Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Calling ALL Daily 5 and CAFE Users

I've been busy working away at getting ready for the new school year. I officially head back to work next week Monday (for a voluntary data team meeting), Tues. and Weds are work days. Wednesday we get to meet our new students and the kids get an opportunity to drop off supplies. I have been busy setting up (still nowhere near done), writing out post cards to my 25 new students welcoming them to our class, introducing myself, and inviting them to meet and greet day. On top of that..I've been stressing about planning. I need to make sure that EVERYTHING is ready to walk into on the first day of school because Thurs. and Friday we have DLWOP days (directed leave without pay). This is basically a furlough..but with a different name :/ Anyways, my best friend had invited me to my home island, Maui for a weekend getaway at one of the most amazing and beautiful hotels! For those of you who have been to Maui, it's the Grand Wailea
This is one of their many pools

They also have a bunch of different water slides all over.

Picture of the swim-up Grotto Bar and Restaurant in Maui, Hawaii.

The coolest thing is that they have this bar in the pool!! I remember as a kid always going and being so excited to order an oreo milkshake!! This will be my first time actually ordering an adult beverage I'm looking forward to that!! They also have booths further into the cave....

ANYWAYS..before I can get to there, I need to finish planning for the school year. I'm stuck planning at home and haven't' been in school because..I'm getting sick :(. I came home from working in my room on Monday and felt really weak, had the chills, and had a really bad headache. My boyfriend came home and took my temp. I had 99.9. Not so bad. I took a nyquil and went straight to bed. I was so uncomfortable in my sleep and was freezing yet burning up. I woke up at 5 because I needed some ice cold water..I was just too hot (especially with Hawaii weather and no AC). I had a 102 fever. NOW my throat hurts :( I've luckily been able to keep the fever and chills at a minimum by taking some aspirin. SOOO as I'm planning..I need some help from all of you Daily 5 and CAFE users. I know this is the perfect time to shout out for some help, since I know so many are reading the book this summer and jumping aboard. I

This year I really want to begin implementing Daily 5 and CAFE. I remember in my student teaching days, the first time I was placed into a public school classroom that used a basal; I was so disappointed! I went home and vividly remember telling my mom that I HATED the basal, especially those awful workbooks!! I felt that the students weren't even being challenged and that they didn't care or try when doing the pages. They did it without thinking and it had no meaning to them.

Fast forward a few years..and I'm guilty to say that I am a basal user :( When I entered my grade as a new (fresh out of college) teacher, my gl was HUGE on common assessments and specifically said that i NEED to use it. We have spent the past two years creating common assessments for our basal stories..and this past year we worked on changing them all to fit the common core standards. As a first year teacher, I felt safe using it. I was really glad to have it because I felt like I had no idea what to teach, how to teach, and what the students needed to know/where expected to do. This past school feelings have changed. I had an extremely low group of readers. The basal did NO GOOD. Just as the sisters say, students need to choose books that interest them that are at their level. Some in my grade level do not agree, and feel that they need to be reading at their grade level. That is the reason I continued the basal my second year. The students struggled, didn't understand the stories, weren't interested (heck, I'm not even interested in those stories..and I love to read!). Most of the language block was spent explaining the story to them in my own words and me getting very frustrated. I felt that it did not help them at all :( I felt horrible as a teacher. During the last few weeks we began reading Charlotte's Web. The students LOVED this story and for many..(I hate to admit) it was probably their first time REALLY reading a chapter book and being engaged in what they were reading. I saw so much growth in the last few weeks than I did the entire year. Because of this, I decided to take a stand...I put on my big girl pants, and announced to my grade level I was probably going to ditch our basal for Daily 5 and CAFE.

I've been doing my reading and have a few questions for those of you who are experienced in using this in your classroom.
1. How do you do assessments?? I've been hearing people talk about DRA's (I have no idea what that is?!)
2. For those of you who are in testing grades, have you seen a significant improvement in scores since you have been implementing daily 5/CAFE compared to the days of using a basal?
3. I was thinking of assigning the basal stories for homework and maybe one constructed response question a night based on the story. Then on Friday giving them our grade level assessment. That way we still do have common assessments..What are your thoughts on this??

