Daily 5 Teacher Time Savers


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Teachers often feel pressed for time, but they can be confident that using Daily 5 maximizes the time available. Here are some ways that the efficient use of time is built into Daily 5 through training, accountability, structures, student supports, and learning environment.


Three Ways to Read a Book: Beginning readers or students learning English sometimes feel frustrated because, they say, they cannot read. They might not be sure how to use their time constructively during Read to Self or Read to Someone. Learning the Three Ways to Read a Book can change all that. By showing children how to read the pictures and retell the story in addition to reading the words, teachers give them valuable opportunities to engage with text. That engagement helps readers use the time productively to focus on their books. It gives their teacher precious time to work with small groups and individuals.

I PICK: When readers know how to choose a good-fit book, they can select wisely. They vet the book based on their purpose for reading, interest, comprehension, and knowledge of the words. Through I PICK, readers save time because they have an assortment of texts on hand that they can understand and enjoy. They do not have to return to the classroom library to search haphazardly for another book or take their teachers or classmates away from their important work. With a good-fit book in hand, they are all set for Read to Self or Read to Someone. To help readers remember the I-PICK process, teachers can share The Good-Fit Bookmark. Keeping good-fit books close at hand in Book Boxes means that those texts are readily accessible to readers. Having a selection of good-fit books—including interesting choices such as graphic novels, magazines, and poetry—by their side helps readers get right down to the fascinating work of reading.

Stamina Building: Daily 5 takes into account the way that learning builds. Whether students are 6 or 16, they need to develop stamina incrementally. Recognizing this developmental process, teachers realize when students have given all that they have and call them back together once stamina is broken. Often teachers create stamina charts or graphs that display how students are moving toward their stamina goal. Concentrating on the minutes of stamina that they have built encourages readers to keep going.

10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence: When students are independent, they use their own time responsibly and respect the time of others. The 10 Steps to Teaching and Learning Independence provide teachers with a protocol that can be used in Daily 5 and Math Daily 3 as well as across the school day. This approach trains students to be self-reliant and accountable. The 10 Steps convey a sense of urgency about what is to be learned and provide opportunities for students to build stamina and practice. They also afford a time for students to reflect on their progress with the target behavior. Since first designing the 10 Steps, The Sisters have offered new insights about Staying Out of the Way: Refining Step 8. Although The Sisters still promote “staying out of the way” so that students do not anchor their on-task behavior to the teacher’s presence, they see the value of providing well-timed support to children who need additional scaffolding for success. This efficient approach maximizes students’ learning time.

I-Charts: When everyone knows what to do and how to do it, no time is lost. I-Charts set forth expectations for student behaviors, ranging from how to transition to the carpet to how to line up. Their guidance gives students time to do what is really important: growing as readers and as writers!


Check-In: Inviting students to check in with their Daily 5 choices saves time that might be frittered away by readers who cannot quite decide what they want to do. If a reader is not ready to declare a choice, the teacher politely says that she will come back to that student. By eliminating that time to “hem and haw,” students make their choices and get to work. On their website and in The Daily 5 text, The Sisters offer Check-In Forms that help the process run smoothly. Calling students in order (even if the teacher does not start with the same child each time) familiarizes children with when their turn will come up. So when students are called, they are ready—with no time lost! Since teachers can easily see each reader’s choices, they can make certain that all children are engaging in meaningful literacy learning and working on Read to Self and Work on Writing daily.

Responsible Choices: Making good choices in Daily 5 allows readers to use every minute of their time. Readers trained in Daily 5 know how to choose a suitable spot where they will be comfortable and able to concentrate on their reading. When choosing a partner for Read to Someone, they realize the importance of selecting a partner who will help them do the all-important work of reading!


Brief Focus Lessons: Created to teach children how to apply the CAFE strategies, Brief Focus Lessons are interspersed between Daily 5 rounds. Short by design and matching the children’s ages in length, these lessons each target one teaching point. By chunking instruction in short intervals that keep children engrossed, teachers save the time spent by redirecting children who have given all that they have in terms of attention.

