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Exploring The Daily Five: Classroom Management During Reading Groups in First Grade Lisa Banner University of Alaska Southeast

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Abstract This study measures the effectiveness of The Daily Five (Boushey & Mosher, 2006), a literacy

management program. This study attempts to answer the question, What do I do with my class during reading groups? Is The Daily Five (2006) an effective tool? Literature is reviewed in order to compare current educational practice and determine an instructional remedy to be tested. Effectiveness is determined by measuring three components: The amount of student reading progress, the amount of on-task behavior exhibited during the study, and students independent motivation and enjoyment of the program. Three methods of assessment are used: A pre and post-assessment of reading fluency, interval time sampling observations, and student interviews. The program is measured in a first grade classroom during one-hour literacy learning blocks for three weeks. Data shows that reading fluency is increased, students display a high rate of on-task behavior, and students enjoy the program. After analyzing the data, this study shows that The Daily Five (2006) is a qualified success as an answer to the question, What do I do with my class during reading groups? The project concludes with suggestions for further research.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Introduction This research project attempts to answer the question: What do I do with the rest of the class during reading groups?

When I began teaching first grade, it did not take me long to realize that teaching children to read is a challenging task. Children need daily instruction and practice in small groups and individually. Teachers need to be available to listen and assist each student. In order to make themselves available, most teachers organize reading groups. They set aside time to rotate groups so that every child has direct instruction during reading each day. This reading block may last up to an hour or more. While reading groups are very effective for teaching the children involved in the group, a problem typically arises with the rest of the class, those who are waiting for their turn. Waiting is not only difficult for little ones; it is an inappropriate waste of valuable instructional time. So, the big question is: What do we do with the rest of the class during this time? How can the learning continue without direct teacher involvement? There is a plethora of answers to this question. Some teachers have children read to themselves during reading time. While this may work in classes of older children, first graders have neither the reading skills nor the attention span to read to themselves for that length of time. Other teachers have literacy stations offering several places in the room with different activities at each station. Children rotate through the stations, transitioning when cued to new ones throughout the reading block. These stations require large amounts of teacher preparation and transition times can be difficult, especially for children with behavioral difficulties. Still other teachers use worksheets for the students who are waiting for their reading group turns. In my first grade class, I have tried all three of these methods. We continue to struggle with our reading block. Children are very dependent on me. When their worksheets are done,

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE they need to be redirected. Literacy stations require hours of preparation and explanation. We lose instructional time at each transition. Many children are off-task and my reading groups are interrupted very frequently. Much of my time is spent redirecting children rather than listening and coaching readers. No one is learning much as I feel they could be. It is one of my biggest teaching challenges. I want children to be on-task, to be learning, and to be happy during our reading block. Literature Review Through collaboration with fellow teachers, I heard about a book called The Daily Five

by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (2006). In this book, the authors describe a program of literacy instruction designed to teach the children independent learning. The authors outline five key skills: Reading to self, reading to someone, listening to reading, working on writing, and spelling/word work (p. 20). The authors break down each skill into incremental mini-lessons that teachers teach from the beginning of the year. The program is designed to take around six weeks to implement. Once implementation is complete, students can work independently on meaningful literacy activities while the teacher is involved with small groups or individual learning. In another article on The Daily Five (2006), JoAnne Cilia-Duncan describes the five tasks outlined by Boushey and Moser as having a positive impact on students reading and writing achievement. She relates these in their student friendly terms: 1. Read to Yourself. The best way to become a better reader is to practice each day, with books you choose, on your just-right reading level. It soon becomes a habit.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE 2. Read to Someone. Reading to someone allows for more time to practice

