The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades
Publication Type:Web Article
Year of Publication:2006
C. White, a literacy coach in North Carolina, introduces this book by saying,
“Imagine sitting around a kitchen table drinking coffee with a few of your
favorite literacy experts.” The “daily five” are reading to oneself, reading to
someone, listening to reading, working with writing, and spelling/word work.
Boushey, G. & Moser, J. (2006). The
daily five: Fostering literacy independence in the elementary grades. Portland,
ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Gail Boushey and Joan Moser
2006 (152 pp./paperback)
Reviewed by Donna C. White
Imagine sitting around a kitchen table drinking coffee with a few
of your favorite literacy experts, along with two enthusiastic
sisters who are both teachers and nationally recognized consultants
in literacy and "creating beautiful spaces for learning."
That is the feeling that emerged as I read The Daily Five:
Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades
by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. Grounded in the work of authorities
such as Regie Routman, Richard Allington, Lucy Calkins, and
Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, among many others, The
Daily Five provides a systematic structure for helping
students become independent and successful readers and writers.
Boushey and Moser begin with a reflection of their own evolution in
reading and writing instruction. This proves to be a wonderful
"stroll down memory lane" for those of us who have been teaching
long enough to remember a time when the classroom was "MY"
classroom and the materials were "MINE." This was a time when
"I" made the rules, and students who could not behave would
have to "flip a card" and miss recess. During this time, literacy
instruction was either delivered entirely in whole group or
entirely in small groups. Students who were not working with
the teacher had plenty of worksheets, "board work," and projects
to keep them busy and quiet!
At the end of the day, we had mountains of papers to grade and
even more to "run off" for tomorrow. Still we were perplexed
when our students did not make the progress that we felt they
should. We knew there had to be a better way, but we did not
have the time or energy to figure it out.
The Daily Five approach transforms the literacy block to a time
for students to benefit from both whole group and small group
instruction with explicit, focused teaching. The students
also participate in activities that actively engage them in
purposeful practice and application of the skills that they
are developing. These activities comprise the Daily Five:
Read to Self
• Read to Someone
• Listening to Reading
• Working on Writing
• Spelling/Word Work
The foundation for the Daily Five is achieved through a student
driven management structure that is put into place from the
very first day of school. Based on principles of trust, choice,
community, and stamina, Boushey and Moser thoroughly explain
the steps necessary to establish an environment that simultaneously
conveys warmth and caring as well as a respect for the seriousness
of the literacy tasks at hand.
The authors clearly realize that this type of environment does
not magically happen. Teachers are given the specific steps
to take to ensure that each component of the Daily Five is
explicitly defined, taught, practiced with appropriate feedback,
and reviewed until the routines become a habit for every student.
Ultimately, the students learn the rationale behind the Daily
Five through discussions about a "sense of urgency" and work
with the teacher to create "I" charts that will help them
be independent as they develop the stamina to become successful
readers and writers.
Boushey and Moser have anticipated just about every possible scenario
and provided tips on how they might be addressed. For example,
many teachers use paired reading with their students. It is
not too difficult to use this technique when the students
are sharing a book or when they each have their own copy of
the same book. However, Boushey and Moser give practical strategies
to use when the partners are reading two different books of
differing reading levels. They even give step by step instruction
on how to teach the students to "ignore the teacher." While
at first glance, a teacher may not see why his/her students
would benefit from this instruction, it can be distracting
for students when a teacher is conferencing with an individual
student or a small group of students. Learning when and how
to ignore the teacher at appropriate times is definitely a
The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary
Grades is a great book to read just before the beginning
of a new school year. It gives many practice strategies for
starting the school year in a way that will ensure that the
reading and writing proficiency of students will soar. However,
by following the steps outlined by Boushey and Moser, the
framework can be implemented at any time during the school
I look forward to using this book as I facilitate a book study
when my colleagues return to school in just a few weeks.
While we will not be able to gather around the kitchen table
with coffee and literacy experts, we will have the benefit
of the wisdom and practical advice of two very knowledgeable
and talented sisters! I look forward to implementing the
Daily Five so that each of our students will become proficient
readers and writers with the stamina and independence they
will need to become lifelong learners.