Using Daily 5 for the Middle School
The Daily 5 book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser is subtitled Fostering Independence in the Elementary Grades. However, I’ve found the philosophy and concepts found in the book work well for middle school students as well. Fostering independence is crucial to developing lifelong readers. Students take to the Daily 5 format and appreciate the independence and choice embedded in the program.
I was starting a new reading class three years ago. It was at the same time the elementary schools in my district were beginning to use the Daily 5 program. In conversation with the literacy coach who was spearheading the project, I began to see that my philosophy for reading instruction meshed with the Daily 5 authors.
My next step was to observe teachers who were comfortable using Daily 5. I spent time in a 2nd grade and a 5th grade classroom. I was impressed with the level of independence I saw in both classrooms as well as how focused the students were on the literacy tasks they were engaged in.
While conducting internet research, I found a master’s thesis on the use of Daily 5 in a middle school. I purchased the thesis through a clearinghouse. After that I was able to conduct the author. She has offered her thesis without charge for whoever would like it. I can get it to anyone who is interested in reading it.
That was three years ago. I began using Daily 5 in an exploratory class called Reading Essentials. The data shows that this approach is working and helping students make increases in their reading levels.
I’ve made many changes to Reading Essentials these past three years. Because of my limited time with students-40 minutes daily-I cannot use all five activities included in Daily 5.
The core of my program is Read to Self and mini-lessons. Read to Self lasts about 25 minutes with a 15 minute mini-lesson. That does not seem like enough Read to Self time but if you look at the additional time a student spends reading over a session of class, that amounts to 12.5 hours of reading for each six-week session.
Read to Self is used along with the CAFÉ Menu during conferences. Our class roster is usually 10 students. I have a parapro working with me which means every student has a conference 1 – 2 times a week.
There is a daily class session for each grade-6 - 8. Hopkins Middle School Discovery Classes last three weeks. So each session of Reading Essentials lasts for two Discovery cycles. I provide three sessions per year. A student may take one session. A few students are enrolled in two or occasionally all three sessions.