An image of the cover of Alligator Pie.

Chime and Chant Language Learning

When I was in the Faculty of Education one of my Associate Professors was Jean Malloch, author of “Chime In” and other professional teaching resources.  I learned from her the importance of rhythm and rhyme in the early acquisition of language.  I also love to read and write poetry.   While growing up my sisters shared their own love of  the poetry of Ogden Nash and Dennis Lee.  These poets formed the beginning repertoire of poetry that I have shared with my students over the years with the addition of poets Shel Silverstein, Ken Nesbitt and Loris Lesyinski to name a few.

At the beginning of the school year when teaching in the primary grades, I would create a ‘Chime and Chant’ duo tang for students with two or three poems about September, fall, school and character. Each week during the school year we would add a new poem.  Sometimes it was just because they were fun to read and perform.  Other times they were connected to our topics of study.  We worked together reading these poems chorally in different ways: call and answer, parts attributed to groups of students, leaving out the last word of the line and having the students chime in as well as reading with actions, different types of voices and dramatic effects.  These short poems also provided opportunities for me to teach beginning reading strategies such as word prediction, reading word families and segmenting words.  We would practice our poetry daily and often the students would have the majority of the poetry memorized by the end of the week.  Sometimes while standing and waiting during a transition time we would chant a familiar poem together without even using our duo tangs.  We would take poems apart, mix them up, change the words and use the poems to identify word families, commonly used words and word endings.  Students would increase their fluency in reading and add to their vocabulary.  We stored our poetry books in the student’s book bags and which ensured that when students went to their independent reading time they always had something that they could read independently.  When students partner read they would often choose to read poems chorally.  When students read to their grade four buddies they would proudly show off their reading skills with their Chime and Chant books. As some students soared in their reading, they would choose some of the poems that they wanted added to their Chime and Chant books independently or I would provide some new more challenging poems during their guided reading time.  As the year progressed, the Chime and Chant books became more personalized. We would still chant some of our favourite poems together and I would still share a poem a week but students but less emphasis was placed on the whole class process as they gained their own reading strategies.

Beginning writing in the primary grades can be daunting for some students.  I used poetry writing to provide structures that were easily accessible for beginning writers.  Diamanté, list, free form and fill in the blank poetry structures were among some of the formats that we used.   When I taught students to write poetry we would create shared poems with the structure for a number of days and generate word charts to provide students with familiar vocabulary to reference in order to scaffold the learning and when they were ready, the students would put their own poems together.  After writing the poetry students would then practice reading their poetry, add actions and dramatic effects and then present their poems chorally in front of the class or create a video of their reading.  Some went further and created green screen effects to add to their poetry presentations.  Poetry generated student evidence of learning for reading, writing and oral communication.  It provided a routine and structure to a part of our day that was comfortable for the students and fostered their learning.  Poetry provides shared reading and writing opportunities in a format that is comfortable for children and doesn’t overwhelm them.

Loris Lesynski 

Shel Silverstein

Ogden Nash

Dennis Lee

Ken Nesbitt


The Daily Five

I recently was asked by the principal at Ancaster Meadow to start integrating “The Daily Five” program into my classroom as was every teacher in my school. I just am starting to implement this program and I will be fully into the swing of things by Monday!

I would love to share my program with everyone! Here is how it works.

Activity 1: Read to self
During this activity, students will be sitting in a group of desks where everyone there is reading quietly. If students choose this activity, they will be reading until they have reached their maximum for the day (a maximum of 15 minutes) and then they will be able to choose a few questions in their reading journals to answer. For this reason, students are asked to always have a book with them in class starting Monday, January 12. I will collect these journals weekly. 

Activity 2: Word Work
During this activity, students will be sitting in a group of desks where everyone there is reading quietly. If students choose this activity, they will be reading and when they find a word they are unsure about, they will use either a device or a dictionary to find the meaning of the word. They will then record this meaning in the “word work” section of my blog. I will look at the entries on that section of my blog weekly. 

Activity 3: Work on Writing
During this activity, students will be sitting in a group of desks where everyone there is working in their writing journals. They will pick a few topics that interest them and they will narrow it down to one. They will then work on writing about that chosen topic. Sometimes, the topic will be provided for them. They will do this activity and I will collect their journals weekly. 

Activity 4: Research with a partner
During this activity, students will choose a partner in the group they are sitting with to pick a topic or question to research. They will then spend their time during that activity centre researching that topic. They will record their findings in the section on my blog that is called “Research with a partner”. I will look at the entries on that section of my blog weekly.

Activity 5: Inquiry questions
During this activity, students will choose a question from our book or create their own question and spend the time during this activity researching the other. They can create a video to show their answer or simply record their findings on the section of my blog called “Inquiry Questions”. If they choose to make a video to record their findings, they can record that on the class iPad and I will look at that at the end of the week as well. Either way, students are asked to post their questions that they chose on the inquiry question section of my blog. 


I will use a tracking sheet to record so students can record who has done what weekly. Hope this is useful to anyone who is trying to incorporate the Daily Five into their language program!

