Now that I may have peaked your interest, let me explain. Don’t get me wrong. I think what The Sisters have done with The Daily Five and the CAFE approach to reading and writing has been phenomenal. Their research and approach to reading and writing really changed the way I approached guided reading and center time. My students were more engaged and it even meant less prep time for me. I embraced the approach whole-heartedly. I made the CAFE board, trained my kids how to work through all the components, have a well stocked classroom library, and book boxes for each student with their individually chosen books. I was in reading heaven.
So why the break up? I am about to loop to fifth grade with my class. It will be a year of change in that I am moving up a grade level, but constant in that I already know the personalities, strengths, and areas of needs of my students. So, this is the year to try something new. It’s time to get messy and maybe even make a few mistakes. I want to rethink how my students use their time when they are not with me in small groups. As far as I know, we will still be doing small group reading in fifth grade and I’m ok with that. I approach it a little differently than many, but that’s ok, too. I’ve purchased some great resources from Jennifer Findley of Teaching to Inspire in Fifth in which I use shorter texts to teach Common Core Standards through Close Reading. I feel that in this way, my students are not managing multiple novels during the day and can focus on new material in a manageable way. As our students gain more of a background with the Common Core I may not always need to approach it in this way, but for now, it is working.
Another reason for the breakup is the book bin itself. This year they became a catch-all for everything and were holding far more than the three books I required. Originally, I loved the idea that my students would not be getting up during Read to Self time and focused on reading. Then, I read this blog on Scholastic by Genia Connell on how she is rethinking her book boxes. I like the idea of letting them decorate the name tag for their box, and including books that are microreads, short reads, and independent reads in the book box. Please click on my link to her blog for a full explanation of these categories and a great chart she made to explain them. I truly believe my students will welcome the change in our book bins for next year.
One final reason for the break up is that I want my students to have that time to work on their book report projects (not a boring report, but something with a product, technology component, or whatever their creative genius can come up with), work on their Genius Hour projects, create writing partnerships, and more. I just want to make this time meaningful to intermediate students. And, as much as I still love the Daily Five, it’s time to explore new avenues.
So maybe breaking up is a bit dramatic. To paraphrase what Ross said to Rachael on Friends, we’re on a break.