Ok. I'm off my soapbox now. On to the questions...
1. Do you follow a set implementation schedule with your kids or do you follow the one laid out by the sisters?
After two years of doing Daily 5 and one full year of CAFE, I have modified the implementation schedule given by the Sisters to fit my students and my needs. I anticipate this changing this year as well, because all students in my building did Daily 5 last year. I would like to think their stamina is higher than 5 minutes. I always start Daily 5 on the first day of school. I always teach the anchor lessons, such as I-PICK good fit books, three ways to read a book, coaching or time, ways to read to someone, etc. These are all very important lessons that will increase your students' success in Daily 5.
2. How do you teach your 4th graders to read the pictures, and how is this differerent from teaching the younger kids?
I don't think actually teaching the fourth graders to read the pictures is different from teaching the younger kids, but the outcome is different. Typically for younger students (Kindergarten & 1st grade especially) reading the pictures is reading the book. I'm even teaching my two year old to read the pictures in his books. To the older students, reading the pictures should aide in accuracy and comprehension. Students should use the pictures to make sure the words they are reading and what they are understanding make sense.
3. I am wondering what kind of writing activities do you have your 4th graders do?
At the beginning of the year, when launching Work on Writing my students brainstorm topics they can write about during their writing choice. This anchor chart is kept up in my classroom all year for them to refer back to if they are ever stuck. I am also going to try to implement some Six Traits writing this year. Our building bought each grade level one of the Six Traits kits from Scholastic and I have been looking over it this summer. We also have building wide writing activities for each month. I may also have students write their readers responses during this time as well. Work on Writing is the only writing workshop time my students have built into the day. I will admit that with writing not being a tested subject, it has fallen to the wayside quite a bit.
4. How many rotations of Daily 5 do you do?
First, I don't think I have mentioned that I do not launch Listen to Reading. We do not have enough time, and I feel my students get what they need from listening to me read aloud and Read to Someone. During the last two years, I was only able to have two daily rotations. This worked out fine, the only rules I had were you could not do the same choice twice in a row, and you could only read to someone twice in a week. With my new schedule, it looks like we will have time to do three rotations a day (YAY!!)
5. I had a question about the beginning assessment that you give the students before starting CAFE. Is there a certain assessment that you use to help you encompass comprehension, accuracy, fluency and vocabulary?
In the past, we have used the STAR test for our reading assessments. This did not offer me any information other than the students' reading levels (which, in my opinion, were not very accurate). This year, we are using the Gates McGinitie assessment. From what I have been told, this assessment does offer insightful information about comprehension and vocabulary. We are receiving training on this at our PD in two weeks. What I have done in the past, and what I will continue to do, is gauge this during my individual conferences with students. I usually have them read a page or two, check for comprehension and their ability to use context clues on unknown words and take it from there. While I do have students that have goals in all four areas, I will say most of my students end up with comprehension and vocabulary goals.
I hope that this helped answer some of your questions! Please feel free to comment or e-mail me if you have more!