strategies, helping you work on fluency and expression, check for understanding, hear your own voice, and share in the learning community. 3. Work on Writing. Just like reading, the best way to become a better writer is to practice writing each day. 4. Listen to Reading. We hear examples of good literature and fluent reading. We learn more words, thus expanding our vocabulary and becoming better readers. 5. Spelling and Word Work. Correct spelling allows for more fluent writing, thus speeding up the ability to write and get thinking down on paper. This is an essential foundational skill for writers (2008, p.8). A similar program comes from Debbie Diller in her book, Literacy Work Stations (2003). Diller focuses on setting the stage for learning independence by creating centers that will be motivating and self explanatory so that students will remain independently engaged in learning. She lists many ideas for creating spaces that are both exciting and meaningful in terms of literacy learning. While the independent learning theme is the same as that of Boushey and Moser, Diller has less focus on direct instruction of skills that foster independence. Other literature available reviewed these programs or did studies on their efficacy. Carrie L. Kracl, from the University of Nebraska at Kearney did an interesting study: Managing Small Group Instruction Through the Implementation of Literacy Work Stations (2012). This study used interviews and observations of four first grade teachers using workstations. Kracl wanted to know the teacher perception of the efficacy. She concluded that although they were successful, that success was dependent on additional factors such as the number of children in groups and the number of outside interruptions.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Liana Heitin, in her work Creating a Menu for Reading Instruction (2012), reports on her interview with Boushey and Moser, the authors of The Daily Five (2006). She discusses their system and some of their work that has expanded on the original program. She outlines how the program is evolving. In the study, Improving Student Reading Levels Through Literacy Workstations and Guided Reading (Eng, 2012), the author groups the efficacy of workstations and guided

reading. She uses both elements and tests student progress. She concludes that, used in tandem, these programs have an overall positive impact on student learning. Roberta Linder, in her work A Difficult Choice: Which Model of Reading Instruction for My Students? presents an overview of reading programs and compares and contrasts their elements (2009). She analyzes the work of both Diller and Boushey and Moser along workshop models and guided reading models. She concludes with the admissions that there is no one right answer and that good teachers reflect on their practices and use what is best for their own students and situations. Work from Michael Opitz and Michael Ford (2002) offers similar reviews and comparisons of meaningful independent learning programs. Based on this literature review, I have concluded that The Daily Five (2006) seems to be a dominant program in the literature right now. I think that it will keep children engaged and learning during reading groups. My research will test The Daily Five (2006). I want to see if children will use this program and continue to make reading progress. I will explore the level of student engagement through observation, and I will interview the students to see if they are enjoying the system.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Methods Participants The participants for this study are 14 first grade students ages six and seven. The

students will be participating in The Daily Five (2006) program four days per week for one hour a day during reading/literacy time. As recommended by the authors of this work, the children have been systematically introduced to this program since school began six weeks prior to the onset of the research. The children have had daily direct instruction on each of the five elements of the program: Read to self, read to someone, word work, listen to reading, and work on writing (Boushey & Mosher, 2006). Five of the participants in this study have special needs. These students will participate in the study. They will be observed as part of the group and will participate in the interview process as far as they are able. Seven of the children will participate in the pre and post reading assessments. In order to accommodate the special needs of the children in the group others will have alternate assessments that will not be used for this study. Materials The participants will use regular reading curriculum, books and writing materials that are in the classroom. Students will be given timed reading assessments using regular classroom materials from the Treasures curriculum (Bear, 2007). They will also be given a teacher made survey to determine motivation and enjoyment of the program.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Procedure It is important to assess all three aspects of my research question: Will students make

adequate progress in reading? Will they be actively engaged in appropriate literacy experiences? Will the student enjoy the program and be motivated to participate? My research will be conducted as follows: 1. Fluency testing. Each participant will be given a pre and post reading assessment from the reading curriculum to determine continued progress in reading. 2. Interval time sampling. Timed observation will be used on a daily basis during reading groups. I will check student engagement at ten-minute intervals. I will consider students to be engaged if they are working on an appropriate literacy task independently. 3. Student interview. Students will document their own participation on a marker board in the classroom using tally marks. They will be given a verbal survey at the end of the three-week study to determine enjoyment. Results Pre and Post Testing for Reading Fluency Pre-tests were done prior to the beginning of the research study. Children were given reading samples from the assessment section of Treasures (Bear, 2007). Samples were chosen from the students level of current instruction. The results of the assessment represent words read correctly (WRC) during a one-minute probe. Post assessments were given at the conclusion of the designated research time. Table 1 compares assessment results:

