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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Does the Daily 5 Fit into Balanced Literacy?

The quick answer is yes, but the implementation will vary based on grade level, whether science and social studies are integrated into the primary reading block, and your local school initiatives related to upgrading independent workshop tasks.

The Daily 5 is a literacy framework designed by two veteran teachers, Gail Boushey and Jane Moser, intended to improve differentiation, classroom environment, structure of groups, and overall paperwork. If you look at the structure below, you’ll find that it matches up nicely with Balanced Literacy tasks peppered throughout your literacy blocks:

Daily 5
Balanced Literacy Model
Read to Yourself
SSR (Self-Selected Reading) + 1:1 Conferences
Read to Someone
Buddy Reading with a Choice Menu or Think Dots
Work on Writing
Writing Choice Menu / Journal Response
Listen to Reading
Modeled Reading and/or Listening Center
Spelling/Word Work
Spelling / Word Work

I didn’t set out to implement a true Daily 5 model, but you’ll find, as I did, that the best practices of a Balanced Lit classroom are instructional strategies that should be found in all literacy classrooms: independent reading & writing, shared reading, modeled reading, and word work. Because I’m concerned that the Daily 5 model has the potential to lack rigor, I make sure that most (not all, though) literacy tasks involve a written response, draft, or final product. I keep it simple, though, and it doesn’t involve worksheets!

In a primary classroom, many Balanced Lit teachers follow the structure of the Daily 5 closely during the reading workshop/guided reading portion of the day.  As students get older, though, I think that teachers need to consider modifying the Daily 5 in order to work project based-learning tasks and tasks connected with science and social studies units into the workshop model. 

In my 3rd and 4th grade classrooms, I’ve structured my literacy blocks to include at least three of the “Daily 5” components each day, and multiple “Daily 5” tasks each week. I also incorporate these tasks into homework. The two “Daily 5” components that I make sure are completed every day are the “Read to Self” (aka Self-Selected Reading/SSR) and “Work on Writing.” I believe the single greatest movement in reading levels is directly connected with daily independent reading and writing time. I set aside 35 minutes at the end of the day for SSR/Writing Response time.  During this time, I’m conferencing 1:1 with students or meeting with strategy groups. I also use this time for student-led Book Clubs to meet.

The one “Daily 5” that I do not include as part of workshop rotations is the “Listen to Reading” task. On the high-support end of a Balanced Lit classroom is the “modeled reading” (aka The Read Aloud).  I read aloud and think aloud to my students every day.  By 3rd grade, I have moved the “Listen to Reading” station into my RTI toolkit, and use it as needed. Instead of a “listening station,” I make sure that I have a project-based task as part of the workshop rotation.  This project-based task may be related to a Book Club text, Science or Social Studies unit, or integrated writing & technology project. This task may run from a week to a month in duration.  I create a rubric for these projects and a checklist with mini-due dates to help students manage their time. During 1:1 conferences, I check-in with the progress of the project.

Balanced Literacy empowers teachers to make curriculum choices.  The Daily 5 model will be a good fit for some classrooms and a stepping stone for others.  Use your professional judgment!

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