Episode 143

The Daily 5 for Teaching Literacy

Recorded by | Run time: 15 min, 23 sec


Have you heard of The Daily 5? Ally is a passionate teacher who has used this awesome program to engage and delight her beautiful students. She’s a huge fan of the Daily 5 and she documents her students’ learnings on her Instagram page, @theyoungeducator, in her highlighted stories, so check them out. Ally says The Daily 5 has been a game-changer for her and her students.

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The Daily 5 Full Episode Transcript

Ally: My students came to school on the second day and they were like: “When are we doing Daily 5?” And that for me, I was just sold so I knew it was worth it!

Bron: Welcome Ally. Thank you so much for joining me on For the Love of Teaching.

Ally: I’m so excited to be here. Yay.

Bron: So tell us a little bit about yourself and your career up to this point in time.

Ally: I studied at the university of Newcastle. Yeah, I teach year two in Sydney and I’ve been there since I’ve finished uni. So I’m really excited to see where my teaching, can that grow into.

Bron: Beautiful. So let’s talk about some of the growth that you’ve undertaken as as a professional so far. Y ou have adopted the daily five practice into your teaching. And I was wanting to talk to you about that because it’s a really interesting program.

What is the Daily 5 in a Nutshell?

Bron: Ally, what is the daily five in a nutshell?

Ally: So, um, The Daily 5 is based on a book called The Daily 5 by two sisters named Gale Boushey and Joan Moser. And it’s basically a literacy framework that instills a love of literacy through behaviours of independence. Um, and students select from five authentic reading and writing choices where they work independently towards personalised goals. So that includes choosing activities that involve reading to self, working on writing, reading to someone, word work or listening to reading. Um, and then at the same time it allows time for the teacher to meet the diverse student needs of a class through a small group, um, and one-on-one conferring. Um, so these are like the rounds and then each time the students go into something new, it’s broken up by a mini lesson such as a 10-minute reading or phonics lesson.

Whilst it is a literacy approach, it definitely has the main principles of building trust and respect with students focused on sharing student choice, regular brain breaks and brain compatible focus lessons can be transferred to any area of the curriculum. In fact, it has definitely explained to me what I already knew was true that students are more engaged when they have a choice. Um, and a student shouldn’t be expected to sit and take in new information for long periods of time, um, without regular brain breaks or body breaks. Um, the book actually talks about the research behind linking a student’s age to the amount of minutes they should be sitting there, taking in new information, um, before they shouldn’t move and, you know, break up what, what’s being taught. And that’s why the framework focuses a lot on those mini lessons and regular movement, um, around their room.

Bron: Oh, cool. So that’s really interesting, that correlation between the age and the number of minutes that they can actively engage in new concepts. Is it this, is it an equal number? Like if the child is eight, is it eight minutes or is it a ratio? Yes. So it actually directly says if you’re eight years old, eight minutes is the capacity. However, you know, um, I do obviously it is a, it is a guide, so obviously I’m not sticking to those six minutes with my six year old students. Um, but it definitely keeps me more mindful of, okay, they’ve been sitting for too long. It’s time for something new now. And we know that the research, um, not just in daily five, but across the board does suggest that brain breaks are super important. We have a lot of brain breaks activities on TeachStarter.com . So I’m going to link them in the episode notes of Ally’s episode just below for you to go and check out.

Where can we Access The Daily 5?

Bron: So if people are looking to buy the book, where can you buy it? Is it just on Amazon? Whereabouts can you get hold of it?

Ally: So I think it’s probably from most book shops online. I think, um, I did order it, obviously I couldn’t really find it within Australia. Um, I bought mine from Book Depository, I think. I think that was, yeah. Where I got mine from. Yep. And how did you come across it? So, um, when I started at my school three years ago, a few teachers on my grade were already adopting that practice. And um, but what are, I only knew from placement was just the traditional literacy groups using reading groups where the students were grouped based on reading levels and the students sort of rotated from station to station. So that’s what I already knew. Um, and of course I sort of shied away from this thing that I didn’t know about and stuck with what I already knew.

