Using The Daily 5 (les 5 au quotidien) for Literacy

Recently, a co-worker of mine started using The Daily 5 (Boushey & Moser, 2014) with their students. Before knowing exactly what the program consisted of, I knew that literacy was a key component. This summer I decided to buy the book to find out more about this interesting approach to literacy and how it can be used to improve student literacy skills.

What is the Daily 5 (les 5 au quotidien)?

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The Daily 5, is a round of literacy activities students participate in during their literacy or Language Arts block. At the beginning of each Daily 5, the teacher conducts a Focus lesson and then students can select from one of the daily 5s to work on during each round (Boushey & Moser, 2014). These include:

  • Reading to Self (Lecture à soi)
  • Work on Writing (Travaux d’écriture)
  • Read to Someone (Lecture à un autre)
  • Listen to reading (Écouter la lecture)
  • Word Work (Étude de mots)

While students are busy working with one of the Daily 5 activities, the teacher has the opportunity to conduct individual conferencing, guided group reading/writing, as well as assessments (Boushey & Moser, p. 19). Length of Daily 5 blocks and the amount of Daily 5 blocks will vary depending on time assigned to literacy, experience of students and time during the school year.

A side note about the French translation:

This program was originally created in English and the French translations for this program vary. I have selected the French translation from Littér@tout.

How does this approach differ from my current teaching?

The Daily 5 is a very similar approach to literacy instruction I use within my classroom. During our literacy block, students conduct silent reading, listen to reading, reading to a friend, guided reading and word work, which are almost all of the elements of the Daily 5. How it differs is that this approach adds writing as an option during the literacy block, whereas my approach focuses on writing during writing instruction. This approach also uses shorter rounds of literacy allowing students to participate in more than one or two literacy activities (based on their own choice), instead of using only one block to conduct reading or one block for writing. These shorter periods helps with sustaining stamina and maintaining interest. I value the fact that students have choice in their learning.

Why I have decided to implement the Daily 5 for literacy?

I believe the Daily 5 is a balanced approach to literacy as writing, word work and reading are grouped together as activities performed by students. These activities are not too lengthy as each round of Daily 5 ranges between 30-40 minutes (Boushey & Mosher, 2014) so students can be more successful at maintaining stamina while exhibiting desirable working behaviours. I appreciate that this approach frees teachers from managing behaviours to working with a few different groups of students or individuals to meet their learning needs. Overall, this is an approach I would like to implement into my classroom this upcoming school year. It will be interesting to see if students are more motivated to read and write through this approach, especially in French.

Daily 5 resources

Student Weekly Check-in

A Daily 5 weekly check-in can be used to help younger students self-monitor what activities they have completed during the week. Here is an example of one I made where students colour the Daily 5 activity once completed and add their own words to the “other” section if they read with me or were completing an audio task.

Daily 5 weekly check-in

Daily 5 weekly check-in

Daily 5 check-in (Click on the link to get your own copy, you can also add a column on top of the categories and add the picture of each of the Daily 5 activities).

Teacher Check-in Sheet

Some teachers prefer to monitor the student activities themselves or have them check-in prior to starting a round of Daily 5, here is an example of a French check-in sheet I created to record student’s activities. The first sheet has room for 10 students, the second sheet has room for 15 students. For Student and Teacher check-in’s in English, refer to the Online resources section.

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Daily 5 Teacher check-in

Teacher Daily 5 Check-in Sheet (Click on the link to get your own copy)

Online Resources

The Daily 5 and Math Daily 3 Resources from Gail Boushey & Joan Moser:

MNWElementary – Daily 5 Wiki Site:

Mrs. Shannon’s Math Class Website:

English Daily 5 posters courtesy of The Teacher Wife:


Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2014). The daily 5: Second edition. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.


Technology Tools for French Language Learners

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend a French Immersion conference, focusing on French instruction. Some of the ideas presented at the conference, are ideas I already integrated into my French Immersion classroom, but the why and the how are worth mentioning to my greater PLN. These ideas are not new and may be familiar, but it’s worth taking another glance at a few tools that can be utilized when instruction students in a second language. Three different tools will be highlighted:

Read & Write through Google Chrome Extension or CD Software

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Read & Write Gold allows students to highlight text in a Google doc or on the Internet and the program will read the text for them. This is helpful when trying to read more complex text such as autobiographies from Wikipedia or researching scientific terms. It can also be helpful for students who have not yet developed reading strategies or vocabulary in French.

