Jan 7 2015

daily 5 reconstructed

Two wonderful colleagues of mine, Irene McKenna and  BrianHWDSB introduced me to the idea of The Daily 5 a few years ago. After quickly browsing through the book by the same name (because *yawn* that’s how I read most pedagogical texts), I jumped on it. I needed some structure to my literacy block and this seemed an efficient and effective way for me to have students practice and improve their language skills while I work with small groups on more intensive reading and writing strategies.

It was good. Not great, but good. The book seemed geared to primary so I modified it to fit in with the more mature (*ahem*) and independent grade 4 and 5 students that I worked with. Over the years, I continue to modify it so that there is more accountability on the students’ part, and less dependency on me.

This year, I kind of blew it up and started from scratch. Yes, I wanted to maintain the basics of having 5 choices, having clear behaviour expectations and having goals to achieve, but with the injection of technology into our classroom and the evaluation of important literacies, I’ve made some changes.


For those not familiar with Daily 5 (and if you are, don’t be…it’s a comprehensive and highly structured literacy framework, and I recommend it, especially teachers new to the primary panel), there are 5 options: read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, word work and writing. Let me tell you how I’ve modified these:

1. Read to Self: Students have lots of options for independent reading. There are plenty of fiction and non-fiction books and magazines in the classroom, they can borrow books from our school library or bring a book from home. If they want to use their iPad, they can borrow an e-book from our Board’s library, or they can read their own personal e-magazine using an app called Flipboard. I don’t care what they read, as long as they are reading and it’s appropriate. I generally find that students at this age will choose books at a suitable reading level.

2. Read to Someone: Same tools as Read to Self. I did make a slight change to this; I call it Read WITH Someone. I want my students to understand it’s a two-person choice, with equal reading responsibility.

3. Listen to Reading: Grade fives are starting to be aware of what is cool and what isn’t. And a grown-up ten-year-old is NOT going to listen to someone else read to them. That’s soooo grade 3! I had tried many things (can you believe they didn’t even want to listen to my voice read to them?) but this was the one option they begrudgingly chose. So, this year, I ditched it completely.

I have been poking my nose into the computer programming realm, reading about it’s importance to the future rather than actually doing coding myself, and I believe that it’s a language in its own right. Take a look at this page if you need convincing. So Listening to Reading, became Computer Programming.

We use Tynker, Hopscotch and Codecademy apps (although the first two are most appealing to my guys).

4. Word Work is a work in progress. I know there is a place in education for good spelling, as long as it’s relevant to their work. So I’m going to give Spelling City a try (students create their own spelling lists and the website will read those words while students write them). We are also giving the Word Dynamo app a go, so students can independently learn new words. Mad Libs, Apples to Apples and Bananagrams round out the list.

5. Writing: Students can write in any genre and about any (appropriate) topic. At the start of the year we brainstormed a good list of possibilities for those that inevitably say “I don’t know what to write”. There are several methods to show writing: Google Docs/Presentations, Explain Everything, Notability, Notes, Blog, Book Creator, and Toontastic. Oh, and….pencil and paper.

So, with all this independent work, where is the student accountability? How do I encourage them to become responsible for their own learning? This was always the gap in me feeling confident in Daily 5. I didn’t want to use D5 as summative assessment–this was meant to be risk-taking, practice time. I knew I could use it as formative assessment–look at weaknesses in reading and writing and use that to form small groups for more intensive instruction–but how?

The technology piece has helped a lot with this. I’ve told the students that when they complete a task, whether it be creating a simple animation or writing a rough draft of a mystery or reading a chapter in a book, they had to find some way to tell me they had done so. We brainstormed ways of sharing their learning and came up with an extensive list.


We discussed the term accountability. Now they understand that, in Daily 5, they are responsible for their learning and for their sharing. They can share by:

  • blogging
  • airdropping
  • uploading to Google
  • airlplaying
  • emailing
  • handing in pencil and paper task

They must show their work by:

  • sharing completed tasks in writing and coding
  • writing a book review (alone or with a partner)
  • sharing details of a chapter (alone or with a partner)
  • sharing screen shots of a completed task

That’s my Daily 5 block in a nutshell. Always in a state of flux as I see things that might work better.

Any comments? Questions? Feedback?