Monday Motivation {Managing Centers}

I'm linking up with Jen Ross, Teacher By the Beach, to talk about managing centers! I know I am a little late to the party, but it's been a busy week!

Since I teach third grade, I don't do traditional centers so today is going to focus on my ELA block and how I do Daily 5 rotations in my classroom.

I have only been doing Daily 5 for two years, but I am so happy I made the leap! My students love the aspect of choice that it allows them; not just in what they do, but also in where they get to sit to do their work. I implemented flexible seating this past school year as well so it all fit really well together.

First, know that I do Daily 5 in conjunction with Fountas and Pinnell's balanced literacy model. Daily 5 takes place during my small group portion of the guided reading model. It also takes several weeks to get the students introduced to all 5 rotations.

What is Daily 5?

The five components of Daily 5 are:

* Read to Self - Students read silently on their own
* Work on Writing - Students write about whatever they want silently and on their own
* Read to Someone - Students pick someone to read with and practice fluency and comprehension
* Work on Words - Students work on phonics and word skills
* Listen to Reading - Students get on technology and listen to books or do some kind of reading program

You will want to introduce them to your students in this order. Here is a set of plans that I used this year to help me introduce each component to my students. Click the picture below to download the free Daily 5 plans.

Building Stamina

During read to self, you want to make sure students can keep their stamina for a set period of time. You will want to determine the goal based on your students grade level or however long your reading group lasts. My reading groups last for 20 minutes, so my students goal was 20 minutes. Don't be surprised if they can't last longer than 1-2 minutes the first day. I used this stamina chart this year to track our Daily 5 stamina. I made the chart into an anchor chart and I changed mine so that it said Daily 5 stamina so that I didn't have to make a chart for each component. You can do whatever works best for you. As soon as you see a student who is off task, you record the time, bring the class together, discuss what went wrong, how they can improve for next time, and try again. Do not try more than 2-3 times in one day. If they break their stamina more than that, just carry on with the rest of your day and try again tomorrow. You can have them keep reading to self, or working on writing, or whatever component you are on, but after they have broken stamina a few times, you just won't track it again that day. 

About Daily 5 in my Class

I only have time during my ELA block for two small groups which means my students can only do two Daily 5 components a day, unless they are meeting with me that day. 

One of the major components of the Daily 5 structure is that they have choice in what they get to do. Obviously they don't have a choice if they are meeting with the teacher, but I never pick what rotation they get to do unless the other rotations are full. I do set a limit to each component so that not everyone is in the same place. I post this flipchart on the board and students come up to the board and select where they go. 

Setting up Daily 5

While you are introducing each component, you will want to have students model do's and don'ts for each component and have students discuss what they notice. You will also want to create an anchor chart of students expectations as you introduce each component of Daily 5 with your class. I created anchor charts with my students and then printed out some cute ones I found on TPT. It is recommended that you create them first before you post them in the room. 

Read to Self

This is what your students should look like during read to self. My students usually have some sort of response to do during read to self that correlates to our guided reading mini lesson for the week so that they have some sort of purpose for reading. I usually give them the whole week because not every student gets to do read to self every day because sometimes they are meeting with me or doing another rotation. My students get their books as part of their morning routine. We call it "book shopping." Each student has a book bin that they keep above their cubby. They are assigned a day of the week to pick their books and they know they aren't allowed to go back if they don't have enough books for the week. You want to make sure to talk about picking "just right" books with your students at the beginning of the year. If they read all of their books, they just reread what they have. I require my students to have at least 1 chapter book to make sure they have something that will get them through the week. 

Work on Writing

For Work on Writing, we come up with a class chart of things to write about and post it in the classroom. I also make a copy of it and the students glue it in their notebooks. For an editable copy of this list, click the image below:

You will want to make sure that you check students notebooks regularly to make sure they aren't doing the same type of writing over and over. This is something great to do during your weekly conference time. 

Read to Someone

This rotation is generally a favorite! I limit Read to Someone to only 2 partners per rotation. It can get loud and distracting if I am trying to do a reading group. During this rotation, you will want to have students practice comprehension. It is also great for practicing fluency. While you are introducing Read to Someone with your class, you want to make sure you discuss how to help your partner when they get stuck on a word. For comprehension, you can use questioning dice or comprehension spinners like the one posted below.

Working on Words

Word Work is also a very popular rotation in my classroom! I also limited it to a few students because I didn't have the space for them at the word center.

My Word Center has scrabble tiles, a whiteboard with magnetic letters, two Scrabble Flash games, markers, crayons, multi-colored whiteboard markers, dice, and crayons.

I used Anna Brantley's Spelling Practice in a Snap for the last two years in my word center and it has been so easy and such a life saver! I printed all of the pages and put them in page protectors. Many of the activities are dry erasable in the page protectors. A couple of the activities, I had to make multiple copies of and put them in the page protectors so that students could take them out and use the crayons and markers to complete them.

You can purchase Anna's Spelling Practice in a Snap by clicking her picture below!

Listen to Reading

During Listen to Reading, students get on the computer or other device and listen to stories. If you have a books on CD, they can do this as well or have them do another online reading program. Some great resources for Listen to Reading are RAZ-kids if your school has a license, Epic (which is free for teachers), Moby Max, Front Row ELA. This year, my school purchased a program called Imagine Learning so our students did that during Listen to Reading.

Here are just a few snapshots of Daily 5 in my classroom once we had learned about all 5!