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Table 1 Comparison of Pre and Post Assessments Student 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Pre-test WRC 28 33 22 25 25 26 21 Post-test WRC 46 35 32 47 39 44 30 Change +18 +2 +10 +22 +14 +18 +12

Average rate of growth in fluency during first grade with children whose overall reading level was in the 50th percentile is 1.9 per week as determined by Hasbrouck and Tindal in their work, Oral reading fluency: 90 years of measurement (2006). According to that data, students are expected to gain 1.9 WRC per week or 5.7 total. The students in this group averaged a gain of 4.6 words read correctly per week or 13.7 total. Reading fluency growth rates in this group exceeded the norm for their age group. Observation The momentary interval time sampling for time on-task data showed the number of children engaged in The Daily Five (2006) activities at ten-minute intervals over an hour for each of the days of observation. A percentage was taken of each interval and then averaged for each observation session. There were six observation sessions. Then the overall percentage of all observations was averaged to give cumulative data for the research study time. The total percentage of time-on-task was equal to 89.15%. Daily observation rates are represented in Figure 1. The overall rate of on-task behavior was then compared to a norm for independent ontask behavior. The comparison norm was formulated in a study entitled California Beginning

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Teacher Evaluation Study (BTES) (, 2013). The average time-on-task during independent work noted by this study was 70 percent. Children involved in The Daily Five (2006) program were observed to be on-task more than 89 percent of the time, a significant


improvement over the norm. The seventh column in Figure 1 represents the BTES time-on-task average for students at independent work.

100 Average of Interval Scroes 80 60 40 20 0








4 Observations


Figure 1. Interval observation of student time-on-task during The Daily Five (2006).

Interviews Overall, the statements made during the interviews demonstrate that the children enjoy using The Daily Five (2006) program and feel motivated by it: Its cool and its fun and you get to do a lot of stuff. Its fun because you get to read and learn. I like to read by myself so that I can learn more books so that I can learn to read good.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Statements also demonstrated enjoyment when the children were asked to describe their favorite part of The Daily Five (2006): You get to read to yourself and have some quiet time. I love word work. I love to make rainbow words. I love journals because I can draw whatever I want.


They show that children enjoyed being able to choose one of the five activities, their own timing, and their own materials: I like to read dinosaur books. I like to learn about dinosaurs. I like to write. I write stories about going to the zoo, going to Anchorage, going to Hawaii, and going to North Carolina. I like to work on writing. I love to write and do pictures.

Other comments demonstrated a sense of collegiality among the students: I like read to someone because you get to read to them and they like it. I like to read to other people because it helps them learn stuff. Helping people (write) makes me a better writer.

Students demonstrated their overall enjoyment of the program with their responses to the question, If you were to change The Daily Five (2006), what would you do differently? We should squeeze in more word work. I would (want to) work on my journal more because I get to write fun stuff and creepy stuff and scary stuff. It would be better if you gave us more time to do it.

