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A YEAR IN ‘THE DAILY FIVE’ – ‘THE GOOD FIT BOX’

September 20, 2010

THE ‘GOOD FIT BOX’

One aspect of the daily Five that instantly attracted me was the setting up of individual personal book collections for students.  Instead of insisting that students borrow one book per night from the boxes of basal readers, they are taught how to select a handful of books from a variety of sources, which they then keep in a personal ‘good fit’ box.  I have always made available a collection of quality literature items in my classroom, mostly from my own children’s shelves, or from op-shops and garage sales.  I know all these books intimately and am able to match them up with individual readers. I also borrow books from our school library, and I choose books that I know well and love.  I also include photocopies of favourite poems: think Colin McNaughton or Michael Rosen.  There are also restaurant menus, toy catalogues and play scripts.  All these may be read at school and borrowed for home reading practice.

What has happened to the basal readers?  They are not all bad.  I have taken home a handful of these each weekend to read, and if I have enjoyed them I will promote them to the students – just as I would any other worthwhile read.

At the beginning of the Daily Five year I spend a lot of time selecting the books for each child’s ‘Good Fit’ box.  This is very time-consuming -taking about 30 minutes a day – but worthwhile. I believe that the students enjoy finding something good to read in their boxes, and begin to trust me to recommend them a good book.  Having completed a reading assessment during Assessment Week (each child comes in for an assessment interview in the week before school starts), I have a good idea of their reading abilities.  Sometimes I don’t get it quite right, and give a student a book which is just a bit too hard for independent reading.  It helps to warn parents at the beginning of the year about what books are going home, telling them not to panic but to let me know if a book is too hard for home practice.

After a few days it’s time to relinquish control.  After all, the skill being practised through the ‘Good Fit’ box is for the student to find a book that is the right fit. We utilise the ‘I PICK’ chart from the Daily Five, although I found the ‘Purpose’ aspect a bit hard to explain to my Grade Twos.  The good old Five Finger Test – if you make less than five errors on a page, then it’s an okay book for you – is useful and the students find this easy to do.

It is time also to call upon the power of peers and  cultivate an environment where students recommend books to one another.  Once a week we would sit in a circle with our boxes, and take turn to place in the middle any books we did not want, and to select any books placed there by other students.

Establishing the ‘Good Fit’ box system takes time.  When the daily Five routine is up and running, students can spend a few minutes at the beginning of the day to update their boxes.  At the beginning of the term I found it best to invest the time, advertise books by telling the class my summary and opinion of some titles,  get students to model and recommend titles, and to spend time with individuals talking about what they had in their box.

To summarise,

MY TOP TIPS:

  • read the books yourself
  • inform the parents about the ‘good fit’ box
  • make maintenance of the boxes a part of the weekly routine – don’t slack off

Do you have any tips to add?  Any questions?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Natalie Duffy permalink
    September 22, 2010 3:46 am

    Thank you so much for sharing. It does take a lot of time setting up the books boxes, teaching, modeling and practicing the daily 5 routines but the pay off is big. I love your once a week sharing time where students sit in a circle to discard and choose new books from each other. What a great way to get kids talking about the books they read.

    • brette lockyer permalink
      September 22, 2010 6:42 am

      Your feedback is much appreciated Natalie. The discarding circle can get a bit chaotic, but serves well the purpose of getting book covers in children’s faces. They seem to place a lot of weight on peer recommendations. They are also in the habit of saying: “I think that this book would suit Madeline/Jason/some other child.” I think they are incredibly perceptive and accurate at matching a book with their friends’ reading capabilities.

  2. September 22, 2010 1:34 pm

    I agree with Natalie, the idea of sharing and peer recommendations is great. I can see the grade 2s that I work with loving the chance to personally recommend books to their friends. This year I have the pleasure of working as an ESL teacher in the grade 2 classroom of my grade level colleague of last year. She has a beautiful organisation system for the class books-she has boxes and baskets categorised (fiction>fairytales, space, magical, animals etc and non-fiction) all around the rooom. Spacing them out all over the room is a great idea that she consistently uses with the student’s personal book boxes also. Once a week the students go book shopping, which is as you can imagine very popular!

    • brette lockyer permalink
      September 22, 2010 11:05 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to reply Meg. I appreciate the idea about spacing book boxes out all over the room. Sounds like a garden in which you might stumble upon something surprising and delightful. Note to self: before next term, get rid of superfluous furniture and my old teacher rubbish!

    • Natalie Duffy permalink
      May 28, 2011 11:17 pm

      The children enjoy book shopping. I need to remember to place book shopping on top of my to do list. The daily 5 site has some suggestions for book shopping but would love to read about other routines to allow all students the time needed to book shop on a regular basis.

      • brette lockyer permalink
        May 29, 2011 4:34 am

        Thanks for your contribution Natalie. At the moment we have a once-per-week session where we ‘renovate’ our book boxes, then set up on our desks all the books we don’t want. Recommendations from friends are valued. Children also have a really good idea which of their classmates are reading books at their level also. Spending a little regular time on this is well worth it.

  3. Robyn Fox permalink
    October 4, 2010 2:29 am

    Loved reading about your Daily Five year so far. Would like to use your circle time book promotion when I can enjoy Daily 5 again. Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom with the world, Brette.

    • brette lockyer permalink
      October 7, 2010 7:35 pm

      Your feedback is always appreciated for this tentative blogger Robyn. My blog helps me with my own reflective process, which is as essential as breathing to me. However I don’t find it easy to write. Would you like to do a ‘guest post’ one day for my blog, outlining one aspect of your experiences with the Daily Five?

  4. April 7, 2011 5:48 pm

    In my combined first and second grade there was a literature study for the first semester, using basal readers.. All second graders took part, and every year a few first graders were included who were beyond the beginning reading programs. People often asked why basal readers were used with the controlled vocabulary that eliminated the style of the author – and call it a literature study. Well, first of all, the fiction, non-fiction, plays, and poems in the basal series that were used were excellent.1 A few, such as poems, did not have a controlled vocabulary. But even those that did were well-written in an interesting manner. We talked about the style of the author in the afternoons when literature was read to them, sometimes comparing a current piece with a story in a basal reader. But the major reason might well be that keeping track of so many different books for a semester might not be manageable. Also, in those beginning years there wasn’t much money for new books, prohibiting the collection of multiple copies of various pieces of literature. The final reason, but not the least important, is that although many children could read various children’s literature comfortably, some could not, usually because of perceptual problems.

    The program included questions that combined components of literature with cognitive processes. Children interacted orally with a peer and then a large group, sandwiched between reading and writing at their own ability level. My hope was that the knowledge gained transferred into each child’s own reading in selected books of interest.

    Learn more about this literature study and how to design your own, in my book, Early Childhood Programs: Opportunities for Academic, Cognitive, and Personal Success. Included is a web site where programs and activities can be downloaded for use in a classroom. Also, see 7 reviews on http://www.amazon.com

    1. Early, Margaret, Senior Author. 1979. “The World of Giants and Monsters”, People and Places, 7-57. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. (It has long been out of print but there are used book stores on the web that still carry the series.)

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