Daily 5/Daily 3 Choice Boards and Hyflex Learning

When I first set out to create these choice boards, I had one thing in mind: being able to successfully implement both the Daily 5 and Daily 3 programs in Grade 1 in a Hyflex learning environment. I have definitely accomplished this goal. What I didn’t factor in was how useful they would be each time we needed to pivot to full Distance Learning. And even more than that…how beneficial they were when I was the one who needed to stay home and a substitute teacher took over my class. 

Everything in one spot. No explaining to do. 

Most of my students can navigate the choice boards independently, allowing me to support the few that need guidance. When I was teaching from home while the students were in the classroom, the substitute teacher only had to make sure there were enough iPads for each child (8 to be exact) and we were off! If that wasn’t a possibility, the links were all there and photocopies could be made to use in class. 

When we needed to do a quick pivot to online teaching in April, again, no problem! As schedules were being adjusted based on feedback, and many of my colleagues were scrambling to change their plans, I was ready to go! I just needed to link my choice boards to the schedule, and Math and Language Arts were up and running.

After implementing this with my students for a few months, I knew it was time to collect some more formal feedback. I created and sent out a quick Google Form to gather feedback from parents and colleagues for my PGP. I targeted colleagues with a special education background, parents who were permanently on-line, parents who only experienced these boards because of distance learning, and a member of our administration who happens to wear three hats. This feedback will be very important, as it will allow me to continue to adjust these boards to meet the needs of my students. I am still waiting for some responses, however so far, the feedback has been positive and the choice boards have been well received. 

Parents appreciate the flexibility of the boards and that there are mandatory and optional activities. When we switched to distance learning for the month of January, I received the feedback that the board had too many options, making it difficult to know what was required and what was more of a suggestion. Therefore, at that time, I began starring mandatory tasks, which alleviated much anxiety for some students and parents. In addition to this, there are also personalized options for reading and math. Through my Google Form, I did get feedback that there seemed to be a gap in the amount of weekly writing tasks students were required to complete. Upon reflection, I realized that this truly was absent from my board, and I will spend time over the next few weeks adding in a mandatory written component, along with the spelling rules introduced this year. 

One final adjustment I have made at this point in the school year is helping students develop their independence and accountability. I have been spending time over the last 2 weeks teaching students how to submit their own work through Classkick, rather than having their parents take pictures of it and email it to me. Developmentally, this may not have been appropriate earlier in the school year, but students have now had lots of practice with Classkick as a tool, and they are much more comfortable with learning online. Therefore, although it is still a work in progress, I am excited to see them take on this new responsibility and deepen their skills even more. 

With feedback from parents and teachers, you’d think I was all set, right? Wrong! Feedback should not only be from the parents, but from the students themselves, too. This is when our Teaching and Learning Coordinator, Melissa Thompson, suggested using the ‘Poles’ function through Google Meet. As always, she was an excellent sounding board and I immediately created a pole to help me better understand how the students themselves felt about both the Daily 5 and Daily 3 choice boards.

Whether we need to revisit Hyflex learning or not next year, these boards are going to be a permanent part of both my Language Arts and Math program. Through the exploration of trial and error I have done this year, I am already thinking ahead to what will need to be true at the start of next school year. I officially launched these choice boards in January, therefore, I will need to create more phonics mats to add to the boards, to account for what the students will be learning at the start of grade 1. It is always necessary to start with a little review, as well as provide fewer choices in order not to overwhelm them. I am excited to find new apps and tasks to add next year! I am feeling very satisfied with these choice boards and am eager to share them with my colleagues. 

I have always described myself as a lifelong learner. It can sometimes sound cliche, but looking back on my 37 year of teaching, I can’t even count the number of new things I have learned this year! My perseverance and dedication to my own growth will hopefully continue to filter into my teaching, improving my curriculum while also setting the example for my students and colleagues that we truly are all “always on inspiring (learning) journeys”.




