The Daily Cafe

Strategy Groups AND Individual Conferring?!? How?


I just want to make another point here–taking running record on a regular basis is so important!! BUT not just taking the running record, but analyzing the the errors. Are they accuracy, syntactical or meaning errors? Looking at those errors will help you decide where the problem really lies.


You know, our first grade teacher does running records regularly, and I am so impressed with how she uses her results to make instructional decisions. Because we are still working on strengthening our conferring methods, and we are layering 6-trait writing on as an instructional/assessment model for work on writing, how do I convince our teachers of the importance of running records? As far as I know, our first grade teacher is the only one who uses them. And you’re so right… analyzing the error pattern is the crucial piece to the running record! Do teachers see the value of the running record over time, just as they will with the individual conferring?


If think if you remind them that they don’t have to take the RR on the whole book, but only a 100 word part of the text, that may help. When they realize that only takes a minute or two, a sigh can be heard :). If you remind them that as they listen, they can get a “feel” for the fluency piece–does it sound about the right rate, is there expression–then they can concentrate on the accuracy.

Several of us use a form that is basically a table with 100 boxes, 10 in each row, it becomes really easy to know when you’ve reached that 100 words. (it’s nothing fancy, but I’ll email you a copy of the one I have.) I would really encourage them to do this at least once a week, especially on those kids they have concerns about. This can also help teachers see if the material they are reading is at a good fit level, or if they need to adjust up or down.

Maybe you could give them a little coaching session about analyzing the errors and determining the true strengths and problems of the reader. I think once they see how much this little two minute informal assessment can give them, they’ll embrace it, as well.


I am new to Daily 5 and am the only one in my entire district doing this!!! I am a little nervous! I teach 4th grade. As far as running records, are there passages that I need to buy in order to do this, or do they just read a book they are already reading? At the beginning of the year, is there a common passage I need to find in order to start figuring out their goals? Can you email me the copy of the 100 boxes you use for running records? (


First of all–breathe :).

Good for you for being the pioneer! Most of the running records I take weekly or biweely are from the books the kids are reading. Depending on my purpose (fluency, accuracy, comprehension), it may be a “cold passage” or a reread of about 100 words.

Do you now have in place any kind of reading inventory–like DRA2, Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Kit–in place at your school now? If so, use those. If not, there are resources that you can use online, like Reading A-Z. I could recommend others, if you’d like.

I will gladly send you copies of the 100 box sheets that I use.

This Discussion Board is a great place to get the expertise of many experienced teachers, and the website can answer lots of your questions, so visit often!

I’ll send the copies now.


We do not have any assessments in place for 4th grade in my district except for universal screeners which only tell me fluency. We use Aims Web. I have asked for DRA but was told no due to funds. I have asked for Burns and Roe Informal Interest inventory but have not heard a reply yet. This is why I am so nervous!! I have no way to assess them and school starts Aug 1!

Thank you so much for your help!! I GREATLY appreciate it!


Hi there!
It’s great to see this thread still going!

Last year was our first year with Daily 5, and it was amazing. I’ve never seen kids [and teachers] so excited to read and write! I am currently working as the K-8 curriculum/RTI coordinator in our school, and I spent a great deal of time last year coaching our K-4 teachers as they implemented Daily 5 [I taught the 5th grade ELA sections myself].
I’m curious - do you have any support from a reading specialist or literacy coach in your district? Also, what are the other teachers doing in your school to teach ELA if not Daily 5? Are you concerned about resistance from your principal/superintendent? Last, do you intend on also using guided reading in your classroom? I’m asking these questions because it sounds like your all alone in this, and support is so important!

