Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Daily 5 - Faculty Book Study


This month we kicked off a book study of The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (the 2sisters) at our faculty meeting.  I am devoting 25-30 minutes of each faculty meeting to discussion of short sections of this book to allow for some in-depth discussion of the structure.  I have to say that the 30 minutes we spent this past Monday were fantastic.  It was wonderful to be a part of such rich discussions around a topic that is so vital to what we do in the elementary school.

I have found over the years that moderating a book study can be stifling.  It puts a great deal of onus on the moderator and it can limit the direction of the discussion.  So we are using a method that has been successful for us in the past.  I asked the staff to read the first two chapters before the faculty meeting and put three sticky notes in the book with questions or comments that they would like to answer and/or discuss.  Once at the meeting the staff breaks up into groups of 5-8 teachers and all members of the group are equal contributors to the discussion.  After the first 2 minutes of the first meeting it always seems to flow nicely.

I chose to move to each of the groups and take part in all of the discussions.  I must say that it was amazing to see that the teachers were discussing so many of the same things in different groups.  One of the major topics of discussion revolved around how to fit all of the pieces of The Daily 5 into our two hour language arts block.  The great thing about these book discussions is that the answers are generally all right there in the collective experiences of the groups.  I listened to teachers who have been working with this structure explain some of the techniques that they have used to accomplish their goals in that time frame.  Additionally, members of all of the groups were spit-balling different methods for doing the same.

Another big discussion topic was assessment of skills.  In the book the sisters talk about how they moved from worksheet driven "busy work" to skill driven practice when the teacher is working with a group.  It is difficult sometimes to see that there are a variety of methods for assessing students' mastery of skills and concepts that do not involve making them fill out a worksheet that we need to later grade.  The prevailing idea that came from some groups involved keeping a skills chart for each child and assessing their mastery during small group reading instruction.  This would be a much more authentic assessment than a contrived worksheet that is completed partially to practice skills and partially to ensure that students are accountable.

The other major discussion topic was the idea of trusting the students.  We work very hard to create community in our school and classrooms and our children are given many opportunities to demonstrate that they can be trusted to make appropriate choices; however, during our reading block we still have some difficulty letting them have control of their learning and trusting that within the framework and parameters set, they will make the right choices.  I have seen it firsthand in classrooms that are structured around The Daily 5.  Students are engaged and making good choices.  The key is teaching the choices, setting the expectations, and then scaffolding the students to the point where they can stand on their own and the teacher can focus complete attention on the small group or individual instruction/conferencing.

Is all of this easy? No.  But, I think that the work that is done in the first weeks and months of school to set up the routines can lead to a great deal more valuable instructional time as the year progresses.

Needless to say, I felt that the first installment of our book study portion of the faculty meeting was a success.  It was heartening to hear dedicated teachers truly sharing their ideas and providing one another with support and ideas for moving forward.  There was so much more discussed than I can write here. I can't wait until next month's meeting to be a part of these discussions of chapters 3 and 4!

If your school is using The Daily 5, please comment and let me know any important successes, struggles, ideas, or caveats that you think I could share with the staff.  I always enjoy learning from the experience of others.  I have gained a great deal from reading some of The Daily 5 posts from Jessica Johnson's (@principalJ) blog "Reflections from an Elementary School Principal."

Other great resources include:

The Daily Cafe
The Daily 5 - Pinterest Board
MNWelementary-daily5andcafe wikispaces
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2 comments:

  1. This is reminds me of "flipping" the classroom except you are "flipping" the staff meeting! What a great use of time.

    There are only a couple of us using the Daily5 at school and we have met some resistance from the Reading specialists as we are not quite in sync with the other schools in the district with respect to the reading basal. We are still using it, but are quite behind since we spent a month setting up routines. (Well worth it!).

    Your staff is lucky that you are supporting this endeavor!

    Thanks for sharing.

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    Replies
    1. Nancy,

      I am actually working toward flipping my faculty meetings. I have begun sending out a weekly staff newsletter that provides staff with all of the pertinent information that they need so that the meetings don't need to be about information delivery. Moving into book studies has been another step in the process to focus the meetings more on our craft of teaching and learning. We also have a segment called, share an app (or tech resource) where one such tool is shared per meeting. I still have not really figured out how I would include any pre-created video, but I am working toward the model.
      In terms of The Daily 5, I have several staff members who are proponents of the structure. It is not a district-wide mandate or even school-wide at this point. It seemed reasonable to have the staff study it as a group before making any decisions on whether it would be an expectation. Too often we simply tell them, "hey this is great and here is how we are doing things now!" I didn't want to do that with Daily 5. I am hoping that the staff will see the benefits and the adoption of the structures will occur naturally. We'll see.
      Thanks for commenting on my blog and good luck with your Daily 5 work!

      Bruce

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