I know enough to know what questions I have, and where I need to improve.  It’s a little overwhelming, but I’m more confident in how I teach.

Check out Thinking Out Loud and Mrs. Freshwater’s Class  for more thoughts on Chapter 3 of The Daily 5.


One response to this post.

  1. Great thoughts! I like your idea of “bubble space.”


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