Hyflex Learning and The Daily 5

Knowing that this school year we would be teaching both online and in-class students simultaneously, I immediately had to think about the best way to implement my lessons based on a hyflex learning model. In particular, I wanted to revamp my Daily 5 Choice Board. This choice board has been part of my literacy block for many years and it allows for differentiation, higher level thinking, choice and much needed small group time. I came across a colleague’s retweet of Nadine Gilkison’s Daily 5 Online Options Google Site and was immediately inspired to create a Daily 5 Online Choice Board tailored to meet the needs of both my online and in-class students. This board would also allow me to embed my version of the phonics mats shared on the Grade 1 Facebook group I am a part of. Working with our Teaching and Learning Coordinator Melissa Thompson, I was able to quickly learn a few basic computer skills I had not yet mastered and she was an excellent sounding board for some ideas I had. I began by creating my phonics mats, keeping in mind the different learning styles of each student. As each activity was completed, I kept asking myself the same question. ” How does this task reinforce the phoneme sound being introduced?” Once satisfied they did just that, I moved on to completing the rest of the board.

The completion of this board did not come a minute too soon, as we never did return to school after our winter break. It was a necessary tool to help my students navigate our Daily 5 literacy block online. Thank-you to Morah Lianna for sharing her template and timer. Now linked on the online schedule, the students have successfully continued to complete components of the Daily 5 and participate in Guided Reading groups. For the many parents who now juggle working at home alongside their children, certain tasks were starred as a must do. This alleviated the stress felt to complete it all. The board gives my students many options, allowing them to own their own learning while practicing their literacy skills. It also gives parents an easy way to find games and books to help support their children with a lagging skill. As I reflect on the completion of this board, I am truly pleased with the content. I will be changing the vowels, blends and digraphs highlighted depending on our focus each week. A lot of time has been invested in creating this choice board, and I believe it can benefit multiple grades, second language students and be used by both French and Hebrew teachers. I am excited to get feedback from parents, students and colleagues once they have used the choice board for a few months. At the OJCS, we continue to be guided by our North Stars. We learn better together, and I am grateful to belong to a school filled with many excellent educators who support each other and make great things happen.


Math Daily 3 and Distance Learning-A Virtual Learning Experience

March 13, 2020 will be a date forever etched in my memory. One can say it is a day that every teacher realized that the future is now. For myself (and my colleagues) this was a realization that did not frighten or intimidate us. We have been preparing for this moment for over 2 years now. I am eternally grateful for the incredible learning opportunities our Head of School Dr. Jon Mitzmacher gave us and the incredible mentorship of Sylvia Tolisano in order to make this shift to Distance Learning pretty much seamless. An incredibly proud moment for OJCS. So how did this impact my PGP that I started at the beginning of the school year?

As I continue to make the shift from differentiation to personalization in Phase Two of Distance Learning, I was able to share a new math program that is all about self directed learning. IXL has just been introduced to my students and I am excited to gather feedback from both students and parents. Students begin working in the Diagnostic Arena, which will allow them to narrow down their personalized independent working level. They may click on “I haven’t learned this yet” when faced with a level that is presently beyond what they can do independently. What I noticed through Distance Learning, was that I was able to see first hand how our students have become very comfortable with technology and can use it to share their thinking. Flipgrid is a platform we use often, and can be used to reflect on what students learn in our math block each week. Each student’s voice is heard, and from these shared math explanations, we learn from each other. It is also a great way to evaluate what they understand and the strategies they have mastered. “Not all students have to master every strategy, but they do have to have a strategy tool box.” This is a direct quote from David Costello’s OAME2020 math online workshop (Developing a Mathematically Literate Environment) which I attended virtually last week. Following the online session I immediately reached out to my colleagues to share how inspired I was by his explanation of mathematical instruction,thinking and physical space. Part of personalization is having the students involved in documenting their thinking and reflecting on artifacts that display their growth. Flipgrid reflections are an excellent artifact for student blogfolios. Jamboard (yet another tool I have learned to use) is a way students can build their strategy toolbox during Distance Learning. Each student could create a list of math strategies they are comfortable using and this artifact can be placed into their blogfolios. At this point in my blog post, I had an “AHA” moment. I am most definitely ready to create, simultaneously with the students, blogfolios. Distance learning has accelerated my timeline. Learning new ways to evaluate students (IXL math program) having them use new ways to share their thoughts and strategies, creating blogfolios, all coming together.

