Top 5 Takeaways from The Daily 5: Second Edition

I recently read the new edition of The Daily 5 and discussed it with teachers at my school.  Even if you're not a Daily 5 kind of gal (or guy), there are some really great points in this book for your big picture teaching.

#4 is my favorite! My top 5 takeaways from The Daily 5.  It's more than just rotations.  This book is worth reading to understand the why and not just the what.

I read the first book about 10 years ago.  Does anybody remember  Before there were blogs, was about all we had.  One summer, everyone was talking about this new book-The Daily 5.  I read it and immediately fell in love.

I nervously read the new version.  I was glad to see there weren’t any HUGE differences between the first and second book.  Having said that, I am very glad I read it because there were a few things that rocked my world a little bit.

I thought I’d share some bits that were powerful to my thinking as a reading teacher.  Even if you’re not ready to fully dive into The Daily 5, these are ideas that can challenge the way we think about our instructional time.

This is hands down probably the #1 reason the Daily 5 works so well.  Once kids are part of the process,  they feel like they have some involvement with the learning instead of just being told all of the time what to do.

Time to be honest-As a teacher, how much do you hate being given a schedule that tells you what time you HAVE to teach math, reading groups, social studies, etc.  Does it really matter if you do science then social studies?  Nope.

The same is true for our students.  Does it matter if they do word work before or after independent reading?  Nope.  It might be easier to manage it for them, but it's worth the effort to get your kids on board with their learning.  Kids on board=maximizing instruction.

I'm just going to stop for a moment and let that sink in.

To be honest, when I read the first book about ten years ago, I completely blew off the idea of mini lessons between rotations.  It seemed choppy and messed with my reading group flow.

Since that time and now having taught third and fourth grade, I realize my lessons were too darn long.  You know how kids start kind of rolling around or playing with their socks or they all need to go to the bathroom?  You can keep going, but the learning is done.

10 minutes.  That's all you've got.  So, a brain break or turn and talk or breaking your long lesson into several lessons may take time away from your instructional minutes.  BUT, if all they are getting is 10 minutes of your 20 minute lessons, it turns out as teachers we're wasting a lot of instructional time, too.

So, picture this: It's the first day of school in second grade.  1:00-1:20 is independent reading time.  So, at 1:00 we start reading.  They whole class lasts about two minutes (maybe), and then the staring at the ceiling, endless book shopping, and trips to the bathroom begin.  Sound familiar?

Turns out I was doing it ALL WRONG.  The concept of building stamina goes hand in hand with the sisters 10 steps to building independence.  You have to teach your students explicitly what to do, and then slowly (ever so painfully slowly) build them up.  In the beginning of the year, that 20 minutes is more likely to be 18 minutes of mini lesson, modeling, placing around the room, and checking in with 2 minutes of reading in there somewhere.

And that is a good thing.

What choice is to students, flexibility is to teachers.  I have used some mishmashed version of the Daily 5 for years.  It's looked different almost every year depending on what grade I was in, my students needs, and how my instruction has evolved over the years.

This was another big whoa moment for me.  Have I given my students time to practice and grow?  Or am I so busy trying to teach them all the things I think they need, that I don't give them enough time to apply it as readers and writers?

The best thing about summer for teachers is having time to read and reflect on these types of big pictures ideas.  Any of these strike a cord with you?


  1. I read this book for the first time this summer, and it has really changed some of my thinking. I know last year I remembered thinking that the kids that were engaged were getting a lot - and everyone else was staring at their toes. I will be using Daily (probably Daily 2-3) and CAFE for the first time this year. I would gladly accept any tips. (I am also teaching 4th grade for the first time in 20 years.)
    I am a bit confused at their schedule though. I will probably have my groups for about 2 hours and 20 minutes, and I need to teach, reading, writing, and social studies. It looked to me like they were using 2 hours just for ELA. Also, do people read literature circle books as well, or kids can select a book and read it in their free choice time? Ideas?

  2. Choice is the one aspect I struggle with for my students. I have done a modified version of Daily 5 the last few years...but I set what the students are doing each center. I can't let go! I know it is part of my control freak nature. :) I'm glad I read this is something that I really need to work on letting my students do during reading!

  3. I liked how this second book offered a little more give and take in terms of flexibility, because that's what it's all about. As I was reading, I thought of all the teachers who, after reading this book (or any other), drop everything they were doing to change their whole teaching philosophy. But that's not the point! The point is to know that these strategies are out there, and to use them in the best manner that suits the class.


  4. I think point #4 is really important, no matter what curriculum or textbook you might use. There is nothing out there that is going to work for every group of kids. As educators, we need to be really thoughtful about all of our choices in the classroom!


  5. Totally agree with your points above Megan! I've been a Daily 5 fan (not a hard core practitioner) for several years and the thing that made a difference to me is when I went to their conference. Everything they support is backed by research that is based on what the kids need and is a structure that can be plugged into any Reader's Workshop model.
    One of the things I loved that they will often say is that you need to make it work for your kids and your program. I've found that the reading specialists and librarians in the upper grades always comment on the stamina and independent reading behaviors that have really grown since we started using elements of the Daily 5 and CAFE.
    Great post!
    Ms. Pretzel's 2nd Grade Bugs

  6. Great points! I haven't read the new book yet, but even as a sped teacher I really enjoy those ladies! Met them twice and it is os worth your time to go to one of their workshops/conference!

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  8. I have been doing Daily 5 structure now for three years and would never go back to my old way. I love it because the kids love it. We came in in the morning and got ready then the kids did partner read. That freed me up to do what I needed to get done in the morning and go listen to each group. Then we were involved in a grammar lesson and moved into centers 1 phonics activity related to the mini lesson and then listen to read were their choices. Then I moved into reading group lesson whole group on a concept from Lucy Caulkins and broke up after that into anothe rround of centers spelling, one comprehension, one read to self. The centers once up and running lasted about 15-20 minutes before I change them. I use a musical app that keeps time for us so it is usually soothing in our room. The choice part is amazing. It really lets the kids be in charge. This year I am moving from 2nd grade to K. I will still do the same framework of choice it may just take a bit longer to set up the routine.

  9. These are great tips, Megan; thanks!! You've summarized it so well & it came in perfect time as I start to think how I want to structure Daily 5 this year!! Thanks!