Literacy Instruction at Alaka’i O Kaua’i

Dr. Seuss sums up the magic of reading in the following quote: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Learning to read for a variety of purposes is essential to success in school and to learning in general. As an elementary student, your child may be asked to read for pleasure, or they may be asked to read to learn new information. In both cases, solid reading skills are necessary for success.

At Alaka’i O Kaua’i, reading instruction is accomplished through student participation in Daily 5, which is a reader’s workshop format that fosters literacy independence in the elementary grades. Daily 5 is not a curriculum or basal program. It is a research-based instructional model for reading that marries explicit instruction in reading strategies with opportunities for students to practice each reading strategy, not only independently, but with peers, in small groups, and with a teacher. Daily 5 engages every student in meaningful literacy tasks that are proven to have the biggest impact on student reading and writing achievement. These tasks also foster children who love to read and write! Just walk into a classroom engaged in Daily 5 on any given morning and listen to the chorus of children who eagerly ask, “Teacher, can I read to you today?”

Students receive explicit whole group reading instruction through a daily teacher read-aloud of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction text. During this time, the teacher models best practices in reading to the students. These strategies and practices are chosen from the Literacy CAFE Menu. CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary.

Students are then given independent practice time to read and write, while the facilitator provides focused, intense instruction to individuals and small groups of students. The students are engaged in 5 different activities, which build their stamina as readers and writers.

These activities comprise Read to Self, Read with a Buddy, Listen to Reading, Work on Words, and Work on Writing. During the Read to Self block, students are building stamina as readers, choosing and reading books at their “just right” reading level. While participating in Read to Someone, they are practicing and sharing reading strategies, working on fluency and expression, and checking for understanding.

In Listen to Reading, students hear examples of good literature and fluent reading. They expand their listening and reading vocabularies, thus becoming better readers and writers. While they Work on Writing, students continue the work they have been doing during writer’s workshop, producing a piece of writing based on a strategy or genre being taught during mini-lessons. Lastly, Work on Words allows students to practice spelling patterns, memorize high-frequency words, and add to their knowledge and curiosity of unique and interesting vocabulary.

During reading conferences with individuals and groups, the facilitator gains valuable information about each child’s strengths and greatest needs as a reader, which helps her to better guide instruction. Conferring with students is a powerful tool for finding out what students are thinking as well as finding out what reading strategies they are employing.

Daily 5 is much more than a reading curriculum or management system, it is a structure that will enable students to develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working with peers that will lead not only to a lifetime of independent literacy, but more importantly, a love of reading and writing!