The Daily Five Jennifer Brown EDCI 816 Fall 2016

a Personal 'teacher/mom' Story...

My daughter, now eleven, has always been and continues to be an avid reader. When she was a first grader, she was placed in an advanced second grade reading group. (The school used Success For All (SFA) Reading Wings and ability grouped across first and second grade.) At the time, the school used the Scholastic Reading Inventory (SRI) to assess reading progress. From the beginning of first grade to the end, her score improved by 100 points. Not entirely ideal, but I was never a teacher to put my stock in one assessment, so I chose to focus on the fact that she was still succeeding.

The following year, her school decided to stop leveling students. It would continue using the SRI, but a more holistic approach, left up to individual teachers, would drive reading instruction. From the very beginning, I knew something was different. She was reading all the time; her interest in books was renewed. Her first quarter SRI shot up more than 100 points to a 650. It climbed as the year continued. By the end of her second grade year, her score had reached 1060. Test data wasn't the only data. In addition to this, our conversations about what she was reading deepened. The improvement in her comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary was obvious in our daily conversations. The difference? The teacher's selection reading framework was The Daily Five.


The 2 Sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser

The Daily Five is a framework for literacy instruction developed by sisters, Gail Bushy and Joan Moser. It targets Kindergarten through sixth grade. In a nutshell, students rotate by choice through the following tasks or "rounds": Read to Self, Word Work, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, or Listen to Reading. While students are engaged in their choices, the teacher works with small groups, assesses, to confers as needed. Between each round, the teacher teaches a mini-lesson. This could focus on comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, writing, reading response, word study, or anything that supports the literacy learning of students.

For last six years in my K-2 classroom, literacy instruction was characterized by a scripted curriculum required by my district called Success for All (SFA). Assessors from the program's company visited my classroom at least twice a year to be sure I was implementing the program with fidelity. Now, not all of this was bad, but not all of it was great either. I believe very firmly in a balanced literacy approach and had to supplement this curriculum in quiet and subversive ways! So, based on my previous experiences, I wanted to explore an organization for literacy instruction that addressed two areas I feel are important, but were absent from the SFA program: independence, academic choice and numerous opportunities for extended periods of reading.

ARTIFACT #1 - The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades (Boushey & Moser, 2014). This text serves as the primary resource for implementing this reading framework. It details each "round" of the Daily Five with instruction on what you need, how to begin, and what to expect from students. The appendix includes a concise guide for each round, a parent letter, and even suggestions for substitute teacher plans. It is an essential guide book for the Daily Five journey.

ARTIFACT #2 - The Daily CAFE ( Website: https://www.thedailycafe.com) If the book is the heart of The Daily Five, the website is the brain and command center. The site is set up for members, and there is a required fee which runs $39 for three months or $69 for a year. There are also special price plans for school purchasing for a greater number of teachers. Even so, there are still free accessible resources for those considering it or who are curious. There are numerous articles focusing on the each round, foundation lessons, behaviors, and students growth. Within the site, there is also a conferring site called CCPenseive (http://www.ccpensieve.com/login.php) that allows teachers to keep track of any kind of data, maintain logs of students conferences, and plan differentiation. There is also The Daily CAFE Forum (http://thedailycafeforum.com) which is a discussion board for those using Daily Five. Its topics range from specifically related to the Daily Five to general education topics.

The Key Components

The Daily Five has five important components referred to as 'rounds:' Read to Self, Word Work, Work on Writing, Read with a Partner, and Listen to Reading. The overall goal is to get students engaged in the reading process.

ARTIFACT #3 - Seven Rules of Engagement: What’s Most Important to Know about Motivation to Read (Gambrell, 2011). Gambrels's (2011) list of students engagement principles are key to understanding the ideas behind student choice and the setup for They Daily Five. They include relevant reading tasks, wide selection of reading materials, numerous changes for prolonged periods of reading, choice in text and task, social interaction, experience success with difficult books, and classroom "incentives reflect the value and importantce of reading" ( Gambrell, 2011, p. 176). In addition to her seven principles, she offers tips for classroom application, as well.


When students choose READ TO SELF, they read a book of their own choosing that is at their independent reading level. Several behaviors are taught and practiced during this task, including reading stamina and how to choose a 'just right book.' Students have the opportunity to apply comprehension strategies with the goal of becoming a better reader.

