Kids Love to Read. Let them.

I had the privilege of hearing Pernille Ripp and Erin Klein speak a couple of times at ISTE.  The topic of their presentations, and of many conversations with them so many other incredible educators was literacy.  In short, the message was clear: kids love to read. Let them!

An incredible thing happened at my school this year.  We got out of the way and let kids read, and did they ever! Let me explain how.  At the beginning of the school year, the entire staff agreed to take a different approach to literacy education and get kids reading.  All kids.  Often.

We did it by looking at the Daily 5, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser and implementing common language across the school.  Different classes implemented more, or less of the elements of the Daily 5 framework, but we were all committed to Read-to-self and the common language in the framework.  Read-to-self, stamina, urgency, independence and most importantly good-fit-books became words that all students were familiar with.  We taught students how to select good fit books.  They understood that, like a pair of shoes, what fits me might not fit you and that’s okay as long as we all can find a pair of shoes.  We taught them that nobody starts as a good reader, but with practise, anyone can become one.  Day after day, we built stamina, and students independently chose the books that led to successful reading and a love of reading.  Wondrously, our times to read-to-self became magical times in classrooms as students lost themselves in books of their choice.  No tests, no logs, no reports, just book after book after book.

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Reimagining Daily 5 and CAFE for intermediate grades: Readers’ CRAFT.

Beginnings

I was first really introduced to the Daily 5 about a year ago when my wife and I requested a meeting with our daughter’s teacher to learn more about this program that was happening in their class.  I immediately liked it, and began to imagine how it could work in my grade 6/7 class. Due to other circumstances (see my last post), I had a lot on my mind and didn’t pursue the matter…  Fast forward a year and I find myself teaching grade 6/7 in that same school my students attend.  There is a whole-school focus to implement elements of the Daily 5, but we have 10 primary divisions and only 5 intermediate divisions.  Needless to say things are often primary focussed and I again found myself thinking about how the this could all work in upper intermediate. My principal ordered a copy of The Daily 5 book (by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) for each staff member, so I figured I could start with Read to Self and have time to figure our the rest when the book arrived, so I jumped right in with both feet.

Students immediately took to Read to Self and had a sense of purpose with their independent reading that I haven’t experienced before.  We made I-charts, built stamina, learned all about good-fit-books, and plotted our progress…

Read to Self Plot

Very shortly, the class had built up their stamina to sustain their reading for forty minutes and I didn’t know what to do with the time because the book hadn’t arrived yet.  However, The Daily 5 book arrived shortly before Christmas break and I devoured it before picking up The CAFE Book too.  Over these past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to continue.

Next Steps

Now that I’ve read the books, I know how to break down my literacy time, insert mini lessons, conference with students and add new elements of the Daily 5.  The next element will be Work on Writing, but more on that shortly.

What I’m looking forward to right now are those mini lessons and student conferences.  But this is where it’s taken a lot of thought to adjust for upper intermediate.  Much of the Daily 5 focuses on emergent reader strategies, and by grade 6/7 there are few of them left.  Does that mean that I drop Listen to Reading or Read to Someone? No, I don’t think so, but they might look different than what’s presented in the books.  Many of the strategies might look different too, especially under the Accuracy and Fluency headings.

Reading some blog posts at Ladybug’s Teacher Files and Runde’s Room also got me thinking about the CAFE analogy.  I like what these two have done and changed it to Readers’ CRAFT.  First, I connect more to this constructivist approach as it reminds us that we are doing more than taking in items off of a menu (an over simplification, I know), but we, as readers, are selecting the tools needed to build ourselves up as good readers.  I’ve gone so far as to call the new menu a Readers’ Craft Toolbox.

In the Reader’s CRAFT, C, A and F are taken from CAFE to be Comprehension, Accuracy and Fluency, but R is for Response to Text and T is for Text Elements, or Terms and Vocabulary, depending on who you talk to. The author of Ladybug’s Teacher Files uses Text Elements because her grade 5 class is has a high number of ELL students, and that works for her, but I think that’s just an expansion of the Use text features strategy from the Comprehension category.  I prefer the idea of Terms and Vocabulary both because it stays closer to Boushey and Moser’s Expand Vocabulary, and because Jen Runde’s descriptor is: I can find, understand, and use interesting words. Which both speaks to the constructivist in me and is again close to Boushey and Moser’s intent.

Response to Text is the significant difference in the change from CAFE to CRAFT.  I know that it begins to move away from Boushey and Moser’s focus solely on the reading, but in the intermediate grades, where literacy moves from learning to read toward reading to learn, reading responses have an integral part and I feel that they can be integrated into the CAFE structure both formally and informally as students develop as good readers. This structure will help me leverage them better as part of a more holistic program.

Reader's CRAFT

Work on Writing

The next element of the Daily 5 that I intend to introduce is Work on Writing. I’m not quite ready to do that yet because I want to do some more research.  In my reading of books and countless blogs these past few weeks I came across one blog were the author developed a writing menu based on the Six Traits of Writing for a K/1/2 classes.  I’ve used the Six Traits to structure my writing program in previous years and love the idea of integrating it into a CAFE type menu, so I’ll see what I can do for grade 6/7.  Unfortunately, I can’t find that blog again as I write this, but I’ll update the post to give credit if/when I come across it again. But it’s likely somewhere in one of the posts I’ve pinned on my Daily 5 Pinterest Board. I also just noticed (literally) that Jen Runde has rearranged the traits: Ideas, Organization, Voice, (Excellent) Word Choice, Sentence Fluency and Conventions into a VOICES menu.  I think I’ll have to take a closer look at this and see how the Six Trait strategies can be used this way… there’s so much to learn hers, and I’m so excited about it!

More Integration

I also need to spend more time Adrienne Gear’s Reading Power and Writing Power books.  The strategies in those will fit well into both CRAFT and VOICES, so to start, I don’t think that I’ll give students a personal copy of these but will instead give them a blank copy that they can fill in with the strategies that we learn in the mini lessons.  That way, I’ll be able to modify the lists as I learn alongside the students.

FREEBIES

CRAFT and VOICES are a work in progress for me, and I still need to figure out if it will be Daily 5 or Daily 4 (I don’t see Word Work working out with my class, unless it’s just a time to work on their spelling program) but because I’ve spent a ton of time on it, and I like to share, this link is a free copy of the CRAFT board and other forms I recreated to setup my Daily 5 pensieve. I’ve provided a PDF of the CRAFT board headers to preserve the fonts because I created it in a Mac version of MS Word that many might not have standard fonts, but I’ve included the .docx file of everything to make it free to change and personalize.

CRAFT Board Headers (PDF, docx)
Individual Reading Conference (PDF, docx)
Individual Writing Conference (PDF, docx)
Keeping Track Conference Record (PDF, docx)
Menu Cards (docx)
Reader’s CRAFT Toolbox (PDF, docx)
Strategy Groups Instruction (PDF, docx)

The files are licensed under a Creative Commons, non-commercial, share-alike license, meaning you’re free to use them and tweak them, as long as you give credit to me for my contribution (as I have done for those I have built upon) and don’t make any financial gain.

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