Daily 5 Book Study: Chapter 3

I'm back with chapter 3 of The Daily 5: The Second Addition brought to you by Primary Inspired.

We are starting to get into the meat of the Daily 5! I would say that this chapter is the most helpful for me as a teacher. Even if you are choosing not to do Daily 5, this chapter is still so meaningful. In this chapter, the Sisters talk about the ten steps they go through when introducing the Daily 5. The reason why I love this chapter so much is because you can apply these steps to anything you are doing in your classroom to teach independence. We all want that, right? 

First, the Sisters give you a little background as to why these steps are so effective and imperative to follow when introducing something new to a class. They used research from Michael Grinder, who explains that when information is stored in more than one system (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic), memory is improved. 

The goal is to help our students store the desired "movement" in their muscle memory to become part of of their default behavior. The movements, of course, are the procedures and routines that we want them to apply while working independently. 

This involves creating the I chart (like a T chart, but I for independence) where you write what is being taught (Read to Self, for example.) This step seems so basic, yet when I reflect back on my earlier years of teaching, I found that I didn't always state this so explicitly.  

"Setting a purpose and creating a sense of urgency establishes a culture in which every moment of learning and practicing counts." I think this is always important with teaching because kids do want to know why we are learning something. I know I do. Think about when you are forced to sit through a presentation. Aren't you thinking, "How does this benefit me?" or "How will this help me be better at ----?" We want our students to see how important reading is, and how valuable this learning time can be.

One change from the first edition is that the Sisters no longer recommend brainstorming the desired behaviors because the length of the lesson became too long (remember the brain research from the previous chapter with the correlation between age and focus time.) Now, they record the desired behaviors on the I-chart in front of the students. 

The Sisters also point out that how we choose to communicate these desired behaviors is significant. Instead of using the word "don't" over and over (don't walk around; don't talk), state  the exact behavior that you do want to see: Stay in one spot; work quietly

This isn't anything new, but they did make a good point in this section. We all know modeling for our students is effective and necessary for them to learn our expectations. However, we don't always give it the time it deserves. I know I was guilty of this!

For me, this is always a tough one. I always had those kids who loooooved this part because it was an excuse to be silly. Sometimes it felt like this was the most memorable part of the day, which of course, is not what I wanted. I was relieved to read that the Sisters did recognize this problem and have a solution. They choose a student who "frequently exhibits off task behavior" to model the undesirable behavior. Their theory is that this allows those kids to get the desired attention in a more productive way. It is an opportunity to shape his/her behaviors. The key is bringing the class back and following up with questions like, "If this continues, will he/she become a better read?" At this point, you can have that same child model the correct behavior. 

The Sisters also note that for kindergarten students, it's best to only teach them the desired behavior so they do not get confused. I was so happy to read this!

This is all about teaching students to choose a responsible work space. They recommend calling over 5 students at a time to grab their book boxes and find spot in the room. This is more efficient that one at a time because that would take too long and possibly wear out stamina time before it even begins. This was always an important time for me to watch to see what areas the kids saw as "prime real estate". It's funny how it can change from year to year. There is always that spot, that for whatever reason, becomes the coveted spot. We don't have time to keep track of who sits there and how often. At the same time, we want to make sure our students aren't all hovering in the same spot or arguing over one spot. I would love to hear if any of you has tips for this issue! :)

This was amazing to watch my first year. It truly works! The Sisters suggest letting the students' behavior set the pace. They recommend starting with 3 minutes, but that is just a suggestion. You will watch your students and determine how long they last. It may be more, it may be less. My advice: Don't push it. Sometimes we want our kids to feel success and make it longer than you had hoped. If you prolong it when their stamina is broken, you will regret it. Remember we setting the tone for the year. By stopping our students at the first sign of stamina loss, we are establishing our expectations. Don't make them feel bad if they don't make it to three minutes. Just encourage them for the next time! A stamina chart can work wonders! Students are so excited to watch that chart grow. :) 
A week ago, I posted a summer stamina graph to use at home. I adjusted it to use at the beginning of they year. You can download it here. 
I also included a blank one. :)

This step is maybe the most eye opening for me. I always thought it was best to be praising students during this time, checking in with them, walking around to monitor, etc. The Sisters make such a good point though! When we do that,  our students' "on-task behavior has been anchored to us." They aren't really independent if they are used to having us constantly check in with them and praise them. Once that's gone, they fall apart. Remember the goal is to eventually be able to use this time to conduct a reading group or a conference with a student. We need to rely on the rest of the class to truly be independent and not have to rely on us for support. 

Once you see a student showing you that his/her stamina is gone, use a quiet signal to get the class' attention and bring them back to you. The signal should be different enough to grab the attention of your students, but not too loud. I found this to be very powerful. To calmly and peacefully end a session sets the tone for the next activity. The sisters recommend using chimes or a rainstick. 

I bought a music wand when I was at a conference a few years back. Little did I know, it would be one of my best purchases ever! I love this thing. You gently tap a surface and it makes the perfect sound. There are a ton of other Music Wand options to choose from!

After calling the class back together, refer back to the I-chart and ask students to reflect on their personal behavior. Go through the chart, pointing to each expectation, and ask your students to hold up 1, 2, 3, or 4 fingers to indicate how they think they did. I remember skipping this step back in the day. I think this is a really important step though. In a way, they are holding themselves accountable. Based on these self-refelctions, students are then asked to make a goal for the next round. They can share this goal with an elbow buddy, write their goal, or just make a internal note to themselves. 

These ten steps are used for each session when introducing the Daily 5. During the first days of launching Daily 5, they do three to four practice sessions each day. I found it very helpful to spread these sessions out throughout the day. My students were excited to "get another chance" throughout the day. The goal during this time is to build stamina and to model/practice behaviors repeatedly so they become "default behaviors."

Head on over to The Crazy School Teacher who is hosting this week's chapter to see what other people are saying about this chapter. She also has a freebie for you with all of these steps on one page.  


  1. I've never heard of a music wand before. I can't wait to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation, Sarah! :)

  2. I can't wait to start this up with my class! It seems like a lot of steps, but makes so much sense! The time we put into things in the beginning will pay off.

  3. Sarah, You ROCKED this post! Holy Moly! I am super-stoked to learn that the Sisters changed thought on modeling behaviors and shortened that by simply providing the "desired behaviors" right away! TIME SAVER!!! I also love how you explained the urgency of WHY we should stay the hell out of the way during Stamina Building....I literally just CHECKED myself. Shame on me and I am not going to "spy-hover" anymore! Can't wait for next week's update! Great Job Sarah!

    Mrs. DiBenedetto's First Grade Critter Cafe

    1. Thank you so much Julie! Your comments always make me so happy to read. :)

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