ARTIFACT #4 - Making Data-Driven Decisions: Silent Reading (Trudel, 2007). Trudel is a teacher-researcher who began to question if silent reading was really do her students any good. She began to examine the research that was already out in the world. Based on her discoveries, she implemented a program i her room which she found to greatly increase her students' participation and connections. This article supports the idea of Read to Self, but also points out teacher behaviors that should be avoided. It provides direction for a more successful implementation or the Red-to-Self component.

word work

During WORD WORK, students "focus on spelling and vocabulary work with children, creating a richly literate environment that provides essential and often-skipped practice time" (Boushey & Moser, 2014, p. 117). Students choose from a variety of activities by which they practice words and skills based on mini-lessons and explicit vocabulary instruction provided by the teacher. The index of instructional activities in the Daily Five (Boushey & Moser, 2014) offers a wide variety for students to choose from during the Word Work portion.

ARTIFACT #5 - Bringing Words to Life : Robust Vocabulary Instruction (Beck, McKeown & Kucan, 2013). When participating in the Daily Five, students encounter many words, but this is not enough. Teachers provide clarification strategies during mini lessons, but this book suggests and gives guidance for explicit strategy instruction with criteria for selecting words for explicit instruction.

work on writing

The main purpose of WORK ON WRITING is for students to have daily writing practice. However, this is not to be confused with a Writer's Workshop set-up. While teachers can offer mini-lesson geared toward this round, they should be from a reading perspective, based on reading standards. This might include response to literature, journaling, response to a prompt, or even creation fan fiction. Regardless, the students still have the opportunity to choose and apply the strategies offered during mini lessons.

ARTIFACT #6 - Writing Instruction in Elementary Classrooms: Making the Connection to Common Core State Standards (Richards, Strum, & Cali, 2012). This fascinating article looked at common instructional practices in writing across grade levels, specifically those that succeed with students with disabilities. They found that a wide variety of strategies were being taught to students and care attention must be paid to each students' previous writing experiences. The Work on Writing component of the Daily Five offers teacher the very opportunity they need to address students' needs individually.

ARTIFACT #7 Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools (Graham & Perin, 2007). This highlights eleven research-based writing practices that are most effective in secondary classrooms. While the Daily Five doesn't focus on this group of constituents, I would be remiss to exclude the piece based on grade-level alone. It is important for teachers to know where their students are headed and the suggestions so happen to include many that are familiar in elementary classrooms - summarization, process writing, collaborative writing, prewriting, and writing strategies - just to name a few.

Read to someone

READ TO SOMEONE provides the opportunity for students to work on fluency, comprehension, and social skills. Students typically love reading with a friend and talking about a common story. Read to Someone also provides an interesting opportunity to build leadership and coaching skills in peers. Offering suggestions of reading strategies, encouraging words, and the like, become intricate part of Read to Someone in addition to practicing reading aloud.

ARTIFACT #8 - "I Don't Know What I'm Doing - They All Start with B": First Graders Negotiate Peer Reading Interactions (MacGillivray & Hawes, 1994). Very few teachers will argue that opportunities to read increase reading ability, but not as many support partner reading. However, this article identifies several benefits of partner reading highlighting that readers benefit from peer interactions about a text, they read for longer periods of time, they help each other decode, and non-readers are more motivated to pick up a book and participate. A round of Read to Someone offers students an opportunity to reap each of those benefits.

listen to reading

LiISTEN TO READING is a great time for students to listen to stories in which they are interested while hearing fluent and expressive models, exposing them to new vocabulary and proper pronunciation. It offers the chance to integrate a variety of technology, from computers, books on tape, audio books on digital readers, or CD players. Students can listen only, or listen while they read along silently, or read out load with the narrator.

ARTIFACT #9 - Comparing the Efficiency of Repeated Reading and Listening-While-Reading to Improve Fluency and Comprehension. (Hawkins et al., 2015). Not only does this article highlight the general benefits of listening to reading, its data suggests that listening while reading can actually improved fluency as repeated readings do. The same positive results were found when examining comprehension, too.

