Ms. Kristi Banks » Reading Workshop in First Grade

Reading Workshop in First Grade

Daily Five and Cafe 

The Daily Five

The Daily Five is a reading and writing workshop structure that helps students develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working independently that will lead to a lifetime of literacy independence.  The literacy block is student driven, contains high student engagement, contains authentic, meaningful reading and writing, and the majority of the time is spent reading.  The teacher is working either one-on-one or in small focused literacy groups.  What interested me most about the Daily Five was the research base that guides the framework.  It fit in beautifully with my current teaching philosophy and education backgound in literacy.

The Components of the Daily Five
1.  Read to Self
2.  Read to Someone
3.  Work on Writing
4.  Word Work
5.  Listen to Reading

Read to Self

Each student has an idividual book box with books that are a "Good Fit." We learn how to pick a "Good Fit" book following the guidelines of "I Pick."
choose a book
urpose-Why do I want to read it?
nterest-Does it interest me?
C omprehend-Am I understanding what I am reading?
now-I know most of the words. 

Students also learn about "Three Ways to Read a Book."  We learn that we can read the pictures, read the words, and retell a familiar story.  The best way to become a better reader is to read everyday! 

Read to Someone

Reading to someone helps students grow as readers. Partner reading allows for more time to practice strategies, helps to build fluency, uses the strategy of check for understanding, allows children to hear their own voice and provides time to share in the learning community.  Students practice different ways to read with a partner such as:
1.  I Read, You Read
2.  Choral Reading
3.  Reading one book together
4.  Read two different books


Work on Writing

Students work individually or with a partner on a writing of their choice.  They may be continuing the writing they began in writer's workshop but ultimately it is a sustained writing of their choice. 
Students might work on:
1.  Persuasive writing such as convincing friends to read a favorite book
2.  Friendly letters
3.  Recounting a personal event, maybe they lost a tooth recently
4.  Create reports on a topic of current interest
5.  Poetry
6.  Respond to a picture or drawing
The important goal is that students are spending time writing about something that really matters to them to help them increase their fluency in writing.

Word Work

Expanded vocabulary and correct spelling allow for more fluent reading and writing thus speeding up the ability to comprehend what is read and get thinking down on paper.  Students will sort word cards into categories in order to  make connections to spelling patterns. 

Listen to Reading

Hearing good examples of literature and fluent reading expands students' vocabulary, builds stamina and helps them become better readers.  They are provided with the opportunity to listen to fluent reading and hear new vocabulary. 

Building Stamina

Many parents are amazed to hear their child speak about building "stamina".  It's not a typical word you hear first graders say!  When we begin teaching The Daily 5 parts, the first time we model, instruct, and demonstrate how to do this skill, the students start on their own for 1-2 minutes.  Every day we add one minute, eventually building their stamina to 20 minutes.  Some days we may only get to do 10-20 minutes depending on special activities, assemblies, or holiday events.  The students "build stamina" for each of the Daily 5 parts. 

Check for Understanding

This is a comprehension strategy that teaches children to stop frequently and check, or monitor, if they understand what they are reading. 

Often as beginning readers, children are so aware of reading accurately that they forget to take time and think about what they are reading and check to see if they understand the text.  Advanced readers can develop the habit of reading through the text without monitoring if they were aware of checking for understanding.

This vital strategy is not only one of the first we introduce, but is also one we model frequently throughout the year. 

When students are Reading to Someone, one partner holds a check mark.  This helps them to remember their job of listening and retelling what their partner just read.  Then they switch roles.  The other student reads as her buddy holds the check mark and this time she "checks for understanding".

The Cafe

Café is an acronym for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.  Gail Boushey and Joan Moser developed this system which allows even the youngest readers to self-monitor their progress and chart their goals within the larger context of the classroom community. 
During the Café, the teacher is working either individually or in small groups to provide instruction and practice in the reading strategies students need to master in order to become successful readers.  The teacher works with the students to help them set goals for their reading achievement and provides steps to help the child reach his/her goal.  The children meet with the teacher during literacy workshop conferences to be assessed, to receive focused, explicit instruction, to set goals, and then to follow up on progress. 
The teacher plans small-group instruction based on clusters of students with similar needs in one of the Café categories.  These groups are flexible, based on needs rather than reading levels.  Students may be reading different books but are working on the same strategy.  Below are the strategies that are explicitly taught to students during the Café framework. 
The cafe is a menu of strategies that are not meant to be used in a particular order but used for particular reading situations.  It is used just like a menu at a restaurant.  You don't eat everything on the menu at the same time, rather you choose several items.  The strategies are used in the same way.  Read below or click here for the Cafe Menu 

I understand what I read.

  • Check for understanding
  • Back up and reread
  • Monitor and fix up
  • Retell the story
  • Use prior knowledge to connect the text
  • Make a picture or mental image
  • Ask questions throughout the reading process
  • Use text features
  • Summarize text; include sequence of main events
  • Recognize literacy elements
  • Recognize and explain cause-and-effect relationships
  • Compare and contrast within and between texts

I can read the words.

  • Abundant reading
  • Look carefully at letters and words
  • Cross checking: Do the pictures and/or words look right?  Do they make sense?
  • Flip the sound
  • Use the pictures: Do the words and pictures match?
  • Use beginning and ending sounds
  • Blend sounds; stretch and reread
  • Chunk letters and sounds together
  • Skip the word, then come back
  • Trade a word/guess a word that makes sense
  • Recognize words at sight


I can read accurately, with expression and understand what I read.


  • Voracious reading
  • Read appropriate-level texts that are a good fit
  • Reread text
  • Practice common sight words and high-frequency words
  • Adjust and apply different reading rates to match text
  • Use punctuation to enhance phrasing and prosody
  • Read text as the author would say it, conveying the meaning or feeling

Expand Vocabulary
I know, find, and use interesting words.

  • Voracious reading
  • Tune-in to interesting words and use new vocabulary in speaking and writing
  • Use prior knowledge and context to predict and confirm meaning
  • Use pictures, illustrations, and diagrams
  • Use word parts to determine the meaning of words (prefixes, suffixes, origins, abbreviations, etc.)
  • Ask someone to define the word for you
  • Use dictionaries, thesauruses, and glossaries as tools