Below is a link to their website if your school does not already own this tool:

iTranslate app

Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 11.01.54 PMWriting or speaking in a second language can be difficult if you do not have the vocabulary needed for the topic being discussed. The iTranslate app or an online French-English dictionary can be a very useful tool when used correctly. This tool should be used to translate one word at a time and not whole sentences. When translating a whole sentence from English into French, the meaning of the text can change or become a little confusing. To understand the full effect of a Google translate gap, check out the video Fresh Prince: Google Translated (Collectivecadenza, 2013).

An advantage to using an online dictionary is that you can also look for the French dictionary afterwards and find out the type of noun the word is, assisting with adding the proper “articles.” I will often use this tool to verify the correct article use in my written French. My favourite online dictionary is:  An alternative online dictionary is:

When composing written or oral French, it is important to have the students think in French when trying to compose their thoughts, instead of having them translate in their minds. Translating materials is very difficult, even for very skilled writers. This is why authors hire translators to convert their books into another language and why the House of Commons hire translators to translate Member’s of Parliament’s speeches while they are delivering their speech.

iOS and Android apps

There are several great apps on the market for both Apple software and Android software than can be applied to French instruction. When choosing an app, it’s important to plan how the app will be used to enhance and improve learning. My recommended app page for elementary students provides a list of productivity and creation apps.  Meaning that students can demonstrate learning and understanding through the use of these apps, verses practicing or reviewing facts. Students have more options on how to represent their learning, as not all students prefer to demonstrate understanding through written text. These apps can also be used at the secondary level in either French or English instruction. If any of these apps are new to you, I recommend trying them out to see how they can be utilized in your classroom.


Collectivecadenza. (2013, January 15). Fresh prince: Google translated [Video file]. Retrieved from

Why I love PD

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Teachers in our school board have several opportunities to attend professional development throughout the school year. Some sessions occur at the school, others at the Calgary Teacher’s Convention, Calgary Regional Consortium (CRC) and various off-site venues. Regardless of when or who is sponsoring the professional development, there is something to be gained from attending these sessions well-planned sessions. Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to attend a full day French Immersion Conference. Even though this event was held on a Saturday, I was still very excited to attend as there are very few opportunities to receive professional development in French on topics that are applicable to second language teaching.

There were three speakers at this conference; two classroom teachers and a professor from the University of Alberta – all passionate and experienced with French instruction. It was invigorating learning with this diverse group of educators. Not only did I walk out of the day with several strategies and resources for teaching in French, I also felt excited and more appreciative of French instruction and the new authentic resources I can use with my students (especially the movie titles from France). I enjoyed being able to share my own experiences of teaching with technology while speaking French with other Alberta teachers. I also was able to expand my professional learning network, where ideas can be continued to be discussed and shared in the near future.

This is why I love PD! So many great benefits to being a life long learner, especially being able to improve my teaching practice. I will also be sharing some of what I have learned in the next blog post. In the meantime, please feel free to check out the updated mobile app list I have posted.

A happy teacher is a more “balanced” teacher


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I believe this is an appropriate time to write about the topic of balance as half a school year has just passed and some may be wondering how to get through the rest of the school year with the same enthusiasm and energy they had at the beginning of the school year. Understanding a good work/life balance is helpful in ensuring good mental health, good morale and helps prevent teacher “burnout”. No one should overdo either identity (teacher vs parent/partner), as this can be mentally draining and unhealthy in my opinion. Focusing only on your family or partner, can led to neglecting your duties as a professional, in this case a teacher. Teachers need to continue to learn (life long learning) so they may improve their practice. This would include purposeful professional development such as school led pd, teacher’s convention and unconventional pd (Twitter/edcamp/etc). On the other hand, spending all your free time learning and improving your practice can led to neglecting your love ones and yourself. You are just as important as your job. Here are some tips that help me through a year of teaching that may be of benefit for you. You may also want to check out the article: 14 steps to achieving work-life balance (Dugan, 2014).