Diving deeper into math strands is something I continue to work on with our math coach, Mrs. Chelsea Cleveland. After listening to an online workshop by David Costello, he reaffirmed what problem solving in my classroom should look and feel like. I agree that there is a big difference between providing practise in problem solving, versus having students really have to work on a problem. Working on a problem, possibly for days in order to refine strategies, revisiting their original plan, add new tools to their strategy toolbox or make errors in order to get closer to a solution, all part of the process. To quote my math coach, ” Don’t steal the struggle.” Distance learning forced my hand to make this happen. I have a better understanding that the problem itself is just a tool to help them with their mathematical understanding. In order to support them as they problem solve, ask why did you use that strategy and how did you know that strategy would work, instead of what strategy did you use. Go deeper! As I go deeper into my PGP, I  better understand how to set up each component of the Math Daily 3 program in order for it to run independently. This in turn allows for more one-on-one time with each student. I have also found new websites (brainingcamp.com, IXL, mathbuddyonline.com) to help make independent learning possible. The Daily 3 station known as Math Writing (problem solving) is where I will continue to challenge my students to go deeper. I will approach math as I do my literacy block, setting my students up to be able to self-monitor by using a strategy tool box they build for themselves, communicate their thinking to others and most importanly to have a strong mathematical understanding of all the concepts being introduced.





Creating an Environment of Risk Takers, Problem Solvers, and Critical Thinkers

When revisiting what mathematics looks and feels like in my Grade 1 classroom, I asked myself many questions. Are my students afraid to take risks because there is an urgency to get it right the first time? Are they open to learn more than one way to solve a problem? Do they know how to think outside of the box?  Can they clearly explain how they came up with their solution, so that others can learn from them? Do they show initiative? Do they manage their time well? These skills are not only fundamental when meeting the expectations of a Grade 1 math program, they represent what are seen as key skills by future employers.

How do I create an environment which allows these skills to be developed and strengthened? The Math Daily Three is my new PGP (Personal Growth Plan). I believe that after experiencing the success of implementing the Daily 5 last year as my PGP, this is a logical next step. My ultimate goal for this year is to teach my Grade 1 students to be independently engaged in meaningful math activities, while simultaneously developing the skills described above.

Math Writing

Daily 3 #1:  Math writing,  aims to develop risk taking, perseverance, critical thinking, and communication skills. The above photo captures the first three skills. We completed a round of stations with the students, who then had an opportunity to share their strategies. Each week another problem is introduced.

Math with a Partner 

Daily 3 #2: Here the students practice skills introduced in our focus lesson. The focus lessons involve three rounds, I do, we do and you do. First, the teacher models, thinks out loud, and directly teaches the concept, while students observe and follow along, often using manipulatives and whiteboards. The teacher and students then practice the new concept taught. Finally, students create their own problems and trade with a friend. Once this is completed, students are given time to share how they solved their problems.

     Math by Myself

Daily 3 #3: Here is an example of an independent math activity that reinforces number words by recalling a familiar chant. The students are practicing forming their letters to spell the number words provided. Each week, different math activities are added.

I am excited to see how the Math Daily 3 will change how math is perceived by both my students and parents. Students will work independently, allowing for more time for one-on-one conferencing to support or enrich a concept introduced each week.  With each round of Daily 3 activities and implementation, students will be exposed and have more opportunities to build their critical thinking and problem solving abilities through teamwork and ongoing practice, as well as stick with a problem longer to persevere, through trying various strategies to, “think outside the box.” The ultimate result involves a fostering a love for math and building skills, which will ultimately impress employers.

