In a previous blog post I wrote about The Daily Five and the ways in which its implementation can be enhanced through the use of technology. In this post, I would like to briefly touch upon other “teacher books” that can be used along with The Daily Five.
First, I think it is important to differentiate between a book study and a district initiative. Currently, our district initiative is balanced literacy, and we are studying The Daily 5 in order to help bring well-rounded literacy instruction to our classrooms. In other words, the teacher language should be, “How can I use The Daily Five and other resources in order to promote balanced literacy?” Misguided conversation would sound more like, “I am trying to figure out how to make The Daily Five work in my classroom.” The Daily Five is one of countless resources that can be used in order to promote balanced literacy. Take what works for you and your students and move on (possibly to other resources and ideas). Do not try to force a square peg into a round hole. With that being said, here are some books that are worth a look.
- The CAFÉ Book, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser: Written by the same authors as The Daily Five, the two books go hand-in-hand, and they should probably be read one after the other. The CAFÉ system is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand vocabulary. While the Daily Five is a series of independent tasks completed by students, CAFÉ describes the manner in which students are assessed. This includes “goal-setting with students, posting of goals on a whole-class board, developing small-group instruction based on clusters of students with similar goals, and focusing whole-class instruction on emerging student needs.” In general, I find both of these books to be geared more towards the primary level, which is one of the main reasons why it is important to incorporate other resources and ideas, especially if you are teaching intermediate students.
- Strategies That Work, by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis: In my opinion, this is the definitive book for teaching explicit reading comprehension strategies in the classroom. These strategies include: monitoring comprehension, activating and connecting to background knowledge, questioning, visualizing and inferring, determining importance in text, and summarizing and synthesizing information. For each strategy, the authors have included several lessons, so teachers are not left wondering how the strategies should be taught. It is my belief that all elementary students should be consistently taught these strategies. This instruction should start in second grade, and possibly towards the end of first grade. Throughout the book, the authors also discuss options for explicit instruction (thinking aloud, interactive reading aloud, lifting text, etc.), the integration of content areas with literacy instruction, and the steps for gradual release of responsibility.
- Mosaic of Thought, by Ellin Oliver Keene and Susan Zimmermann: This book is very much like Strategies That Work, in that the majority of the reading focuses on explicit reading comprehension strategies. More or less, the strategies from these two books are the same, with the language varying slightly. Where this book differs is that it has a heavier focus on metacognition and the inner conversation that takes place during reading. The authors constantly reinforce the fact that this inner conversation allows for students to monitor for meaning (and find deeper meaning) in what they are reading. In my classroom I have adopted this approach by having my students periodically pause to describe their thoughts while they are reading aloud.
- Guiding Readers and Writers, by Irene Fountas and Gay Pinnell: No conversation about balanced literacy would be complete without Fountas and Pinnell. This is not the famous “white guided reading book”, but rather a similar book that is more for the intermediate grades. (However, the content easily applies to all levels.) This 510 page monster is a lot to consume, but teachers can pick and choose to read certain sections without feeling the urgent need to read everything else. This book describes a system that was created by the authors, so use what works for you (and there is a lot that most likely will work). Either way, almost all effective literacy instruction starts with the research of Fountas and Pinnell. This book’s 60 pages on guided reading should be required reading for all teachers.
Finally, I have not read the following books, but I can recommend them based on reputation and reviews.
- The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller: Written by a sixth grade Language Arts teacher, “Donalyn reflects on her journey to become a reader and shares how she inspires and motivates her students to read 40 or more books a year.”
- Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor: This book is “a guide to developing children's ability to fully understand texts by making the comprehension process achievable, accessible, and incremental. McGregor's approach sequences stages of learning for each strategy that take students from a fun object lesson to a nuanced and lasting understanding.”
- Anything by Debbie Diller: A good amount of her writing focuses on making centers work in the classroom, which nicely compliments The Daily 5.
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