1. Plan for both work and life activities

With good planning, it is a little easier to balance work and life commitments. I like to designate a time of day where I will work on planning, reading and marking. These tend to average out to an hour a day and an evening during the weekend. When report cards come around, I will schedule out additional time for writing, but will ensure that my children can attend their extra curricular activities and will plan a special day out/in for them to do to ensure they have quality time with me during the hectic time. I always plan some “me” time when things get tough at work to ensure I can recharge and de-stress. Planning especially helped me manage both family and grad school commitments.

2. Knowing it’s okay to break plans

Sometimes it’s necessary to break plans every now and then. Even though setting up a routine or schedule for teaching duties is very helpful, it can make life a little monotonous. If I receive a last minute invite for coffee or a movie, I am more than happy to postpone my plans for learning that week and take it up again another week. The work will get done, it’s a matter of when it needs to get done and how often you can relax and enjoy life a little. Balance is always key!

3. Be passionate in what you do

Whether it’s a family activity or for work, you should be passionate about it and you’ll enjoy it more. Follow your heart when choosing professional development to focus on a way to improve teaching, but to also enjoy the process of improving and the materials being learned. Same with life commitments, choose an activity to fulfill your heart such as running, dancing, art, etc. This will help make your heart happy, but will also give you the break you need from your work. If you have kids, don’t over schedule activities as they too need downtime as you do. Choose an activity that is fun and does not become the only thing to occur during your free time.

4. Be social

Even if you only have a few good friends or see them once in awhile, it’s important to connect with others. This allows for time to discuss issues that cause stress or provide an opportunity to “forget about work” for that brief moment. It can also be of benefit for work as well. Twitter and Edcamp are great examples of ways teachers can become more social about their learning by learning with others. Choose one way to learn with others.

5. Know your limits*

This would be the most important piece of advice. If you take on too much, regardless of all the planning and all the commitments you will be unable to fulfill all the duties that are asked of you and you may not be able to find anything for yourself. A balance between work, family and yourself is key!

The next time you feel stressed, try determining which facet of life is causing the stress and try to find more balance.


Dugan, D. (2014). 14 steps to achieving work-life balance. Retrieved from

Why I (heart) mobile apps

I heart apps

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Prior to the emergence of m-technology, students were required to type out the website addresses they wanted to access. This led to longer wait times for accessing webpages as it took awhile for students to find the letters on the keyboard or students were required to re-type their hyperlinks due to missing or mixed up addresses. In order to assist grade one and two students with this task, I would create HTML pages in Word using a picture cue which would take students to the desired technology activity. This became very helpful and students who independently find the websites they needed during our technology periods and free time. I still use a similar technique for older students, but instead of using picture cues, I will categorize websites by core subjects and will provide key descriptions of the websites they want to access.

Since the introduction of iPads in our classroom, students no longer need to access websites solely from the computer (on a side note, they still do and I do think it’s important they know both skills for using technology). Some of our favourite websites have apps that can be used to access content. I find this very handy as both an educator and as a parent for its portability function (we can take our iPad anywhere with us) and for it’s convenience of simple log-in/access. We use our iPads for center time and students are assigned tasks to be completed. This could be reviewing letter sounds through the Starfall app, listening to books on the RAZ Kids app or writing a blog post through a Kidblog account. It’s an alternative way to provide students with access to websites other than through a computer.

Not to mention, mobile apps allow students to create content in a personalized way (see blog post on productivity and creation apps). Students can choose a mobile app that will allow them to present information in a way they feel best represents their learning whether it be audio, video or a mixed content. Their preferred apps for creation are Sock Puppets, PuppetPals HD, Toontastic, Stop-motion and iMovie. Examples of projects using mobile apps are newscasts depicting current events in India/Tunisia/Peru/Ukraine and animating short stories from drafted story plans. Here are two examples of student created projects using creation apps:

Stop-Motion Fractions

Friendship PuppetPals

Apps allow students to access a variety of activities formally accessed on a computer. Some of the apps have been simplified to ensure students can access and utilize them more easily. The opportunities for learning are just as endless as laptop computing, but more portable, so learning can be more easily recorded in any of the classroom spaces/environments. These are just some of the reasons why I love mobile apps and learning.