So now that I have  a better grasp on what the Daily 3 involves, and why is it so important, I now have a more in depth understanding of how I can implement this on a regular basis into my current program.

So where does that leave me? More questions and next steps.

  • Ensure more open-ended questions are highlighted within the Daily 3: Math Writing
  •  Learn, watch, and try the strategies of other math colleagues in my greater PLN, around how they incorporate “I do, We do, You do” in their classes.
  • Technology.  Does this only mean practicing questions online? No. How to create and use technology to not just practice skills, but to also show off, document, learn, navigate problems and manipulatives, search for connecting information, all focused around math skills and concepts (i.e. Flipgrid, navigational internet skills, YouTube videos, online gaming sites, Google Images, Google Form etc. (to collect analytics: not there yet).
  • Data collection (This is a biggie!, but it’s on my mind) How to capture student growth and progress through the Daily 3 in a clear and more automatic manner, so that learning is meaningful.

My students and I are excited to be on this wonderful learning journey together! 










Daily 5 and the Now Literacies. Daily 5 Chronicles


Initially, the focus of my Personal Growth Plan was The Daily 5, understanding and implementing its literacy framework in order to create a classroom of highly engaged readers, writers and learners. I feel confident about my professional growth this year and was often able to capture many moments where my students were on their own personal learning journeys.

The Daily 5 allows students to follow our North Stars. The above photos provide evidence that we own our learning. During our literacy blocks, these students transformed themselves into an animal researcher, a biographer, a poet and a couple of book worms (students working on a novel study). So is that it for our Daily 5 journey ? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I want all of my students to be prepared now for their future.

How do I amplify all that the Daily 5 has to offer? Embed the now literacies into this wonderful framework and show them by example how to be a leader.

As I read chapter 2 of A Guide to Documenting Learning, I came across a QR code that lead me to a blog on the best ways to demonstrate leadership. As I studied the above sketch note, this was in fact what had transpired as I introduced Twitter, a blogging platform to my Grade 2 class. So why have a classroom Twitter account? It was a solution to a problem. When filling in a KWHLAQ chart, one of my students discovered there was not enough information on the Narwhal in our school library or on-line to satisfy his curiosity. So as we brainstormed and filled in the KWHLAQ chart, Twitter was suggested as a way of reaching out to others in our community and the world. That is how our first lesson on Twitter came to be. I simply pulled up my first Twitter post and the sharing and learning began. The purpose of our classroom account, understanding of hashtags, and our profile were the focus of our first lesson.

Our next step will be how to write a tweet and use the hashtags that will allow us to connect to our intended audience (scientists and researchers). Introducing this tool allowed me to incorporate the now literacies into my Daily 5 curriculum, which is essential if we are serious about graduating students that are literate. The now literacies are:

  • basic literacy (reading,writing, listening and speaking)
  • media literacy
  • digital citizenship,
  • global literacy
  • information literacy
  • network literacy

I will no longer look at literacy the same way. My eyes have been opened and I am excited each day to understand and learn more about the now literacies. I will demonstrate leadership by modelling by example, be transparent in the process, go through the experience alongside my students and share.

Who Owns the Learning? Daily 5 Chronicles

Daily 5 is a literacy framework that instills behaviors of independence, creates a classroom of highly engaged readers, writers, and learners, and provides teachers with the time and structure to meet diverse student needs. Because it holds no curricular content, it can be used to meet any school, district, state, or national standards.  ~The Daily Cafe

This week I asked myself, “Is the Daily 5 literacy framework allowing my students to achieve the ultimate goal?” Are they a classroom of highly engaged readers, writers and learners? Do they truly own their learning? As my Grade 2s completed their  literacy block this past Wednesday morning and headed off to their next class, I remained in the empty classroom long enough to browse through my phone and look at some photos I had recently added. Were they just photos of compliant students doing what was asked of them, or did I have a classroom of students who now own their learning? Let’s examine four components of the Daily 5 and the photos which I believe captured my students owning their learning.