It sounds like what you need most is initial assessment ideas to get you a jump start on setting goals for your students. Here is what I will do to support our teachers at the beginning of the school year as they look to do the same thing:

  1. STAR Testing [we start testing in 1st grade when students are reading higher than guided reading level H] Aims Web gives you similar data as STAR testing.
  2. DIBELS for K-1 [this really helps quickly identify Tier 3 students, especially with our new students who we don’t have prior knowledge from the past year]
  3. Running Records [We will use Reading A-Z, but we have pre-ordered the new Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Kit - I think it will be published in September? - I’m not positive, my principal has ordered it!]
  4. Once we’re in the school mode and formal testing is complete, I will be supporting my teachers for the first time ever to actually do running records on a regular basis with best fit books once students are reading above guided level J. Once our students surpass this level, we start focusing less on decoding strategies and emphasize comprehension strategies as we differentiate during conferring and guided reading work.

Honestly, the STAR and DIBELS give you more of an overall picture of the student - generalities and patterns over time… I prefer running records for the immediate feedback it gives me for all students, and it really helps as we use guided reading in our school. Running records are quick, provide usable data, and they are great for helping you share information to parents about student progress [I work at a private Christian school, so we have extremely involved parents :smile:]

I use the Burns and Roe inventory/CORE Diagnostic testing for Tier 3 students only. I like Burns and Roe for specific info in areas of comprehension/fluency domains and CORE Diagnostic for specific info in the phonics/phonemic awareness domains. These inventories don’t give me the guided reading score I’m looking for to help my teachers with their daily reading lessons, so they are reserved at our school for me to use with our kiddos who aren’t responding to Tier 1/Tier 2 interventions in the classroom.

I buy EVERYTHING off Ebay! If your school is not able to help fund you, try looking for books there, although if you are going to spend your own money, I’d invest in a Reading A-Z subscription. I think the subscriptions run around $110/year. I have used it for years, and it has helped me support my teachers with everyday differentiation for Daily 5 - I couldn’t live without this resource! Plus, the subscription is immediate - no waiting for a book to be mailed to you!

Overall, I’m sad that you don’t have anyone in your school who is making this journey with you. As the person behind implementation of Daily 5 at my school, I can tell you our parents struggled with the change, and our teachers sometimes felt like they weren’t communicating their goals with Daily 5 very well. We are committed to making independent lifelong readers and writers at our school, and we will forge on this year, taking what we learned and making Daily 5 even stronger, but we are in it together, and I know I could not have done it without my teachers - we all support each other. Let me encourage you with this: I believe in developing high trust with my students, and Daily 5 helped me develop trust quicker because I was regularly conferring with my students. They knew I listened, and they knew I cared. I would find interesting books, read them myself, then recommend them to my students. Pretty soon they were doing the same for me! Daily 5 is worth the effort it takes to get it going - you won’t ever go back once you invest in it!
Would it be okay if I email you more resources next week?


What a lot of great information form kacieelizagaray!!

At this point, if you can’t get much $$ support, I agree that Reading A-Z might be the way to go. I looked at their site, and they offer a free trial, so you could look around and see if it would work for you. There was an ad on their site about a new online running record tool–don’t know what it looks like, but might b e worth checking out!

I agree that it would be great for you to find a buddy to start this journey with at your school–doesn’t necessarily have to be the same grade level–I recommend a good friend :).

I noticed the title of your original post was strategy groups AND individual conferring–HOW?? I recently attended a Sister’s workshop, and they talked about how many teachers they talk to all around the country are moving away from groups and concentrating on individual conferring. This really gives you that time to work on each child’s needs.


Yes, my original post was in a time of extreme frustration with trying to balance individual conferring and small groups - I did adjust to just individual conferring last spring toward the end of the year to experiment for the upcoming year, and it was more beneficial. I also like conferring with partners who are reading the same book together - I can double dose strategies for comprehension, even though it isn’t as individualized. I found my 5th graders loved reading books with friends!

I forgot to mention I recently purchased an actual running record calculator. It is still new in the box, but I will be practicing using it later this summer with my daughters before using it at school. If it is user-friendly, I will be purchasing them for all my teachers - looks pretty handy!