Recommended mobile apps

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Starfall App

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RAZ Kids app

Kidblog app

Kidblog app

Why I Blog With my Elementary Students

BloggingEvery student has a passion in one of the core subject areas taught in school. For me, my passion was always math and social studies. For others, it is language arts,such as reading and writing. Not all students will like writing at first or feel confident with writing. However, in writing, every student has the opportunity to be successful given they are presented with a topic or genre that interests them. A digital medium to communicate ideas through writing is blogging, also known as edublogging (educational blogging). Blogging is currently being used with secondary and higher education students. Research has proven that students have much to gain from blogging for educational purposes. Key benefits of blogging include collaborative learning, increased engagement, feedback from a global audience, reflective thinking, improved writing, and development of technology skills.

More specifically:

  • Students benefit from working with their peers through sharing and discussing knowledge rather than working in isolation, which can be the case with paper journaling (Angelaina & Jimouianis, 2012; Chen, Liu, Shih, Wu, & Yuan, 2011; Halic, Lee, Paulus, & Spence, 2010; MacBride & Luehmann, 2008; Wang & Hsua, 2008; Zawilinski, 2009).
  • Blogging tools such as the commenting feature provide additional opportunities for student and teacher feedback (Deng & Yuen, 2009; Fessakis, Tatsis, & Dimitracopoulou, 2008; Manfra & Lee, 2012).
  • Working with an authentic audience motivates students to improve their writing, as students want their work to be understood and read (Fessakis et al., 2008; Howard, 2011; MacBride & Luehmann, 2008; McGrail & Davis, 2011).
  • Students have opportunities for questioning texts and thinking critically about subject matter when blogging activities are designed to respond in this manner (Arena, 2008; Zawilinski, 2009).
  • Students are more engaged with blogging than with writing traditional papers (Armstrong & Retterer, 2008; Ellison & Wu, 2008; Frye, Trathen & Koppenhaver, 2010).
  • The incorporation of visual literacy is often introduced when blogging (Arena, 2008; Drexler, Dawson, & Ferdig, 2007; Richardson, 2010). Students learn how to select media, which is appropriate for their content such as images, videos and sounds.

With the proper instructional design, teachers can incorporate blogging into their classroom, even with elementary students. These four key elements should be considered when designing instruction:

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Even though elementary students may require some support with technical skills, they may also benefit and enjoy student blogging. These are some recommendations on how to blog with younger students:

  • Select a blogging platform, which provides secure access to the site and a limited number of tools.
  • Discuss digital citizenship and blogging expectations to ensure a positive blogging experience for students.
  • Model literacy activities through the use of sample blog posts and provide a rubric to outline blogging requirements.
  • Select activities that meet curriculum outcomes and are relevant to student skills and interests.
  • Allow students to communicate ideas through written or audio blog posts with or without supporting media (photos, animation, videos, hyperlinks) in order to personalize learning.
  • Provide weekly in-class time for blogging activities, such as during computer sessions, centers or during literacy activities. Offer opportunities to blog at home for those students who wish to blog about topics of their choice.
  • Provide ongoing instructional support, guidance and feedback to ensure students are able to achieve bloggging outcomes.
  • Take advantage of the commenting feature as a way to praise and motivate students to continue discussing blog topics.
  • Involve students throughout the blogging process to ensure they are engaged during blogging activities and address any technical or scholarly issues.
  • Encourage students to peer mentor each other to enable mastery and confidence of skills

As an elementary educator, consider blogging activities the next time you need to instruct writing to your students. Your students may becoming even more engaged and interested in the topics you are learning and some will even want to write on the blog during their free time.

Click on this attached Blog Handout for details from this blog


Angelaina, S., & Jimoyiannis, A. (2012). Analysing students’ engagement and learning presence in an educational blog community. Educational Media International, 49(3), 183-200. doi: 10.1080/09523987.2012.738012

Arena, C. (2008). Blogging in the language classroom: It doesn’t “simply happen.” TESL-EJ, 11(4), 1-6. Retrieved from

Armstrong, K., & Retterer, O. (2008). Blogging as L2 writing: A case study. AACE Journal, 16(3), 233-251.

Chen, Y. L., Liu, E. Z., Shih, R. C., Wu, C. T., & Yuan, S. M. (2011). Use of peer feedback to enhance elementary students’ writing through blogging. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(1), E1-E4. doi:10.1111/j.14678535.2010.01139.x

Deng, L. & Yuen, A. H. K. (2009). Blogs in higher education: Implementation and issues. TechTrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 53(3), 95-98.