Work on writing board

Work on Writing

One of my colleagues does The Daily 5 in her classroom. In my Board, this is an initiative that we are all currently working towards. When I used the Daily 5 in my classroom, I sometimes found it hard to constantly keep my students engaged in the Work on Writing aspect of this program. After looking around her room, I just fell in love with her Work on Writing centre. In her class, she has a separate area for her Work on Writing. Students all choose which centres to go to for that day (choice is always important).

At her writing centre, she set up one of the three-fold bulletin boards, filled with information about different types of texts, and some examples of what students could write about for each text type (i.e. letter, story, etc). This is a great idea for students as they can be immersed in their writing, and THEY can choose what to write about using whatever text type they choose. Below I have included a picture for you to observe (and perhaps steal) for your own classroom if you wish!

A bulletin board with notes about reading and listening

The Daily 5

 This year, the initiative our Primary Team has taken on in regards to literacy, is implementing  The Daily 5 and CAFE. For those of you whom are unfamiliar with the 2, they are based on books  written by “The Sisters”, Joan Moser and Gail Boushey. These books are a great (easy) read and  gives you a wonderful basis and understanding of the 2 concepts, and how to set it up in your  classroom.  The Daily 5 is a framework that allows students to participate in 5 different activities  each and every day: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing and Work  on Words. CAFE is an acronym standing for C- Comprehension, A- Accuracy, F- Fluency and E-  Expanding Vocabulary, and are the strategies good readers and writers need to be successful. The 2  work very well and I feel, go hand in hand with one another. If you buy (or read) both books, they  give you examples of how your first few days will look like when you are setting up the program in  your classroom.

Since the 2nd week of school, I begun implementing these programs, one by one, illustrating what each Daily 5 looks like. We also created anchor charts that have been posted around the room illustrating the “expectations” both students and teachers have during our literacy block. Our chart is set up with the headings Students Do vs Teacher Do. Many of the activities are very similar in what the students and teachers are expected to do. Students, for the most part, are expected to work the whole time, remain quiet, work in one spot, get to work right away, and have fun! The teacher is expected to work with students at the guided reading table, conference with students, and watch/listen to how students are reading/writing.

The first concept I introduced to my class was Read to Self (independent reading). When we were practicing,
we were working on our stamina. This means, how long our brains are working without any breaks. Students should be reading for 20 mins each day, but first, we needed to build up our stamina, to reach the 20 mins. My students are quite fabulous, and really enjoy reading and it only took us 7 days to reach of goal of reading for 20 mins consecutively without any breaks. I encourage my students to have 2-3 books with them at their desk so if they finish a book before the 20 mins is over, they will have some more books at their desks so they can continue to read without stopping and interrupting others by getting a new book. Then, we moved  to Listen to Reading, which is when I introduced our class read a loud. I brought in all my old Goosebumps Books for our classroom library, and my students are now obsessed with them. So, we took a classroom vote, and our first read a loud book was a Goosebumps Book- The Ghost Next Door. Then, we moved on to Read to Someone. How I set this up in my classroom, was by practicing buddy reading. We discussed how it looks like when you are reading to your buddy and EEKK (Elbow to Elbow, Knee to Knee). We did this for 2 days, and built up our Read to Someone stamina of 20 mins. Then, I introduced Work on Writing, where students had the opportunity to write in the writing journals. We created success criteria for journal writing, so students knew exactly what was expected of them when they wrote in their journals. Finally, I taught a mini lesson on syllables, and our Work on Words introduction allowed students to add their names to the class word wall, and they needed to sort all the students’ names based on the number of syllables in each name.

    Once we went through all of the lessons and talked about what each Daily 5 looked like, as well  as modelling some of the CAFE strategies (such as Check for Understanding, Choosing Good Fit  Books and Go Back and Re-Read), we started our Daily 5 centres last week. The Daily 5 is all about  choice, but for the first week, I decided to split my class into groups and they rotated through the  Daily 5 centres so they could become familiar with the whole process. In our 100 minute literacy  block, my students have the opportunity to be engaged in the Daily 5. My students first start off with  Read to Self, where they read independently for 20 minutes. Then, I ring the bell which is an  indicator to my students that they need to quickly tidy up and meet me on the carpet. Then, I teach a  mini lesson on the CAFE strategy that we are currently working on. Sometimes, I read a read a loud  picture book to my students and either model how to use the CAFE strategy, or get students to help  me with it (so it becomes a shared reading and shared use of the CAFE strategy).     
Once the lesson is  complete, students are told which centre they will start off with. Students will rotate through 3 centres in one day. Last week, our centres were: Read to Someone (Buddy Reading) or Read to Someone (Guided Reading with Ms. Pryde), Work on Writing (journal writing which integrated with Social Studies- If I were a First Nations person, I would live… I would eat… I would travel by…), Work on Words (Read and Write the Room) and then I would finish off the 100 minute literacy block by reading a few chapters from our chapter read a loud book. Students spend 2 min at each centre. Next week, now that the students have had the opportunity to complete one complete rotation of our Daily 5 centres, students will be able to choose which centre they will go to and will keep track of which centres they would like to go to (a great Responsibility indicator, for students to make sure they go to each centre at least once, as well as keeping track of it on their own).

So far, it has been a success in my classroom and I look forward to seeing how it will look like in my classroom this week!