It is the beginning of a new school year, and whether we’re new to the Daily 5 and CAFE or a seasoned expert, we teachers want to instill in our students the joyful habit of reading while still cultivating comprehension and stamina. How to help our students reach this goal is more of a challenge this school year because many of us will be leading remote lessons; hence, our students will need to practice the majority of the Daily 5 skills at home.
Something that helped me connect the reading routines we were practicing in the classroom with those I wanted to continue when we moved to distance learning was incorporating the Daily 5 skills into my students’ daily independent reading calendar at home. I transformed the at-home log of reading minutes into a monthly literacy calendar on Google Slides. My students could choose one (or more) of the Daily 5 skills—Read to Self, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, and Word Work—to practice at home and type the code for their choice Monday through Thursday in their virtual literacy calendar. (Fridays through Sundays were bonus days.)
To explain my rationale for revising the calendar midyear, I emailed a letter to parents. In it I reviewed the importance of the Daily 5 and how it had become part of our daily in-class routine. I also listed numerous activities and ideas found on the Daily CAFE website to inspire fun and interesting ways for my students to practice all five skills, sometimes with their entire family.
In addition to having students turn in their literacy calendars at the end of the month, I asked them to reflect on the literacy skills they had chosen to focus on, comment on what they had learned about themselves as readers, and share what they thought they’d like to focus on in the next month. My students filled out a Google Doc with sentence frames that they could complete and submit to me in Google Classroom when they were finished. This new system supported a seamless transition from a hard copy reading calendar into a virtual literacy calendar and is one I plan to implement when introducing the Daily 5 this year.
Distance teaching and learning is our new “normal,” and teachers need to make that pivot to create authentic assignments that help students meet academic expectations. However, we know what works best with our students, and sometimes all it takes is a new twist on a tried-and-true practice to make it “virtually” foolproof and easy to use.