I received my books last night and immediately got out my orange highlighter to get started. At first I thought it would require some extra concentration (The Bachelorette Show was on) but I was totally enthralled. I’m going to actually participate in several book studies this summer because I do not have my assignment for next year and I might as well view the D5 from several angles. So here are my thoughts based on the questions prepared by Mel from Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations Blog Hop:

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?

Yikes! I’ve certainly have been in those two classrooms and somewhere in between. This last year, I was particularly challenged because I was placed in an intervention class. I worked with students with varying exceptionalities as well as students who had scored in the lowest 25% of their peers in State Mandated Tests the year before. Knowing that I needed to remediate and motivate my students, I tried to do many cooperative learning activities in which the students could benefit from learning from each other, be actively engaged in lessons and allow me flex time to work with small groups. However, the activities were usually cut short because of a behavior problem or simply because my students did not have a role model in their groups that could guide their activities. I really like the way Gail and Joan have dilineated exactly what the first 20 days of my curriculum will look like in order for me to train and re-train the students explicitly.

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers?

I taught fourth grade this year and writing was emphasized because of the Florida Writes Test. We were given a packet filled with released prompts to help the students learn to distinguish between writing narrative or expository essays. This was probably better for the students if we had given them a preview in the 3rd grade and had them use the packet during the summer. I had to start from SCRATCH. My students could not tell me what a subject or predicate was, nor did they even write using complete sentences. Needless to say, many could not spell or remember to capitalize and punctuate.

So it took some DRASTIC measures and I invested in a few books using the Four Square Writing Method. We did nothing but this for the entire first quarter and it proved very effective for my students. We eventually moved to less restricted writing and taught my students to write with the purpose of sharing what they write with each other. Another blogger, Steph, from Teaching in Room 6, helped me teach my students to use T.A.G. Writing and that was also successful. The results in Florida were dismal over all, but my students performed as well as (or as poorly, if you see the glass half empty) as the students in the general ed and gifted students in my school! NOT TOO SHABBY!

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?

Simply stated in one word, “autonomy.” I’m still a skeptic considering the dynamics of the population I work with.

That just about sums it all for now. Feel free to leave a comment or two if you have any ideas you want to share about this first Chapter.

Mrs. P