Rounds of Daily 5: After Daily 5 training and stamina building, children can take part in rounds of approximately 15–20 minutes each. That is time for students to participate in their literacy learning while the teacher confers with a few readers and/or runs a strategy group. Since students have learned that the teacher must be uninterrupted when working with a group, they work independently to accomplish their objectives. That is time well spent!

Share: When Daily 5 concludes each day, students are excited about the books they have read along with the writing they have done, the words they have formed, and the texts they have listened to; they are eager to share. By formalizing a 5–10-minute share, the teacher can honor their learning. In those designated minutes, students can describe their learning and what they have accomplished.

Student Supports

Tactile Objects: Many students benefit from holding on to different kinds of tools as they read. Some gravitate toward a piece of soft fabric or a blanket. Others like to grasp a squishy ball or a stuffed animal. Some enjoy working with play dough to give themselves a little break. Having a basket of these supports on hand calms students and gives them more time for reading and less time for distraction; of course, that means teachers have more time for working uninterrupted with children.

Timers: A timer is a valuable tool for barometer students because it sets parameters that help them do well. In supporting students for stamina building, the teacher can set the timer for increasingly longer times. Students develop the ability to read for lengthier periods of time without needing a teacher to monitor them every minute.

Seating: A cube chair, a wobble seat or cushion, or an exercise ball can meet students’ needs for movement while they work. These special kinds of seats can enable them to concentrate for longer periods of time. When students are comfortable, they can attend better to their urgent literacy learning in Daily 5.

Between Rounds: Those minutes between rounds of Daily 5 are perfect for touching base with barometer students. As teachers cross the room, they can check in with these students. It takes only seconds to give children a word of encouragement or an enthusiastic thumbs-up, but that time makes a world of difference to readers. It goes a long way toward ensuring a smoother round for barometer students.

Learning Environment

Classroom Culture: In a Daily 5 classroom, students work together and problem solve. They cooperate with each other and know that each classmate deserves respect. From the beginning of the school year, they learn to embrace the urgency of their literacy learning. This understanding minimizes time wasted on minor disagreements that squander the time and energy of students and teacher.


Authentic Learning: In Daily 5, children participate in authentic reading and writing experiences that eliminate the need for worksheets; therefore, the teacher can save time and school funds incurred by photocopying worksheets. After school, teachers can use their time in more creative ways than making copies or correcting those worksheets!

Classroom Library: The library is the crown jewel of the classroom. It should be stocked with a variety of texts suitable for the ages and reading tastes of students. In every classroom, readers look forward to book shopping for good-fit texts. To make book-shopping time enjoyable and streamlined, students can shop before school, during a Daily 5 round once a week, or at lunch. Time devoted to organizing the library is well spent because it makes it easier for children to find their good-fit books.

Purposefully Designed Classroom: When classrooms are well organized and contribute to the learning community’s sense of calm and orderliness, teachers and students save time. Everyone knows where everything is—from the headsets for Listen to Reading to the manipulatives for Word Work and the books for Read to Self and Read to Someone, along with the colorful paper and pencils for Work on Writing. A purposefully designed classroom is a beautiful thing!

Comfortable Reading Areas: With an assortment of inviting and attractive reading nooks and crannies, readers can quickly choose one for an enjoyable round of Read to Self. Since children are trained how to select a reading spot that is a good fit for them, they can settle in to reading quickly and quietly without giving up a minute of reading time.

Teachers who are just completing a year with Daily 5 can congratulate themselves for all the precious time they have used well. Those who are looking forward to implementing it can rest assured that it will help them save time and use that time in the best ways possible!


Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (n.d.) The daily CAFE. Retrieved from https://www.thedailycafe.com

Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2014). The daily 5 (2nd ed.). Portland, ME: Stenhouse.


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