Friday, October 14, 2011

School Year 2011-2012

I am just finishing my first session of Reading Essentials Class. I use the Daily 5 format to structure a reading intervention for middle school students in Hopkins, Michigan.

Once again we are seeing good gains in our students. We use an RTI approach with the AIMSWEB as our universal screener. The scores on this test help us pick students to take an intensive 3-6 week reading intervention.

I will be sharing the scores and the gains we saw in the upcoming week.

Anyone else out there using Daily 5 format in a middle school.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summary of Semester 1

Reading Essentials Class -Year End Report

Reading Essentials Class –January 4 – May 27

5 days a week

Daily Schedule

7th Grade- 10:21 – 11:01

8th Grade- 11:25 – 12:05

6th Grade-11:55 – 12:35

During the semester, I saw a total of 32 students for various amounts of time.

6th Grade-9 students

7th Grade- 14 students

8th grade-9 students

Reading Block

The 40 minute class session was divided into Reading Block and Lesson Block. I started out with a smaller reading block and worked to build the students’ stamina for silent reading. I started at 3 minutes as suggested by the Daily Five but within 3 days we were up to 20 minutes of reading without interruptions. I taught the Read to Self as suggested by the Daily Five book and the students responded to it positively very quickly.

The plan was to gradually introduce other aspects of the Daily Five program such as Read to Someone and Listen to Reading. I did introduce Read to Someone but did not continue with it because of several factors. I found that the students did not focus with Read to Someone. They viewed it as a social time. This may be connected to the middle school mind developmentally but I think it was also an outgrowth of the type of students I had. These students all struggled with reading so it may have been uncomfortable for them to read in front of a peer. Several students continued to ask for Read to Someone throughout the semester. It may be worth thinking about for the future with more stringent guidelines put in place.

Lesson Block

Once the Reading Block was functioning smoothly, we settled into a routine with a consistent Lesson Block for twenty minutes daily. I had originally planned to conduct small group instruction sessions during this time but my testing showed that all students were having difficulty with decoding multisyllabic words. I used the Qualitative Reading Inventory to assess their decoding skills with single words and all students were below to significantly below grade level in this area. So our lesson time was always done in whole group.

We covered the following topics during Lesson Block time.

· Good fit book (choosing appropriate reading material)

· Word Identification Strategy (Strategic Instruction Model Learning Strategy)

· Prefix & Suffix identification and meanings

o part of DISSECT but we went in more depth and worked on word meaning

o We also incorporated work on this in game time

· Fluency instruction & practice

· Game day-Each Thursday Chris Navis had game day during the Lesson Block

· Review of Visual Imagery Strategy


Assessment was the basis for all instructional decisions made in Reading Essentials. AIMSWEB data was used for initial placement in Reading Essentials. Teacher and parent input was also used to determine the students who would benefit the most from this intervention.

Once students began the class, I did additional assessment to pinpoint the cause of the difficulty they were experiencing in reading. I expected to see a mix of decoding and comprehension difficulties. This was not the case. Possibly because I chose the very lowest readers from each grade, there was a commonality in all their reading assessments.

As each lesson was presented, students were assessed to ensure mastery.

AIMSWEB progress monitoring was used for assessments of progress.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I have discovered a resource that is going to be very helpful for my work in my Daily 5 classroom. offers assessment for reading fluency, comprehension and math. The website is supported through a federal grant. You can read an explanation of at progress monitoring system.

I am using with all my classes today as 'field testing' it for several days. My field test including paying my grandchildren $1 for each test they took for me. I wanted to see how close the tests were to their actual grade level. I also wanted to know what kinds of data I could get for them. I am very impressed so far.

Have any of you tried I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More on Three Ways to Read a Book

I have a few additional comments to make about our 3 ways to read a book lesson which was my previous post. First, in case you are not aquainted with the Daily 5, here are the 3 ways to read a book.
1. read the words 2. read the pictures 3. retell the story to someone

After Mrs. Leep's lesson on three ways to read a book, I took the 6th graders on step further. I let each of them pick a picture out of their reading material in their tubs. Most of them had magazines with lots of pictures. They were to show their picture to the class using the document camera. The class had to guess what the picture was showing. Then the student read the caption to the class and they compared how close they were with their guesses.

This gave the students additional practice on reading & looking at the captions plus it was fun to compare the guesses with the actual caption. Sometimes they weren't even close.

If you are wondering why I used this lesson for middle school, you might want to read this entry from the Daily Cafe web Why would I teach 3 Ways to Read a Book when so many of them are reading chapter books?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Three Ways to Read A Book

I had worried that the content of the Daily 5 program would be too elementary for my middle school students. But so far, I haven't found that to be the case. We recently covered the topic of Three Ways to Read a Book.

