Daily 5 in Upper Elementary and Middle School

Using Daily 5 in upper elementary and middle school with Read to Self, Word Work, and Work on Writing.
Hi, from Meghan at Vestal's 21st Century Classroom! About five years ago, I was working for a district that required teachers to use Daily 5 for language arts. Initially, I struggled to make Daily 5 work for me. As a 4th grade teacher, I felt like some of the stations and activities were too easy for my students and not beneficial to them. Then, I had the opportunity to attend a Daily 5 conference with the authors of Daily 5, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. At the conference, I learned several strategies for implementing Daily 5 in any classroom and have since found great success using Daily 5 with my upper elementary students. Today, I would like to share some of the strategies and resources I have developed to effectively implement Daily 5 in upper elementary or middle school classrooms.

Using Daily 5 in upper elementary and middle school with Read to Self, Word Work, and Work on Writing.
Often, when a new curriculum or resource is rolled out in education there is a set way to implement it and little room to deviate. One of the first things I learned at the Daily 5 conference is there is no set way to implement Daily 5. The authors of Daily 5, also known as "the sisters," are teachers too. They understand that a model may not work the same way for every classroom. Daily 5 allows teachers to take their ideas and adapt them to meet the needs of individual students.

One of the biggest ways I have adapted Daily 5 for my classroom is by changing it to the Daily 3. "Read to Someone" and "Listen to Reading" were created with the intention of helping students develop their fluency, a skill many of my 4th and 5th grade students have already mastered. I prefer my older students to spend time on activities that build their comprehension and writing skills. So, in my classroom we only use the rotations "Read to Self," "Word Work," and "Work on Writing." By cutting it down to only three rotations each day, it gives my students more time to focus on the skills most important to their age and development. I explain more about how I implement these three rotations in my Daily 5 resource.
Using Daily 5 in upper elementary and middle school with Read to Self, Word Work, and Work on Writing.
I have been asked to help other teachers start Daily 5 in their classrooms. One of the biggest mistakes I see Daily 5 newbies make is trying to roll out all of their stations and activities at one time. Daily 5 enables students to have a lot of freedom. If we do not spend time making sure they know how everything operates and what is expected, it will quickly turn to chaos.
The Daily 5 book does a great job of explaining how to train your students. In chapter 2, entitled "From Management to Principled Habits," the sisters explain the process of slowly introducing new stations and activities, modeling what everything should look like, and giving students time to practice. Teachers are given so much to do and teach, it can be difficult to move slow and give students time to practice basic skills such as quietly reading a book to themselves. But, spending a few weeks at the beginning of the school year to practice each station and activity is vital to the success of Daily 5.

At the beginning of the school year, I introduce each of my three Daily 5 stations: "Read to Self," "Word Work," and "Work on Writing." It usually takes about two weeks of practicing each station. Then, for stations that have activities to choose from, such as Word Work, I only give students two activities to choose from at the start of the year. Once I feel they have mastered those activities, I add a third activity. I continue this process throughout the year until the Word Work station has all 20 activities that I use. These activities can be found in the link to my Word Work & Work on Writing for Upper Elementary & Middle School Bundle.
Using Daily 5 in upper elementary and middle school with Read to Self, Word Work, and Work on Writing.
One of reasons students tend to enjoy Daily 5 is that they are given so much freedom. They love being able to decide what book they will read, what activities they will complete, and being able to determine what skill they need to work on. But, I think it is important for there to be some degree of organization so that students can be held accountable.

A system I have developed for managing my classroom and still giving students the freedom they desire involves having students create their schedule for the day as soon as they come into my classroom. Each student has three name cards that I attach to the board with magnets. Each card has their name and the number 1, 2, or 3.

Next to the magnets, the board is divided into three sections using colorful tape: "Read to Self," "Work on Writing," and "Word Work." When students enter the room they know to immediately move their name tags to each of the station columns. Each student should have one name tag in each column and the numbers on their name tags correspond with the order they will complete their rotations that day. This gives the students some accountability and allows me to quickly know what each student is working on. It also makes taking attendance easy.

Using Daily 5 in upper elementary and middle school with Read to Self, Word Work, and Work on Writing.
In this example, Jenna will do Read to Self first. During the second rotation she will do Working on Writing. Finally, she will do Word Work.
Using Daily 5 in upper elementary and middle school with Read to Self, Word Work, and Work on Writing.
A huge mistake teachers make when using Daily 5 is giving the same station activities to primary, upper elementary, and middle school students. All students cannot have the same Word Work and Work on Writing activities because primary, upper elementary, and middle school students are all learning different skills. When developing activities for upper elementary and middle school, it is important to develop activities that provide a challenge. If the activities are too simple or primary, older students will not learn and you will begin seeing behavior issues arise. I have complied all of my Word Work and Work on Writing activities, posters, and suggestions for set up in the following bundle.
When I was first introduced to Daily 5, I thought it was best suited for primary grades. But, I have learned that Daily 5 can be tremendously fun and successful for upper elementary and middle school students as well. If you are not already using Daily 5 in your upper elementary or middle school classroom, I highly recommend you give it a try this year! And, if you are looking for even more tips and strategies for using Daily 5 in upper elementary, make sure to check out my other blog post Daily 5 Activities for Upper Elementary. This article shares more strategies for getting started and lists specific activities you can use at each station.

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Find some great tips, strategies, and resources for implementing Daily 5 into an upper elementary or middle school classroom!

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