Work on Writing 

I will confess, if I did not take a few minutes to quickly walk around the room and ask questions, I might have deleted these photos, not truly understanding the evidence I possessed in my photo album. In the photos below, both students were working on their writing, yet neither student was getting their inspiration from a class list of topics. One was very eager to complete a biography on a famous basketball player, Kawhi Leonard and another student was busy completing a narrative on a special family event. Yet a third student, who sadly will be leaving us in a few weeks, took this opportunity to write an account of her experience here in Canada for the past two years. Who owns the learning? They do!




Word Work

My students understand the importance of expanding their vocabulary. The photo below captures a student wanting to learn more and being self-motivated to do so. The student chose to spend our literacy block  reading chapter 2 of our novel study “My Father’s Dragon”, stopping to jot down words she is unfamiliar with. I know I am hoping to see these vocabulary words added to our live dictionary on Flipgrid. The group photo below is evidence of two things; an example of Win Win, and a group of students who chose to play the competitive level of Osmo words. Before the Osmo spelling game could begin, however, the students had to resolve a conflict, brainstorming a solution where everyone wins.


Who owns the learning? They do!



Read to Self/Read to Someone

Finally, as all these wonderful things were taking place in my classroom, I had the opportunity to do some one-on-one conferencing with some students. Where were the others you ask? They took this opportunity to make a quick trip to the library to add to their book bins. They were using the Star Reading program to help them choose a “Just Right” book. This last photo in my post needs no words to describe what is taking place. But three words come to mind, highly engaged readers.



Providing Evidence of Sharing and Amplifying Learning. One Teacher’s Journey

This blog post will provide evidence of sharing and amplified learning. This is the lens I chose to focus on as I entered a grade 3 math lesson. Whenever documenting takes place, in order for it to be useful, a plan needs to be put into place. Why am I documenting? What is my documentation focus? These are just a few of the things I needed to reflect on before I began. The lesson was introduced and the sharing happened. The following video provides evidence of a grade 3 student sharing some of her strategies to solve the first problem introduced.

As I walked around to the different groups, I came upon  a pair  where the sharing of ideas were clearly one-sided. Below a student is sharing his/her strategy and the other student appears to be listening. Fifteen minutes later, there was still no evidence of an exchange of ideas. This is just the first step in my documentation of this pair, Will there be growth?

As the student who was doing the sole sharing left to participate in a Gallery Walk, I witnessed the other student add to their work. He shared. But I believe his partner never benefited from this missed opportunity. Further documentation was needed to have concrete evidence that sharing eventually took place. My documenting journey continues.

I then witnessed a guest blogger capturing a student sharing various math strategies he used to solve the problem he was working on. This guest blogger is amplifying the learning that is taking place in this classroom. Once he posts it on his blog  and the commenting begins, there will be untapped possibilities to extend the learning.

What do I take away from this valuable experience? Documenting is a very mindful exercise. It is not just an opportunity to take a series of photos or videos. Ask yourself; “What do these photos and videos really capture?” Was this the best way to make the learning visible? How can I best store them for future use? What can I do differently next time in order to use my documentation to enhance classroom learning? I am excited to add new layers to the documentation process!


The Daily 5 Chronicles

This year is no different than any other year, as each year I am excited to grow professionally and learn new things. New things I can use in my classroom to enhance the learning opportunities of each of my students. The Daily Five is the focus of my PGP (Personal Growth Plan). Seemed simple enough at first, until I read the book and realized that there are so many important components that have to be worked on in order for it to be truly successful. To understand and accept that the biggest constraint of a trilingual school is time, is key to properly implementing this program. At the beginning of the year, I was convinced that the three components I would use in my classroom would be Read to Someone, Read to Self and Word Work. I felt that writing would take too much time and take away from the other components of the program. As we began the Daily 5 I took a moment to think about what goes on when a student creates an entry in their journal. They are encouraged to edit and work on their spelling, make the story interesting {expand their vocabulary and add lots of details}. So technically, as they write they are doing work work.