Um, but then when I was finishing my second year teaching, um, I just felt like I was lacking something. Um, when I was teaching, let’s just see. I felt like I could be definitely doing more, but I wasn’t quite sure what my students were learning, but I just felt like they weren’t as engaged as I lacked, would have latched them to a vein. And I certainly didn’t love how I was already teaching it. Um, so I decided to read the books. Um, and that’s when everything sort of clicked for me. And I remember a key part in the book, um, where the two sisters were talking about their old practice as well before they started doing the daily five and they sort of spoke about when they were doing reading groups, I felt like they were constantly putting out fires. Like it was more of a behaviour management and then they, it would take time away from their reading groups and you know, explicit instruction.

So I totally relate to that and I didn’t realise that there was something that could be done about that. But then they sort of did offer this system, which, um, you know, would bring engagement into literacy and actually foster that love of, of reading and writing. And that’s when I was all in.

When Should Teachers Implement The Daily 5?

Bron: Yeah. So we’ve just started a new year. Is this a good time for teachers who have been doing the traditional reading groups or literacy rotations to take up The Daily 5?

Ally: I definitely think so. Um, it gives the opportunity for a fresh start. I don’t know about you Bronwyn but if I’m trying to do something new, I have to be 110% into it. Otherwise I might not be as dedicated to it. Um, it also gives you the holidays to sort of read the book and wrap your head around the practice. Not that you need a lot of time.

It’s definitely an easy read, which that’s why I loved it. Um, I made all the notes and was excited about all the things. Um, but the other reason is because it definitely is literacy and learning in general. Um, and it’s very hard to train up your class if you’re already have older structures in place. So because I, because usually like I, myself, all my students would resort back to what we were already doing if we just sort of tried to do something maybe. Um, it’s not impossible, but I find when students come to at the start of the year, you’re already teaching them expectations of your classroom anyway. Um, so this is the perfect time to develop those desired focused learning behaviours.

Ally’s Three Best Tips for Teaching The Daily 5

Bron: I think perfectly said. So what are your favourite tips for using The Daily 5?

Ally: So sort of leaning into what I just spoke about, spending time teaching those desired expected, um, behaviours for independent learning in literacy.

So the book actually outlines in detail the first seven weeks and what you should do to train your class. Like it literally scripts it out. And I think that’s why I loved it too, because I could just stick and know what I was doing. And if you stick to that, you build your students’ stamina in reading and writing, um, and that will build the foundations for their independent concentration to focus, um, on their reading and writing goals each day. Um, and thus allow time for you to meet with your small groups or individual students for reading and writing. Um, uninterrupted for the most part too. Yeah. So that’s my main tip. Um, stick to that. First seven weeks, behaviour training because it will pay off 10 fold, um, for the rest of the year. Um, and tip number two, probably believe in it and enjoy it. So when I started, I was a bit antsy because it did take a while to get into what I felt like was the teaching of the content.

Um, especially because in the past I would have just already been deep diving into my guided reading groups, et cetera. But once we did start, it was honestly magical. The focus and the love of learning was so rich and it may made it all so worth it. And I could see how nurturing those early days really were important. Um, take it slow and, and building that love, love of doing what we’re doing every day. So, yeah.

And then my third tip, probably allow yourself to lose what feels like control over your class. I mean, it’s not really, um, you still control your class, but what I mean is that it’s a framework that definitely actually makes your students leaders of their own learning. So you’re transferring them from being passive learners to active learners. Um, so accept that and um, they will show you what they can do and I know it will feel scary and that you actually aren’t telling them what to do during literacy. But by giving them choice, you’re actually fostering that love of reading and writing that will hopefully follow them through life.

Bron: Lovely. Oh my gosh. It’s so beautiful. That is, and like, it’s so true because that is the foundation of all education if you have the literacy skills, but also that passion for reading and writing, it makes everything so much easier with setting them up to be not only learners to the end of grade 12, but also just beyond that whatever they decide to do with their lives. I know that some schools are in school based programs so sometimes it’s not possible to make a change like this. But if you equip yourself with the knowledge and you read the book and you are listening to Ally thinking this is a change that we could really make it our school. Do you have any tips for teachers? Um, I guess to put forward as a proponent for a new system, how to get your team on board with this.