A day in the life of a Daily Five classroom: boxes filled just-right books and journals, hundreds of books to chose from, partner reading, and a combination of word work and working on writing.*
Posters retrieved from: http://mrsbremersk.blogspot.com/2014/07/free-daily-5-posters.html

Theoretical foundation

The foundation of the Daily Five is based on the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model of instruction (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983). This model of learning is influenced by several different theorists including Lev Vygotsky's (1978) idea of Zone of Proximal Development and instructional scaffolding, Piaget's schemata (1999), and Bandura's Social Learning Theory (1977).

Fisher and Frey (2010) explain that “as part of the gradual release of responsibility framework, the teacher scaffolds learning to facilitate student understanding” (p. 84). This involves four activities: demonstration, shared demonstration, guided practice, and independent practice (Fisher & Frey, 2008). A Teacher carefully models and explicitly teaches several foundation lessons for each round of the Daily Five.

ARTIFACT #10 - Better Learning Through Structured Teaching: A Framework for the Gradual Release of Responsibility (Fisher & Frey, 2008). This book is a critical resource for implementing the Daily Five and understanding the facets of the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. Fisher & Frey (2008) detail the model and explain the significance of each step. Most teachers will acknowledge that they've heard of this instructional method, citing the "I do, we do, you do" mantra so commonly associated with the model. However, this does a giant disservice to the students and teacher expectations. This model can take anywhere from a few minutes to implement to an entire school year. Neither does it only represent teacher modeling, then independent work. The collaboration amongst peers is often over looked and can frequently provide the most powerful and motivating scenario (Fisher & Frey, 2008).

ARTIFACT #11 - Learning Through Academic Choice (Denton, 2005). This book serves an an excellent guide to introducing and improving a teacher's ability to plan, implement, work, and reflect upon students exercising their right to have a significant voice in their learning. The book provides guidance for teachers in all stages of the process including modeling and high quality examples. The text encompasses subjects outside of reading, but the general suggestions and examples offer advice that can assist a teacher who is reluctant to hand over control to his or her students.

This model for proportion of responsibility (Pearson & Gallagher, 1983, p. 51) serves an an exceptional visual representation the behaviors The Daily Five promotes. For each component of the framework, which is introduced one at a time, teachers begin by modeling, allowing the students guided practice with feedback, which eventually results in the students performing the tasks independently.

PLan for Implementation

Step 1 - Read The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Classroom. While there are many resources out in the digital world that could probably sustain you through the implementation of the Daily Five. I've yet to discover an explanation so clear and concise as that of the authors themselves.

Step 2 - Get your Classroom ready. In addition to having a group meeting space in your classroom, there are several materials that will set you up for Daily Five success. Chimes, or some other type of quiet signal is crucial to signify it's time to regroup or move on to another round. Chart paper and a rack, or lots of wall space which to display charts is import as well. Each student will need a box or some manner of container in which to keep all of his or her books, journals, and materials. A large number of books for students to choose from, in addition to the library is important, too.

Step 3 - Teach Specific Foundation lessons. This includes the different ways to read a book, how to pick a book that's just right, and how to select a spot to work in the classroom. An important facet of this process is helping students to build their reading and working stamina, which should be tracked by some sort of visual aid. Each component of the Daily Five has additional foundation lessons to teach before introducing a new one.

Step 4 - Get Out of the Way. Boushey & Moser (2014) remind teachers that it is a critical mistake to walk around the classroom and monitor behavior. If students are to build their stamina working independently, the constant presence of a roaming teacher prevents that. Find a spot where you will eventually be working with small groups and observe.

Step 5 - Proceed with your instruction, assessment, and reflection. Once foundation lessons are mastered, and students are familiar with the expectations, begin to implement your own lessons. The wonderful thing about the Daily Five is that you can use it with almost any literacy curriculum. Even a Basal series can fit into the framework!

While I have highlighted five major step to getting started with the Daily Five, Bushy & Moser (2014) provide a ten step process for implementing the Daily Five framework in the classroom (Figure 2). This ten step process is designed for use with the introduction of each component. The teacher explains and identifies the behaviors to be taught and why they are important. This instructional scaffolding

Figure 2: Reproduction of Boushey & Moser's (2014) chart detailing the ten steps required to adequately establish each component for the Daily Five.

In Closing...

