August 22, 2012

Power Reading Workshop and The Daily 5

Comparing and Contrasting Two Models 

"How does Power Reading Workshop fit with the Daily 5?" 

I've been asked that question several times recently, so I decided to tackle it in a blog post. I feel fortunate to have been a part of a summer book study that examined The Daily 5, an outstanding resource for teachers written by "the sisters," Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. After participating in that book study, I feel more confident about exploring the similarities and differences between Power Reading Workshop and The Daily 5. Both programs empower students to become better readers by allowing them to select and read books of their own choosing. In both programs, reading instruction takes place through mini-lessons, independent conferences, and small guided reading group lessons.

My response is a bit lengthy, but this question is important and it deserves an in-depth answer. As a part of my response, I’ll also dig into the two follow-up texts, the sisters’ CAFÉ Book and my own Graphic Organizers for Reading: Teaching Tools Aligned with the Common Core.

Discovering the The Daily 5
I first read The Daily 5 shortly after it came out in 2006, and I was impressed by the sisters' inspirational writing style and by the program itself. Their book outlines the five components that make up their literacy program, describing a learning environment in which students are responsible for their own growth as readers. Their methods surpass the basic reading workshop approach described in many other books. However, I experienced two big stumbling blocks when it came to implementing the Daily 5 model. First, as a 5th grade teacher, I didn't have two or three hours to devote to literacy instruction, and I wasn't convinced that my students needed all five components. The other problem was that the examples in the book were from primary classrooms, and the strategy descriptions did not include enough detail for me to understand how to implement the program in an upper elementary classroom.

Step-by-Step with Power Reading Workshop
As much as I enjoyed the book, I didn't feel comfortable implementing reading workshop that year. However, I did continue to search for more information on the topic. I was inspired by two more books, The Book Whisperer and Igniting a Passion for Reading, but what I really wanted was a set of step-by-step directions telling me how to get started.

Eventually, I jumped in and started implementing the reading workshop model in my classroom. I tweaked some of the strategies I had been reading, and I developed some of my own, creating the program I now call Power Reading Workshop. Within just a few weeks, it became obvious that these methods were working extremely well and that my 5th graders were starting to love reading. After the first quarterly benchmark test, it was obvious that they were becoming better readers, too! It was at that point that I started writing down everything I was doing and compiling it to share with others. It took several years of working with the program and getting feedback from others teachers, but eventually I published Power Reading Workshop: A Step-by-Step Guide, the first reading workshop guide with easy, step-by-step directions.

Comparing and Contrasting Approaches

Let's look at the Power Reading Workshop (PRW) and The Daily 5 (D5) programs in more detail.
  • Both PRW and the D5 are based on students selecting and reading their own books, and both programs provide large blocks of time in the schedule for independent reading.
  • Both programs deliver instruction through mini-lessons, individual conferences, and targeted reading lessons in small guided reading groups.
  • PRW was designed for students in grades 2 through 6 who are already minimally proficient in reading. The D5 program can be modified for use with these age groups, too, but the examples given in the D5 book are from primary grade classrooms. 
  • PRW is a simple, streamlined, step-by-step approach for starting a reading workshop and adapting it to meet the needs of your students. PRW does include many components of the D5, such as reading to self, listening to reading, and reading to someone. However, word work and spelling are not a part of the PRW model because writing and spelling are often taught separately in upper elementary and middle school classrooms. Since PRW only focuses on the reading components of literacy instruction, it can easily be implemented in an hour a day. The D5 program includes five different components of literacy instruction, including word work and spelling, and it requires several hours a day to implement.  
Exploring the CAFE Menu System
The CAFE Book is the follow up to The Daily 5. Apparently, the sisters received so many requests for more detailed information that they ended up writing The CAFE Book. It's interesting to note that while they were writing this book, I was developing Power Reading Workshop to address the same need for step-by-step instructions! I just read The CAFE Book last month, and I LOVE it! To my amazement, this book has many of the missing pieces that I was looking for in The Daily 5. The CAFE Book outlines a literacy menu of reading strategies for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanded Vocabulary. I was particularly impressed with the detailed information about how to conduct individual conferences and guided reading groups, as well as their huge appendix of specific information about how to teach reading strategies. I highly recommend this book as a supplement to Power Reading Workshop, because the CAFE menu approach can easily be integrated into the basic Power Reading Workshop model after the first 10 days of instruction.

Graphic Organizers Aligned with the Common Core
The final piece of the puzzle can be found in Graphic Organizers for Reading: Teaching Tools Aligned with the Common Core. I've always loved using graphic organizers in my teaching, and when I began implementing reading workshop, I realized how easy it was to create mini lessons from graphic organizers. The book was first intended as supplement to Power Reading Workshop, but then I began learning about the new Common Core State Standards, and realized it could be much more. It occurred to me that all of the reading standards could be taught by using a graphic organizer to frame each lesson! I organized the chapters in the book to align with Common Core State Standards, so the mini-lessons provide an easy way to make sure you are meeting the standards for your grade level.