One interview demonstrated frustration with the independent aspect of The Daily Five (2006):

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE It can be hard because sometimes there are so much words and pictures and you dont know what it says. Finally, the statements made during interviews demonstrated that the children believe they are learning and growing: We get better at reading when we practice over and over. Memorize it in your head. You can concentrate while you are writing. You can practice by getting a paper and writing on the paper. We can get better at reading by sounding out the words. You can look at the pictures and the words and try. And you can get really better at it and that is really good. And then you can just go BOOM! Analysis Using triangulation, I will use a content analysis to illustrate themes across the three research tools used in this project: Pre and post reading fluency assessments, interval time sampling observation, and student interviews. Pre and Post Assessments


The pre and post-tests show that children increase the words they can read by using The Daily Five (2006) in conjunction with small group instruction. The data shows that all the children involved in the project show an increase in reading fluency during the three-week data collection period. The fluency scores of the children in our project exceed the fluency scores of a nationally normed group of children over the same amount of time. Although The Daily Five (2006) is only part of the reading program used in class, fluency scores show that it can be a part of an effective reading instruction program. The assumption would be that the practice involved in read to self and read to someone is effective in improving fluency. It can also be inferred

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE that the management aspect of The Daily Five (2006) allows for learning during reading


instruction, even during the independent time. Children get the learning and practice they need in order to increase reading fluency. Interval Time Sampling Observation The second tool of this project is an interval time sampling observation. Results show that the students in our study achieve an on-task score of 88%, in comparison to 70% norm (, 2013). The bottom line conclusion is that children using The Daily Five (2006) are more likely to stay on-task than students in other similar settings independent literacy settings. This score is another piece of evidence showing that The Daily Five (2006) is an effective method of keeping children on-task during independent reading and writing practice. Since these are independent learning activities, high on-task behavior scores suggest that these activities are also motivating and fun for the children. An incidental theme that emerges through the observations is the amount of times the children are interrupted by adults during their reading time. Although there is no hard data recording these interruptions, it is noted by this observer that multiple interruptions occur during each observation session. The interruptions make the on-task behavior even more impressive. Student Interviews The student interview results show that children also believe that The Daily Five (2006) is effective. They believe that they are concentrating, learning, and becoming good readers. Students also love the ability to choose what they will do. Many students expressed their joy at being able to choose their own activities. This seems especially important to children with specific topics they like to learn about or specific writing projects they are working on. Choice is an important part of the motivation that this program generates.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE There was a negative theme expressed by two of the children. One negative comment expressed frustration at not being able to get help when they thought they needed it. Another child commented that she wished she could hear more of the teacher reading. Both of these comments indicate that working independently has its limitations. These limitations should be kept in mind when planning the amount and the material offered to children during The Daily Five (2006).


Their answers also show that most of them think The Daily Five (2006) is fun. The most common answer to the question What would you do differently? was to have more time spent on the activities. The answers indicate that they are happy with the program and believe that they are becoming better readers and writers. The overall attitude of the students interviewed was one of excitement and enthusiasm. This motivation is perhaps the most powerful positive aspect of the program. Synthesis Three overall themes emerge from this data. First, The Daily Five (2006) appears to be an effective program in terms of learning, at least in terms of reading fluency. Secondly, the program is effective in keeping children on-task during a time when the teacher needs to be able to work with small groups or individual children. Lastly, The Daily Five (2006) appears to be motivating. By in large, children are happy and engaged and excited about their ability to make decisions about their own learning. Discussion Is The Daily Five (2006) the answer to my problem? Does it allow me, as a teacher, to be working with small groups while the rest of the class is actively engaged in meaningful selfdirected learning? Based on my research, I think the answer is yes, a qualified yes.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE First, The Daily Five (2006) does keep the children busy; however, in order for