Sometime after I selected this framework for my final project, one of my undergraduate students shared about the Daily Five her cooperating teacher implemented a kindergarten classroom. My student didn't see much engagement from students or teaching from the teacher. I had just started reading the Daily Five text itself, so I didn't know a lot, but I had read enough to guess that this teacher wasn't doing the framework justice. This conversation with my student reinforced three things:

  • Superficial learning is not learning at all. I could read the book, possibly as the cooperating teacher may have, but until I understood the theory and research behind it, I would do a disservice to my students, whether K-6 or college seniors. While I would love to implement this is an elementary classroom, I may never get the chance to do it. So I need to make sure I understand as much as I possibly can, so when my undergraduates ask about The Daily Five I can say, "I've never used it myself, but here's what I do know, and here's where you can find out more information on your own."
  • The Daily Five isn't the only option. My second feeling echoes the first. I feel more confident sharing about the Daily Five, but what about all the other approaches to reading instruction that are out there? I am looking forward to exploring other frameworks as I continue to teach literacy for elementary education majors. In fact, I've already planned the next two I'm going to explore in depth - Lucy Calkin's Readers' Workshop and Literature Circles.
  • Commit. This also made me think about the extent to which teachers go to make things work. While I am the first to admit when something isn't working, you shouldn't feel bad about abandoning ship. However, it's extremely important to constantly reflect and self-assess. At one point, I had to completely restructure my SFA literacy block because of group dynamics. I asked others to come observe me, provide feedback, and guidance about what I should do. Was it me? Was it the kids? This same type of commitment is required for implementing the Daily Five or any literacy approach.

I've enjoyed learning about the Daily Five approach during this project. It was a challenging choice because most of the research directly related to the framework was completed by the authors themselves. Many of the artifacts were from sources of a debatable nature. This is why I felt it necessary to keep my annotated artifacts limited to books and refereed journal articles. The other resources are quite useful, but not nearly as credible.

It is important to note here that the authors promote teaching differentiated mini-lessons based on their CAFE model (Boushey & Moser, 2011). CAFE is an acronym for four major contributors to literacy success: C-comprehension, A-accuracy, F-fluency, and E-expanding vocabulary.

Boushey & Moser's (2014) interactive CAFE menu for strategy instruction. Retrieved from https://www.thedailycafe.com/cafe/interactive-cafe-menu


Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Beck, I., McKeown, M., & Kucan, L. (2013). Bringing words to life : Robust vocabulary instruction (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Boushey, G. & Moser, J. (2011). The CAFE book: Engaging all students in daily literacy assessment & instruction. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Boushey, G. & Moser, J. (2014). The daily 5: Fostering literacy independence in the elementary grades. (2nd ed.). Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Denton, P. (2005). Learning through academic choice. Turners Fall, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2008). Better learning through structured teaching: A framework for the gradual release of responsibility. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2010). Identifying instructional moves during guided learning. The Reading Teacher, 64(2), 84–95.

Gambrell, L. B. (2011). Seven rules of engagement: What’s most important to know about motivation to read. The Reading Teacher, 65(3), 172–178. Retrieved from http://www.readinghalloffame.org/sites/default/files/final_pdf_of_ms_10.1002_trtr.01024.pdf

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools – A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Hawkins, R. O., Marsicano, R., Schmitt, A. J., McCallum, E., & Musti-Rao, S. (2015). Comparing the efficiency of repeated reading and listening-while-reading to improve fluency and comprehension. Education & Treatment of Children, 38(1), 49-70.

MacGillivray, L. & Hawes, S. (1994). "I don't know what I'm doing - they all start with B": First graders negotiate peer reading interactions. The Reading Teacher, 48(3), 210.

Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children. New York: Norton.

Pearson, P.D. & Gallagher, M. (1983). The instruction of reading comprehension. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 8(3), 317-344. Retrieved from https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/17939/ctrstreadtechrepv01983i00297_opt.pdf?s

Richards, S., Sturm, J., & Cali, K. (2012). Writing instruction in elementary classrooms: Making the connection to Common Core State Standards. Seminars in Speech and Language, 33(2), 130-45.

Trudel, H. (2007). Making data-driven decisions: Silent reading. The Reading Teacher, 61(4), 308-315. doi:10.1598/RT.61.4.3

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Thought and language. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.

*Uncredited photos were taken by me in a teacher's classroom who wished to remain anonymous.

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