Friday, June 8, 2012

Why I Left the Daily 5 Behind

Yep. I did it. I jumped off the wagon. It wasn't easy because I LOVE Daily 5, but I found that it just wasn't exactly right for my 4th grade students and me with the curriculum we have. Don't get me wrong. I love, love, love Daily 5 and CAFE. I've read the books three times, seen the Sisters twice, developed pages on my class website about it, and totally stalk all things Daily 5 and CAFE. So why move in a different direction? Well...
  • While I love the idea of students choosing what they work on, I don't like the idea of me teaching one type of lesson and students practicing something different directly after the lesson. 
  • I like the idea of minilessons, but there's the practice issue again...I tend to lean toward the "I do, We do, Y'all do, You do" lesson structure. If students are choosing what to do, they may not be practicing the strategy or skill I've just taught. Furthermore, I'm not able to walk around and work the ones who need the extra help because I'm with a small group. 
  • This is not really about Daily 5, but I don't believe that every student needs to receive their instruction in a small group setting. Aren't 80% of students supposed to "get it" in your Tier 1 instruction? So why have I killed myself in the past teaching small groups to 100% of the students? I could be way off base here, but I truly believe that the small group time should be used to pull strategy groups for the students who need them. 
  • I really like having Read to Self at a separate time. The atmosphere in my room is more calm and peaceful and more conducive to concentration. I've found that my small group instruction is a distraction for the ones who may have chosen read to self during that round. For me, I've found that conferring one on one with the students during this time is highly beneficial (maybe more than a small group). It also gives me a set time to actually conduct the conferences. (Check out this post about using Google Forms for keeping up with the conference records). 
  • With small chunks of whole group instruction spread throughout the LA block there isn't time to incorporate the "fun" activities...vocabulary headbands, those beach ball story structure games, carousel strategies for answering or responding to questions, etc...
So, it is with a sad but hopeful heart that I am jumping off my beloved Daily 5 band wagon. I still love it! I still believe in the power of student choice and will incorporate that in other ways. I still think it is FABULOUS for lower grades that have much more time for LA each day. And of course, I'll take many, many of the Sisters' ideas and still use them (CAFE, strategy groups, 10 steps to teaching independence, etc...). 

But from now on, I'll stick with a modified Four Blocks framework, (done my own way of course). Stay tuned to see exactly what I tried this year and how I'll structure my LA block for next year. 


  1. I teach 4th grade, too. I used Daily 5 for 2 years and stop using it this school year. I stopped for many of the same reasons that you stated. A few of the teachers at my school thought I was making a bad decision. I am so happy that I did. This year my reading block went so well. My students told me that they really enjoyed being allowed to read for extended periods of time and that reading conferences was the best part of
    4th grade. They still have opportunities for choice but it is all reading or reading response related. I am glad I am not the only one that has come to this conclusion and look forward to seeing your new plan.

  2. Chanda, thanks for the comment, and especially the affirmation. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

  3. I am really glad that you posted this. I discovered these books back in the winter while on maternity leave. I read the books but had the same concerns that you mentioned here. I am also a teacher in AL so I bet we may be required to use the same SF series. How I am teaching reading seems to be working pretty good according to improvement in reading scores during the year.

  4. I am having to do research for a Masters program on the Daily 5 and was wondering if you happen to know of any research done that compares student STAR scores in the same schools that have switched from curriculum to Daily 5? I am looking for data that compares Daily 5 users and non-Daily 5 Users in the same grade at the same school or data that includes years back to back of teachers that switched (although I am fully aware that each year children and classes are different). I am just looking for Data that supports the results of users using the Daily 5 compared to Non-Users. Thanks! Hope that made sense.

  5. Just read the daily 5 for an assignment for my Reading Part I AQ. While no doubt 'the sisters' present a balanced literacy program, it requires a steep level of commitment that I'm not willing to make. Many - if not *most* - of us primary teachers are already doing these things in our classrooms, though they may look different. I will definitely be borrowing from the elements of the daily 5 which will benefit my literacy program, but I feel that more than anything else, 'the sisters' have repackaged an old product but with minor tweaks.

    Thank you for sharing about how you walked away from the program, Farrah. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one with reservations about it.

  6. My problem with Daily 5 is expectations. I teach first. It is difficult, if not impossible to have a different set of expectations for each group. First graders need to Read to self out loud. (per research).
    I agree about the mini lesson correlation.
    I too love the Daily Five components, I just feel that I can give enough choice within the framework.....They can choose during Read to Someone to: poem posters, Author's Shelf, Pocket Chart, Book Corner, Class books. I have found the kids spend more time working when the expectations are shared, except for my small group.

  7. I saw the daily five incorporated very well in a second grade classroom. I wanted so badly to do it in my classroom, but I was placed in kindergarten for two years and could not make it work with this age group (maybe a personal failing). I feel like the daily five works for some grades and ages better than others. At the training, they stressed that it works for everyone, I just do not think that is true. I am going to be teaching second next year and I am going to use the daily five and see if I can recreate what I saw before.



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