meaningful learning to occur, it must be taught in the explicit steps outlined by the authors prior to the use of the program. My research does not address the effectiveness of the program with children who have not been trained to use it. My assumption is that it would be unsuccessful, frustrating, and ineffective as a learning tool without that training. Ample planning and time must be dedicated to teaching the system before it can be used. It is not an immediate solution, but a long term one. Secondly, it must be remembered that The Daily Five (2006) is a management system and not by itself, a direct instructional tool. It would not be appropriate to use the program as the main means of literacy instruction. It is wonderful for meaningful practice both in reading and in writing, but it is not the platform for introducing new material or teaching new skills. Direct instruction must be incorporated through other means in tandem with The Daily Five (2006), such as mini-lessons, regular lessons, small group instruction, or individualized instruction. It was not the intent of the authors of the program to be used as the only means of literacy instruction. It should not replace direct teacher involvement with each student. With those qualifications, I believe that The Daily Five (2006) is the answer to my classroom management during reading problem. The children love the independence and the choice the program offers. They enthusiastically look forward to literacy time and get upset if the time is cut short. They are on their way to having the fastest reading fluency acquisition of any class I have yet taught. I am able to focus on the needs of my individual reading groups with far less interruption than I have in the past. The children are happy and excited about reading and writing and that is always one of the priorities of teaching. Conclusion



Some interesting questions came up while doing this project. As mentioned earlier in this paper, I noticed the dramatic number of interruptions and distractions caused by adults. Parents came and went. Administrators, therapists, other teachers, paraprofessionals and others caused distraction during every observed session. It was amazing to me that the children could do so well with all the grownups breaking their concentration. It would be interesting to do a research project on this problem. I believe that clear documentation of this problem would provide convincing evidence of a need to change. Such a change could be easily done and could have positive impact on student learning. There are many other aspects of The Daily Five (2006) that can be tested. If time allowed, it would be interesting to compare student scores with a control group of first graders. My mental comparison is made with memories of my past classes with chaotic reading times. It would be nice to have data that proves its effectiveness in comparison to other programs, or to classes operating with no definitive management program. In conclusion, I am convinced that The Daily Five (2006) is a valuable part of the management of our classroom. I plan to continue using it. I would like to improve some of our skills at using the program. My class and I are still learning as we go. The authors of The Daily Five (2006) have some other ideas for teaching reading that will be meaningful to investigate. My colleagues in first grade are planning to implement the program next semester. They have been excited about the changes they have seen and are themselves struggling daily with management during reading groups in their classes. It has been exciting to find a solution to a significant problem in first grade.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE References Bear, D. R. (2007). Treasures: A reading /language arts program. New York: Macmillan McGraw-Hill.


Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2006). The daily 5: Fostering literacy independence in the elementary grades. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse. Cilia-Duncan, J. (2008, June 20). Collaborative Action Research: The Daily Five [Scholarly project]. In Retrieved September, 2013, from Diller, D. (2003). Literacy work stations: Making centers work. Portland,, ME: Stenhouse. Eng, C. (2012). Improving student reading levels through literacy workstations and guided reading [Scholarly project]. Retrieved September 23, 2013. Ford, M. P., & Opitz, M. F. (2002). Using centers to engage children during guided reading time: Intensifying learning experiences away from the teacher. The Reading Teacher, 55(8), 710-717. Retrieved September 29, 2013. Hasbrouck, J. J., & Tindal, G. G. (2006). Oral reading fluency: 90 years of measurement. The Reading Teacher, 59(7), 636-644. Retrieved October, 2013, from Heitin, L. (2012). Creating a menu for reading instruction. Education Week: PD Sourcebook, 16. Retrieved September 20, 2013. Kracl, C. L. (2012). Managing small group instruction through the implementation of literacy work stations. International Journal of Psychology: A Biopsychosocial Approach, 10, 2746. Retrieved September 20, 2013. Linder, R. (2009). A difficult choice: Which model of reading instruction for my students.

EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Illinois Reading Council Journal, 37(3), 8-20. Time-on-task: A strategy that accelerates learning. (n.d.). FEAweb. Retrieved October, 2013, from


EXPLORING THE DAILY FIVE Appendix The Daily Five Survey (Teacher will read survey to students and record answers)


Student Name: Date:

Questions: 1) Tell me what you think about reading time.

2) Which part of The Daily Five is your favorite? Why?

3) If you could do something different during reading time, what would it be?

4) How do we become better readers?

5) How do we become better writers?