The lesson: Encourage literacy by giving children the time and structures to practice reading and writing every day.

The lesson: Encourage literacy by giving children the time and structures to practice reading and writing every day.

Two sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, authors of "The Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades," have inspired Walker Elementary teacher Ryan Jackson.

Every day, Jackson's first-graders happily rotate through a five-ring circus of literacy groups, practicing reading to themselves, to someone else, listening to a story, and doing spelling and word work.

Brightly colored posters and charts clearly define behavior: "Stay in one spot. X marks the spot." "Work the whole time." "I read. You read." "Try your best."

Throughout the classroom, engaged students are hard at work on their Daily 5.

As some of the 20 students spend the hour independently improving their reading and writing, their teacher instructs small groups.

Today's lesson includes the "Say What?" game. Listening carefully, students are ready to catch their teacher when he mixes up his words as he reads aloud. "Say what?" the reading group chants when they hear something misspoken. Then they read the sentence aloud, feeling proud that they can correct their teacher.

As Henry David Thoreau said, "It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?" Jackson's students are busy developing the habits of good readers and writers.

— Heidi Monjure