I had a literacy coach from our elementary school come and present a specially prepared lesson.
She found an article with four pictures that she used to present the lesson.

Mrs. Leep talked about the three ways to read. I had told her before she came that my students really enjoyed reading magazines during Read to Self but I was worried because most of them seemed to be only looking at the pictures. So Mrs. Leep tailored her lesson to meet that challenge. She emphasized the importance of reading the caption to use pictures to help you understand the article or book. She picked an article from National Geographic for Kids. We looked at the pictures which she had put into a Powerpoint. Then we discussed the pictures-first without looking at the caption and then after reading the caption.

If you would like the Powerpoint we used for the Three Ways to Read a Book lesson, just drop me an email and I'd be glad to share it with you. Email:

Friday, January 28, 2011

One Month Under Our Belt

I meant to post every week. But I have been so engrossed with my class that I haven't taken time to reflect carefully on what we're doing.

I started an intervention class at our middle school for readers who are 'well below average' in their skills. I have 3 classes-6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade with 25 students total.

The Daily 5 format is working very well. Most students enter the classroom quietly and retrieve their book tub and begin reading. They have built their stamina up to 15 minutes although my 8th graders today read for 30 minutes because a school schedule change gave us extra time. They had no problem sustaining their focus for that time and really seemed to enjoy the extra time.

We are one month into the class. I've learned much about the Daily 5 and the Cafe Menu and it really does work at the middle school level.

We have two teachers in the classroom on Monday, Wednesday and Friday which means we conference with each student at least once a week and sometimes twice weekly.

Today, I introduced the Strategic Instruction Model Word Identification Strategy. This strategy is from the University of Kansas-Center for Research on Learning. I had not planned to use it for the entire class but rather in a strategy group. But my preliminary testing with the Qualitative Reading Inventory showed me that all 25 students are below grade level in decoding. So the Word Identification Strategy is meant for them.

Today I shared with each student exactly what their decoding level is. I wasn't sure I should do that. But at this point in their schooling, I wanted to build a sense of urgency in their work in my class. After they saw their decoding level-which ranged from 2nd to 6th grade, each student set a goal for where they wanted to be at the end of our strategy instruction. Most students wanted to be at their appropriate grade level but one student put, "I want to read a good-fit book." So I guess my good-fit book lesson on Wednesday worked.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Read to Self begins with Great Success

I started Read to Self from the first day of Reading Essentials Class. However yesterday we developed an I chart and practiced building our stamina. I wondered how this lesson would go for middle school students. So I followed the format demonstrated by the Sisters in the book, Daily 5. I also viewed the video on

As I taught the lesson, I felt like I was just copying what I had read and watched. And I guess I was. But it worked with my middle school students. I even had students model good and bad Read to Self behavior. In each grade, 6th, 7th and 8th, I picked a student to model bad behavior in my mind. When I asked for a volunteer, in each class the volunteer was the student that I thought would do the best job modeling inappropriate behavior. The models reveled in showing us what NOT to do. All three of them looked disappointed when I asked them to show us good behavior but they followed through doing a nice job.

Doing the students had built their stamina up to 12 minutes. They wanted more time but I held to 12 minutes which is 4 times more than the 3 minutes we started with just 2 days ago. At the end of today's Read to Self, one student said to me, "This class goes so fast. Read to Self feels like one minute." Just enough encouragement to keep me going in this class. More reports to follow!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Day Live

Today was my first day teaching my Daily Five class. Yesterday was a whirl wind as the principal and I met with a potential candidate to work alongside me in the class and teach the class when I'm not in the building. Chris came on board immediately and she and I worked together. I started by sharing my philosophy of reading teaching and the Daily 5 approach. We then worked on our classroom while getting to know each other. She must have been overwhelmed with every thing we did.

But she was here this morning when I arrived and we hit the ground running. For our first day, we had to go to existing classes and pick up our students, bring them to our new classroom and begin our Daily 5 life together.

Our classes are called Reading Essentials-6, Reading Essentials-7 and Reading Essentials -8. You can read about the class at our website at

The students were willing to listen to my beliefs that we could take a journey together to improve their reading. They listened somewhat skeptically as they shared their outside interests. With each student, I asked if they had to practice to get better at what they liked to do. "Do you have to practice horseback riding to get better?" Of course the answer is "Yes!"
It is the same with reading. You must read to get better.

Tomorrow is the introduction of Read to Self. We'll see how long middle schoolers can sustain their stamina. We will probably start with 3 minutes just like the Sisters recommend.