Last year I placed baskets with markers and crayons around the room for students to use when working on writing. Obviously, I did not have enough baskets for everyone so my students would share. I felt like this distracted them from their writing. This year I am giving each student a plastic cup of markers for them to keep in their cubbie. If they go to work on writing then they can go and get their cup and find a place to work.
Last year I waited awhile before allowing my students to have full choice in their rounds and when I did start I did not keep track of where they were going. This year I am going to implement choice earlier on and use a recording sheet to track where they are going. I found this one from Lyndsey Kuster (A Year of Many "Firsts"). Based on further reading (The Daily Five Workshop Book by the Gail Boushey & Joan Moser), I am going to make my students go to read to self and work on writing everyday. I plan to do three rounds a day so they will have choice in the order they do them in and in one of the rounds they do. I also plan to tell the students that I am going to work with that they are coming to me before everyone starts to make their choices. By knowing they are coming to me up front I think it will help with the disappointment of not getting to go somewhere else during that round.
Last year I only did two rounds and I did not do a very good job of teaching in a mini-lesson format. This year I am going to use most of my ELA block for daily five so I can do 3 rounds. I am also going to write my ELA plans in more of a mini-lesson format to help me break my teaching up. After revisiting the CAFE book I plan to format my daily five time as follows: a mini-lesson focused on comprehension- a round of daily five- a mini lesson on accuracy- a round of daily five- a mini lesson on fluency or vocabulary- a final round of daily five- share time- writer's workshop. My mini-lessons will be determined by the emergent CAFE menu, my curriculum, and my students' needs.
Last year when students went to word work they were expected to stay there the full 15-20 minutes. Again, based on further reading I am going to have them do about 10 minutes of work work and then move to work on writing if they need to. I noticed that after awhile some of my students had a problem staying on task for the full time. I think giving them the option of moving to writing will help this. I am also going to change up my word work options. Along with making words using different manipulatives and materials I am going to have a word family and word sort tub. Last year I had students choose the words they spelled from the word wall. This year I am going to change that by having them only work with the new words for the week. I think this might help with their focus too.
Last year I waited until my students reached 15 minutes of reading stamina to add a new station. This year I am going to start adding new stations once they have reached 7-8 minutes of stamina.
Last year I tried having my students shop first thing in the morning. This was oftentimes hectic and hard to manage. This year I am going to have my students shop during a round of daily five. Each table will shop on a different day. Eventually they will get into a routine and be able to to manage this without me.
Listen to reading was my biggest thorn last year. I am going to add it last this year and I think I have decided on a regular CD player with an adapter that I can attach several pairs of headphones to. This seems like the sturdiest idea and the cheapest. Everyone had great suggestions for how to handle this station, but since I do not have access to a lot of the technology suggested I think am going to try this route.
Last year I did not use plastic clips to hold their spots in their writing notebooks. Consequently, they wrote all over the place. This year I am going to use the clips to hold their spots.