Drexler, W., Dawson, K., & Ferdig, R. E. (2007). Collaborative blogging as a means to develop elementary expository writing skills. Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 6, 140-160.

Ellison, N., & Wu, Y. (2008). Blogging in the classroom: A preliminary exploration of student attitudes and impact on comprehension. Journal of Educational multimedia and Hypermedia, 17(1), 99-122.

Fessakis, G., Tatsis, K., & Dimitracopoulou, A. (2008). Supporting “learning by design” activities using group blogs. Educational Technology & Society, 11(4), 199-212.

Frye, E. M., Trathen, W., & Koppenhaver, D. A. (2010). Internet workshop and blog publishing: Meeting student (and teacher) learning needs to achieve best practice in the twenty-first-century social studies classroom. Social Studies, 101(2), 46-53. doi:10.1080/00377990903284070

Halic, O., Lee, D., Paulus, T., & Spence, M. (2010). To blog or not to blog: Student perceptions of blog effectiveness for learning in a college-level course. Internet And Higher Education, 13(4), 206-213. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2010.04.001

Howard, M. (2011). Not an unfeasible “extra”. Science And Children, 49(4), 32-35.

MacBride, R., & Luehmann, A. (2008). Capitalizing on emerging technologies: A case study of classroom blogging. School Science And Mathematics, 108(5), 173-18.

Manfra, M., & Lee, J. K. (2012). “You have to know the past to (blog) the present”: Using an educational blog to engage students in U.S. history. Computers In The Schools, 29(1-2), 118-134. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2012.656543

McGrail, E., & Davis, A. (2011). The influence of classroom blogging on elementary student writing. Journal Of Research In Childhood Education, 25(4), 415-437. doi:10.1080/02568543.2011.605205

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful Web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.

Wang, S., & Hsua, H. (2008). Reflections on using blogs to expand in-class discussion. Techtrends: Linking Research And Practice To Improve Learning, 52(3), 81-85.

Zawilinski, L. (2009). HOT blogging: A framework for blogging to promote higher order thinking. Reading Teacher, 62(8), 650-661. doi:10.1598/RT.62.8.3

How to Connect (Digitally) with Parents to Communicate Student Learning

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As the new school year quickly approaches, educators will need to determine how they would like to best communicate student learning with parents. Traditionally, teachers send out a letter the first day of school welcoming students into their classroom and listing out some of the items and goals for the school year. Throughout the year written letters or emails are sent as a form of keeping parents up to date on student learning. Schools will post monthly digital newsletters and sometimes include an entry ballot parents need to print off for a monthly draw.

With the emergence of social media and mobile learning (New Media Consortium, 2013), and more parents connected to others through tablets/Smartphones, teachers and administrators can consider the utilization of technology tools to stay connected with parents when informing them of student learning. Here are a few tools that could be used to communicate student learning with parents and families:

1) Online surveys/questionnaires

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2) Social Media

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3) Blogging

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4) QR codes

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 When deciding which tool is right for your school or classroom, you will need to:

Understand the demographics of your families: Although many families are connected online, not all families have access to technology. It will be important to know how families prefer to communicate or even providing parents with more than one method of accessing the message such as a Tweet through Twitter and a written agenda message.

Select a tool that communicates learning more effectively: Technology is not an optimal choice for all forms of communications, but can sometimes be a better choice. If teachers rely on email communication or agendas to send reminders about library books (as an example), then the Remind app or even a LMS (learning management system) can be a better option for communication. If the goal is to practice printing while having the student communicate reminders to parents, then written agendas are a better option.

Know your school board’s technology plan and policies: The tools on the list are examples of some of the ways teachers can better engage with parents, but some of these ways may have restricted access within the school board. Make sure you have permission to create and maintain a social media account and always share this site with your administrator. Keep your admin informed and be cautious when posting information online. Even though the intent is to keep parents up-to-date, specific information identifying your students or pictures posted without consent can be very problematic and unethical. When in doubt, leave it out or ask for a second opinion.

Sometimes it’s the little old-fashioned things that start the school year off with positivity and enthusiasm, such as the school postcard we received through mail welcoming us back to a new school year.

Here’s to another fabulous year of learning for both teachers and students alike!



New Media Consortium. (2013). Horizon Report, K-12. Retrieved from