I would REALLY appreciate your help on this because I'm really stressing about starting this. I have kind of figured out a schedule that I would like to use. I don't have as much time for my language block (about 90 minutes). I would love to hear what your schedule looks like. I'm nervous about not being able to help my students..I don't consider myself a strong reading teacher. I really LOVE teaching math and that comes easy for me. Reading on the other hand has always been a struggle. I love to read and as a child I loved to read. BUT I was that child that when given something I did not choose, I did not understand one word. I read beautifully but didn't understand what I read..yet none of my teachers really taught me comprehension....I keep telling myself that just the time alone of being able to get real reading done will help my students. I thought about it and really..I don't give real reading time. It's always used as a time filler or to keep them busy.


  1. I was in a similar situation. I was the new one to the grade level and they had their "traditions." One way to "bridge" D5/CAFE would be using the basal as a mentor text for a genre and/or strategy. I'm sure some of the stories are good. Publishers try to have real literature from real authors. (Mine has Patricia Pollaco.) Plus, you know how the students tend to be excited to read something you've read. Well...they just need to crack open the basal! :) I rarely use the workbook pages. Instead, my students use thinkmarks to prepare for partner or group discussions with the basal story/strategy/genre.

    I don't know if this helps or not, but I wish you all the best! It's just so much more powerful and meaningful for the students to select their own reading material.

    Sorry I don't have data on whether or not it's made a difference. For common assessments, my team will still use the comprehension skill tests from our basal series.

    Yes, consider sending home the basal for homework. As my team met and discussed our transition to a reader's workshop, my principal shared that her son's third grade teacher used to send home the basal and assign them to read a story. She said that was not only a great bonding experience, but gave her a great perspective on him as a reader. Parents will realize what is considered "grade level" and will see first hand how their child handles it.

    Grade Three is the Place for Me

    1. Thanks so much Janis!! This was so helpful for me! Just curious, what are think marks?

  2. Hi Courtney!

    We have Basals too, but I hardly ever use them! I just pick out a couple stories that my kiddos always love, like one about the Titanic, and I make sure to provide a lot of supplementary books that my kiddos can read that are at a variety of grade levels! I am the only 4th grade teacher at my school, so I don't have common assessments or other teachers who I have to follow, so I really get to do my own thing! A lot of times I miss the collaboration parts of teaching, but in some cases like this it is nice! I have found that the CAFE program really helps me assess my students because I get to spend individual time with all of them and help them pick out goals to work on and routinely check if they are meeting their goals. This year is the first year I used CAFE with the Daily 5 and I felt like I knew my students as readers better this year than ever before!!

    In response to your question about the reading responses I have my kiddos do, they can do it with whatever book they are currently reading... in school or at home! After reading the Daily 5 and The Book Whisperer I have found that it is so important that my students are spending a lot of time reading books they are interested in at their level, so they are constantly reading in my class! I have also found that the more they read a book in class, the more they want to continue reading it at home because they get hooked on it!! So usually when they read at home they are reading the chapter book that they started at school, or vice versa. Their reading responses also tell me a lot about their comprehension and I use these as an assessment tool as well and ask follow up questions or meet with them to discuss their responses as needed! Hope that helps!

    Lessons with Laughter

    1. Thanks so much Molly!! I am feeling better and better about jumping in this year! :)

  3. I'm teaching third grade this year and can't wait to share ideas! When I was student teaching we used a Basal and I just thought that's the way things worked. Last year was my first year in the classroom and I used a modified Daily 5 and LOVED it! The kids loved their independent reading time because they read what THEY wanted! Can't wait to share ideas! Stop by my blog sometime! :)

    Elementary Adventure

  4. It's funny I just came across your blog and I'm struggling with some of the same issues. I just blogged about is yesterday at I'm going to be teaching fifth grade and we use Imagine It! Not sure which basal you use, but I do value the predictability having a basal gives to the kids and to the parents. I still plan on using the assessments and it may be that one of the Read to Self and Read to Someone days is used to read the basal. I know that completely goes against the aspect of choice, but if I left it up to my strugglers to read the story at home it wouldn't happen. My mini lessons between choices will be based on the skill the story focuses on and my small groups will either be on that skill or on another one if everyone has mastered the skill.