After a few months, this what I know to be true, the Daily 5 looks and feels like this in my grade 2 classroom.

  • Uninterrupted ‘Read to Self’ time as they enter the classroom;
  • During our block of time three times a week we work on Word Work, Work on Writing and Listen to Someone (IPADs  Tumblebook App);
  • I do a Read Aloud as well on a fairly regular basis;
  • Conferencing goes on at this time, as well as small group guided reading sessions.

In October as I launched the Daily 5, I wasn’t completely satisfied with Word Work and I felt it needed to look and feel a little different. That is when I reached out to Andrea Hernandez a “master teacher” in the Daily 5. She mentioned something I had seen on Pinterest A Word Collector. Here, the students are encouraged to add words that they can read, but do not yet understand their meaning. Then they use a dictionary or IPAD and find their meaning and are celebrated when they use this word in conversation or add it to a journal entry.

This video shows one of my students as he stops reading his book, quietly walks over to the board and adds a word. Every other student was engrossed in their own novel and so didn’t comment or stop what what they were doing to look up. The student immediately returned to his spot on the carpet and his chapter book. My class love any opportunity to add to the board and as recently as this afternoon pointed out a word they heard during my Read Aloud that happened to be on the board. The student was eager to share that the meaning of the word could explain how it described the character’s action well. Evidence my students are expanding their vocabulary.

My students love reading and ask for Book Bin time, they also are very self motivated to go to the library and choose “Just-Right” Books for both home and school. Here’s where I noticed my Grade 2 sports fans did not have Just-Right books to satisfy their need to read about any and all sports. With the help of our excellent librarian and a quick trip to Amazon we found many appropriate books to add to already wonderful library.

Finally, at this point in the year my students are setting goals for themselves. Using CAFE the 4 key components of successful reading, each child has had an opportunity to conference with me to see what they feel still needs work. We will have periodic check-ins to ensure the success of these goals. There is still more work to be done, but I can happily say the Daily 5 instills behaviors of independence and creates a classroom of highly engaged readers and writers.

I am a believer

Recently I have been given the opportunity to be a part of an incredible cohort lead by Sylvia Tolisano. This cohort and I are on the same yet different journey. How to best prepare our students NOW for the 22nd century. When it comes to technology, many from my generation say “by the time I learn to use one technology the world is on to another” It was pointed out that the form of technology used, is simply a tool. From even the beginning of the first cohort meeting, this was implied and repeated. I now understand that to be true, and there are many tools I am learning to use, but the most important thing I discovered was, what these tools do to enhance learning!

At our last PD day I was asked to be part of a Speed Geeking workshop. It immediately made me reflect on what I had learned to this point and how I can best share this knowledge with others. At first, I became caught up with the tool itself and not focusing nearly enough on how the tool can enhance learning. I presented iMovies to the staff and how this can be used in their classrooms. Where and how did I start?

I had no previous experience with using iMovie at all. I had to get out of my comfort zone and try something new. With the help of a colleague, we modeled as a team to the grade one class how they can document their thinking on how to solve a math problem. Within a 40 minute period, I was a believer.  I got to see first hand how much I could get out of this app. As I write this, without deleting the word app, I understand clearly that it is not about the app. The apps will change. It is what I saw before my eyes and what two six-year olds can independently accomplish. One student was able to ask questions, give positive feedback and promote another student to share their strategies, and their thinking, while the student video recorded the other. I, on the sidelines was able to see first hand how well the student understood the concept as she could understand it, explain it, and teach it to others. It wasn’t the app that did this. It was the student. The tool just allowed me to visualize and capture the moment in time, which then allowed me to share and amplify learning during our Speed Geeking workshop.

Two things to note at this point;

  • the 15 minute sessions in Speed Geeking opened up my colleagues eyes to various new possibilities within their own classrooms, regardless of subject or language.
  • I now can’t wait to give every child in my classroom that same learning opportunity as those first two mentioned above.


                                                                       I AM A BELIEVER!!!