How to Get Your Teaching Team on Board with The Daily 5

Ally: So I definitely think, um, just reading the books will, it will make it clear the principles behind best practice in terms of um, approaching literacy and even if you can’t change up the, the why you deliver literacy, I think there’s a lot to be drawn out of the books anyway to embed in what you are already doing. Like I said before, I was still teaching literacy groups. It just wasn’t in a way that I felt was engaging my students. So even if you read the book and then brought the idea to your principal and said, um, you know, maybe you don’t have to change up the framework of how you’re delivering literacy, but, um, fostering those key principles of student choice of shared collegial discussions.

Bron: As teachers, we always adapt our practice. It’s never the same. Like even if you’re on the same year level, um, consecutive year, you teach things in a different way. Like the pedagogy is different. The content might be exactly the same, but we’re always reflecting and improving on our practice. And it can just be like a small tweak. It doesn’t have to be a whole massive systemic change. It can just be these small tweaks and you get so much bang for your buck out of just making small adjustments. So really good tips there for teachers who might be considering either going into this, um, at the beginning of the year as a, as a conscious, kind of restructure or as a tweak to their system that they’re already using.

Ally: Absolutely, right. And actually from talking to teachers on Instagram, because I do often chat to teachers who I came to try the approach, um, but they’re not really sure how, and you know, we talk about what I do in my classroom and how, um, they’ve tried similar things within their classroom. They’re still doing what they were already doing, but they might embed, you know, more student choice around what they write about or how they focus on their word work each day. Um, that sort of thing. So I think definitely like you said, Bronwyn, um, embedding those little little changes that just basically focuses on engagement in literacy. Um, like you said, it doesn’t have to be big changes, but can just be those little, um, tidbits that can make learning more exciting.

Bron: Did you start at the beginning of 2019?

Ally: Yes, I did. It’s crazy cause it feels like I’ve been doing it forever!

How Does The Daily 5 Help You Grow as an Educator?

Bron: Oh really? Well that’s a good thing. So how has, how, what results have you seen both in your students and in yourself as an educator?

Ally: Yes. So not much has really changed in terms of the practice that I’m doing and I think that’s the most important part that I’ve actually stuck with it. Um, but of course my confidence in teaching literacy has for sure increased 10 fold. And knowing that I am supporting my students the best way that I can. Um, coming out of uni I really didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing in terms of teaching literacy, but this just gave me the tools that I needed, um, to feel more confident in myself, um, to support my students. And I suppose the main results that I have seen this year compared to my other years is a true genuine love for literacy. Um, ask any of my students and they will tell you hands on hot, um, that they love daily five minutes, their favourite part of the day.

And they even get really upset when, you know, schools are busy, we always have events going on and they get upset when we have an event and that means that we have to collapse daily five for the day. They genuinely get sad at all. That’s so cute. I know, which I’m like, you guys are so sweet, but also like I’m sad too. It’s always tomorrow. Yeah. So yeah, definitely that engagement in literacy, which I’ve never seen or had that before in my students to love reading and writing so much. That’s a big win for me as a teacher and inspires me so, so much and makes me want to keep doing what I’m doing. And of course there are other results that are amazing too. So all of my students know their reading and writing goals, and I can see so much growth in them that half the time I can’t keep up.

Bron: I mean, those are the things that we live for, aren’t they? Like to see our students progress, to see them move up levels, to see them comprehending things that six months ago would have just flown straight over the top of their head. Like these are the, these are the things that keep us happy and keep us healthy as teachers as well. So it’s, it’s working for both. Yeah. Really good. Well, Ally, I think we’re going to talk to you soon again, about visible learning and goal setting, but for now, thank you so much for joining me on For the Love of Teaching and I can’t wait to talk to you again.

Ally: Thank you so much for that Bron. Thank you so much for chatting with me about my many loves including The Daily 5.


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