Unfortunately, time didn’t allow me to attend a Sister’s Workshop yet. I’m hoping to get some online classes though when school starts. I am so glad our school decided to go with Daily 5 - it has changed forever the way we view teaching and learning in all subject areas. I knew it was a full success for our teachers when our Kinder teacher asked about Math daily 3!


I could cry with pure happiness because you are giving some great advice. Unfortunately, my school district does not have a literacy coach or a reading specialist that could help me. We have a literacy leader in my school but she is a writing teacher and teaches 8th grade and has no idea about younger grades. My principal is great in that she lets us teach however we feel best suits the students (I have her daughter this year AAAAAAA) . The way I have taught in the past 5 years since we moved to departmentalized in 4th grade is by teaching with whole group novels. We would read it and I would teach our state standards that way. I refuse to use a basal. I just don’t think the stories make the students love reading which I think is my purpose of teaching. I have never done guided reading. I have never conferred either. I have always had great test scores but I just didn’t feel like my students left my classroom loving to read. I wanted to make a drastic change and that is when I found daily 5. I have done nothing but research this summer.
The other big challenge I have is that I have 80 minutes with three blocks. I am the ELA teacher which means I have to teach reading, grammar, writing, spelling, and vocabulary. to about 60 plus kids. I am trying to wrap my head around getting all of it in. We are tested on 3 genres of writing which they read a text and have to write with one of the three (informative, persuasive, and narrative). I am working on getting my room done this week so I can start wrapping my head around all of the teaching and scheduling before kids arrive on Aug. 1.
I appreciate all of the help you have given me on assessment. It has really taken some of the burden off. We used to have STAR but no longer do. I have never heard of DIEBELS but will look in to it. I have talked to someone today about F&P assessment so fingers crossed!!
Absolutely! Email me anything you would like to share!! You might not want to email me with your personal email because I may drive you crazy with all of my questions going through my head!!! LOL!
Thanks again. My email address is


Keep asking questions–and this is a great place, because you get ideas from teachers all over in all kinds of situations.

You might want to look into Literature Circles for your students, as well. This will get them into novels, but not all in the same novel, and the levels can be appropriate for different groups.

The Sisters discuss how by 4th grade, most students don’t need a lot of word work, so you can spend more time on reading and writing. Of course, vocabulary comes through everything we read or write. To help with higher level vocabulary, you may want to focus more on Greek and Latin roots and derivatives. Are you familiar with Words Their Way? There is a word sort book designed just for this work ( you can find it on Amazon for like $20). It really is great for vocabulary development and support.

In Daily 5, you’ve probably seen it discussed that by this level, you may want to plan for 2 rounds with a mini lesson at the beginning of each round. As is suggested in the book and online, start with Read to Self in place. Next, introduce Work on Writing. Have you looked over the Launching Lessons? Great place to get your mindset in place.

Of course the 10 Steps to Independence are invaluable, and should be given adequate time to get in place. Don’t be in a hurry–best to take the time to build stamina and independence before delving into everything else!!


Thank you for all of your help. I purchased Words Their Way this morning after reading your reply. Yes, I plan on taking my time to build stamina and to help my sanity! Last question (for now) with Work on Writing, can they work on the genres that I have to teach or is it mainly for free choice writing?


I advise you to set up a Writer’s Workshop separate from your Daily 5/CAFE time. It can be during the LA block, maybe once or twice a week–your D5 time will just be shorter those days. (Important to keep the two distinguished.) That is when you can most definitely teach the genres you need for them to work on.


PS I hope you like WTW–I think you’ll find it supportive and all laid out for you to use. Again, any questions I’m happy to share what I know :).


I don’t have a separate Language Arts block. :frowning: I have to teach reading, language, writing, and vocabulary within 80 minutes. That is why I am having difficulty figuring it all out. It is doable. I just have to think about it. I got my room finished today so I have all next week to try to figure something out. I thought I could do writing and language two days a week and still have daily 5 stations and then do reading three days. Thanks for all of your help.


For me, getting the room ready is like a big “ahhhhh” and then I can think about everything else I have to do!!