Complementary Reading Workshop Models
The way I see it, Power Reading Workshop and The Daily 5 have many similarities. Both programs are designed to empower students with a love of reading and to provide them with the tools to become better readers. The components of each program can be integrated together and adapted to meet the needs of your class. I encourage you to learn more about both Power Reading Workshop and The Daily 5 because both programs include strategies that will enrich your reading instruction.

Power Reading Workshop and Graphic Organizers for Reading are both available on, and if you click on those titles, you can read the reviews there. If you are interested in the digital copies of these books, you can get the digital versions for FREE when you order the print copies directly from my publisher. Just go to this page on Teaching Resources and follow the links.

I also invite you to visit the Reading Workshop page on Teaching Resources where you can find these books and other resources to guide you on your reading workshop journey.

Laura Candler, Teaching Resources


  1. Thank you for this post! I bought all 4 books this summer, because I heard they were all great. I haven't read yours yet because I just recently purchased them, but I have been wondering how/if the two models would work together. Now, I'm even more ready and excited to jump into your books and implement them. I better get moving: 2 weeks left!

    1. Thanks for your kinds words! I hope you enjoy using the reading workshop approach this year. My students really loved it!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I too teach fifth grade and I have tried a modifed daily 5/Cafe. I felt the same way you did about the Cafe book. After reading Daily 5, I had so many questions. The Cafe Book answered many of them. I have your books too and I also love Tanny McGregor's Comprehension Connections.

  3. I have used Laura's PRW for the past two years, and have just been amazed by the success of my students. I also have her graphic organizers book, which is an excellent compliment to the PRW mini-lessons! Before the book study this summer, I was not familiar with D5 or CAFE. As Laura mentioned, D5 did not seem like the "right fit" for my 4th graders, but when we got to the CAFE book, I was very happy to see how easily it would blend into the PRW I have had such success with. Laura, I am so appreciative of this post! Now I feel like I have the best of both programs! I am excited to see the results I'll experience this year.

    1. Wow! I am humbled by your response! Thanks so much for these kind words. How can I get it touch with you? Please email me at Thanks!

  4. Hi Laura, Will the PRW work for kindergarten? Or do you have something similar to PRW that you would recommend for five year olds?

    1. No, I would not recommend PRW with Kindergarten. I really think the Daily 5 approach is much better for that age group.

  5. I am using PRW combined with Daily 5 and CAFE. Both are full of fabulous ideas to enhance the Reading Workshop. Way to go!! I am a Candler Fan!

  6. Laura, this is such a nice explanation. I pinned it to my professional reading for teachers board. There are some advantages to any program and ins and outs of using them with different ages. For my money and time, your books are the most helpful, practical, and easiest to implement. I felt like I was reinventing the wheel with cafe, and there isn't enough time in the day for busy teachers. I like your books as they are so easy to understand that substitutes and paras can also use them, no course of study needed! Thank you for all you do for teachers!

    1. Thanks Carolyn! I also appreciate the nice review you wrote for the graphic organizer book on your blog! :-) Here's the link in case anyone wants to take a look:
      Graphic Organizer Book Review

  7. Hi Laura. I'm a 5th grade teacher of gifted/high achieving students. Even though I have bright kids, they still have a lot to grow and learn. Not all possess a love of reading when they enter my classroom, but very soon after they take their seats they become voracious readers.
    I have always used the Daily 5, and was introduced to CAFÉ’ by a colleague three years ago (she has 3rd grade gifted/high achievers). I spent that summer reading everything I could, and meeting with her to ensure I have a solid understanding. Soon I learned that CAFÉ’ really lends itself to the lower elementary grades, so I decided to do some further research and try to create a model that would work with my high achievers, and use some of the ideas behind CAFÉ’ since it is a great program. That’s when I found your site and I was thrilled. I think I’ve read EVERYTHING you had to offer, and purchased quite a few items that I found would work great with my group of learners. Since implementing Power Reading Workshop I have seen so much improvement in their approach to reading and going deeper within the text. Their love of reading is off the charts.
    Using some of CAFÉ’, a great deal of PWR, and incorporating strategies for gifted/high achieving students, I’ve been able to teach beyond well beyond the 5th grade CCSS. Even though very few of my students require daily reading support, they still need that push to dig deep. My one-on-one conferencing consists of in-depth reading discussion and communication with every single child. And because it is so individualized each student is getting exactly what he or she needs. I feel that PRW has given me great tools that I can draw from to help my students get out that shovel and dig deep! Thank you!


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