Tracking Daily 5

You may want to have your students keep track of what rotations they have visited that week so they are making sure to hit everything. I have kept a checklist in the past, but that can be time consuming. I was given this chart to help students keep themselves accountable. It is on the last page of the free Daily 5 plans at the top of this post if you want to download a copy. They print 4 to a page so you don't have to kill too many trees! You can print them out for your students and have them keep them in a folder or glue them in their reading notebooks. I would have students use a crayon, colored pencil, or marker so that they can't change the rotations they have visited. I know your students would NEVER do that, right?! 

I promise you won't regret implementing Daily 5 in your classroom. Your students willy be fully engaged! I know many teachers take away the option of choice and I highly recommend that you don't. That is part of the beauty and success of it. 

This is just a little bit about how I do Daily 5 in my classroom. I would love to hear how you do things! I know I always have room for improvement!

Managing Guided Reading 

Over the years, I have created some resources to help make guided reading time a little bit easier for myself. This year, I made tabs for my student's notebooks. We took all of our notes and responses in one spot and they were easy for me to collect and grade.

This year, I plan on adding more tabs for Writing and Word Study.

Here is an example of my guided reading group tracking sheet.

You can grab these tabs, my guided reading group tracking sheet, and many of my other guided reading resources in this mini kit. It is available in my shop for $3! Just click the image below to grab your set!

The file is editable and includes the following:

*Guided Reading Binder Cover
*Assessment Summary Form for benchmarking
*Reading Notebook Tabs & guidelines printout
*Reading Group Tracking Sheet
*Group Meeting Sheet
*Running Record Form
*Student Anecdotal Notes Options
*Guided Reading Templates

** Not everything is pictured in the preview below.

Win a copy of the Guided Reading Resources by commenting and telling me a tip for managing your Daily 5 or Guided Reading time! Please leave your email in the comments! I will choose a winner by Sunday!

I hope this post has been helpful for you.

Congratulations to comment number 3! I will email the Guided Reading pack!


  1. Thanks for all of the tips that you provided! I have been trying to use google docs and digital folders as much as possible to store my data and records. I will often scan in running records and copies of my benchmark assessments and store those in the digital folder along with other student work and anecdotal records.

    1. What a great idea! Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I love reading how others have implemented Daily 5 into their classrooms. Last year, I had 4 groups in my room and we rotated between 4 stations- teacher, spelling, technology, and independent reading. It was hit and miss with my students, so I've been looking into Daily 5 and giving my students more choices. How many groups do you have and how many times a week do you meet with each group? Thank you!

    1. It changed throughout the year. I started the year with 5 groups and then by the end of the year I had 4. I had inclusion in my classroom, so one of the reading groups was managed by the inclusion teacher. I was able to meet with two groups a day and I met with my Bubble group three times a week, my high group twice a week, and my below level kids once a week because I also meet with them additionally later in the day for LLI. My inclusion/resource group got met with every day and did LLI with the resource teacher.

      I don't think it's about giving kids more choices, but making sure they have a choice in what they are able to do. I think the most important thing is making sure they have a strong handle on each component before introducing the next. People are always so amazed when they walk into my room and see my kids so focused and engaged during my ELA block. I'm not saying it's perfect, but they are engaged. I think there are many things I can improve to make it more meaningful for them, but I think the choice is powerful. I do recommend limiting the number of students at each station. I base the number off of the number of students.

      I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  3. I use rotations similar to Daily 5, however our Literacy Specialists recommends all stations have to do with reading rather than word work or writing. Like you, I have read to self, read with technology, and partner reading.
    The other station that I use is reading fluency practice. At the fluency passage, I have several different passages on the various reading levels according to F&P and the passages are in page protectors. The students work individually and read each passage for 1 minute and mark their stopping point with a marker. The students do this 5 different times using a different color marker each time and then using a calculator they find their average and record it in their notebook. Since each rotation is 15 minutes and this takes approximately 10 minutes to complete (reading for 1 minute five times, marking your stopping point, counting your words each time, averaging and recording), the students use the last few minutes to reflect on what they struggled with and how they plan on improving. The students love this station because they get to use timers and calculators, but it does take a lot of training.
    When your students are in the partner reading station, do they read a particular type of book or any book of their choice? Our school has a collection of "We Both Read" books that are designed for parents and students to read together, but I use them in this station. I always put a higher level group and a lower level group together in this station and they know they have to partner up with someone from the other reading group. After partnering up, the lower level student reads the left page (student page) and the higher level student reads the right page (parent page). When we make up the reading groups or when students move reading groups they are told that they are left or right readers.
    I like how you keep your reading log, notes, and reading responses all in one notebook- that is something I plan on doing this year.

    1. Hey! Thanks for commenting! My students practice their fluency while in read to someone, but they don't track it and it's not that structured. They get to choose what they read and who they read with. We were trained that Daily 5 is all about choice or it loses its effectiveness. I have a bin of Read to Someone articles and magazines that students can use. The comprehension spinners are in the bin. They can also choose to read any book from their own personal book bins. The students know that they just have to take turns reading pages. We practice what it all looks like when I first introduce Read to Someone. We practice A LOT and how to help each other when we are partnered up low to low, low to high, low to mid...I really try not to tell students who they can and cannot partner up with unless I begin to have a problem with two students not following Read to Someone expectations. It ruins the idea of choice. =) Anyway, thank you so much for sharing! I like the idea of students tracking their fluency! Our school is moving to data notebooks this year, so this would be something I would love to have students track.


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