I am not teaching summer school this year! This is the first time since my first year of teaching that I have not worked at a summer camp or taught summer school. I'm into one week of summer without work and I have so many things checked off of my home "to do" list. :-)
Anyway, since I'm not investing my time into setting up a summer school classroom, setting up a program and learning new children and families; I thought I would take the time to really get into and read the Daily Five.
If you've been to my blog before you know last year I taught a third grade, self-contained class for children with mild to moderate disabilities. After completing the year, I felt pretty good about our reading gains, our reading procedures and our reading rotation. However, there are always things that I want to revise and refine. I thought the Daily Five would be a great book to offer new information and opportunities for reflection.
Daily Five Chapter 1: Reflection
I think, overall, the reading activities/lessons in my class are somewhere in between. If you take a look at previous reading posts, you'll see that I have a lot of staff supported lessons in our rotations (between myself and my 2 assistants). Since my class is a self-contained class for children with special needs (and that includes children with behavioral disorders), I could never imagine myself sitting at a reading group with my back to the class. I always situate my group in an area where my back is to the wall I and I can see the whole room. I don't see that aspect changing. These two aspects keep me in that "teacher controlled" part of the continuum.
In reading those previous posts, you'll also see we did a lot of work in building stamina, reading to self and reading to someone. That puts a little bit closer to the other end of the continuum. I also spent a lot of time working with the students and my assistants to let them know they DO NOT interrupt reading groups. Kids do not ask questions about their independent tasks and teachers and aides do not give assistance to kids at the independent area. This was huge and it took a lot of work to make sure this was a habit for both the students and my assistants. Not only did I have to make the expectation clear for the kids, I had to make sure my assistants knew I did not want them leaving their group to support kids at the independent area.
What I see as potential changes for my class for next year, is refining that stamina to include the writing and word work. We had a journaling time period during the day and it was ok, we also embedded phonics and word work into the reading lessons and that was pretty good because it gave the kids the support the needed, but I think it could get better.
I also really liked the small group/independent time transition from whole group mini-lessons. This structure gives a good opportunity for me to make sure that all students are introduced to grade level materials/focus skills. It also provides a natural opportunity for movement.
The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are doing in your classroom now creating quality readers and writers?
I actually don't have a lot of busy work during our reading block. It's pretty structured between my station of guided reading work, my assistant's station of robust vocabulary and exposure to grade level materials; and my other assistant's station of SRA phonics work. Our independent area was typically reading choices on the computer: Tumble Books, SuccessMaker, www.FreeRice.com; Hear Builders, etc. During my actual reading block, I didn't have much of the Daily 5 reflected at all. I was pretty rigid. It was during our Individual Instruction Time and our Sustained Silent Reading time that I started to use pieces and parts of the Daily 5. I think these structures helped children to develop their reading skills. I'm hoping to make it more cohesive next year and also improve my ability to develop writers! I don't think I did such a good job with that this year.
I'd like to get better at fostering independence in authentic reading so that my students will view themselves as readers. By this age they know they are in a "special" class. They talk about it. Since they talk about it, I feel like I need to address it with them too. Most frequently, students are in my class because they were struggling with reading in the general education class. They remember these struggles and it impacts how they view reading activities and their reading abilities. I'm hoping that the Daily 5 structure will help me to foster that internal view of themselves as readers.
What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
Right now in my reading block time, I have 3 main stations (teacher, 2 aides) that are controlled by me. I choose what each assistant will be doing (and consequently the kids at her table) and I choose what I am doing (and consequently the kids at my table). Within the reading block, the students don't have a lot of control or choice in what they are doing.
The Daily 5 requires a release of this control. I'm going to have to think more about this. There are things that I have to do to meet the direct, specialized instruction component of my students' IEPs. This means they need specific, specialized instruction at their instructional levels. I also have to expose them to grade level materials. However, many of them don't have grade level skills. This means they need support for this. I am going to need to figure out how to do the things I'm required to do that require support, but still embed that student choice and independence components that I"m longing for to help them view themselves as readers.