Teachers often tell us how much they love Daily 5, but as they talk, we discover they are not describing a true Daily 5 classroom, but a variation of traditional centers/stations. Although Daily 5 might look a little different in each classroom, a Daily 5 classroom remains true to the non-negotiables or foundational elements.
What are the similarities and differences between a classroom using Daily 5 and a classroom using other management models? Here are a few things to consider.
- Community—Productivity is enhanced when students are part of a team working together toward a common goal. Daily 5 and center-based classrooms are both good at producing a positive sense of community.
- Trust and Respect—Although many management models require teachers to trust students as they do one-on-one conferring and work with small groups, Daily 5 takes this trust to a different level. A teacher using Daily 5 trusts students to not only complete necessary independent work, but to make many other choices. This sends a message that we believe they can be independent and productive, and it raises accountability to a much higher level.
- Choice—People are more intrinsically motivated to persist at a task when personal choice is involved. In a true Daily 5 classroom, teachers use the 10 Steps to Independence to train and prepare students to handle the responsibility of choosing what to participate in, where to sit, what to read, and what to write. A literacy block that assigns the tasks as students rotate from activity to activity, even if they are Daily 5 tasks, has moved from being a Daily 5 classroom to a centers classroom.
- Stamina Building—Teachers using Daily 5 slowly build student stamina using the 10 Steps to Independence. This stamina-building process generally takes 4–6 weeks. Children use their senses to understand and experience expected behaviors, discuss and model these expectations, and practice in successful gradual increments until the behaviors are stored in their muscle memory.
- Consistency—Daily 5 consists of five literacy tasks that encompass six language arts: reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and visually representing. They provide an authentic way for children to practice the behaviors and skills they need to become better readers and writers. The tasks do not change from week to week, requiring the learning of new expectations, but remain the same all year long. Classroom teachers who change activities weekly or monthly are using a centers-based approach.
We feel passionate about Daily 5 in its truest form because of its effect on engagement and motivation. When we walk into a Daily 5 classroom, we see class-created anchor charts posted around the room and hear a quiet hum of children engaged in working independently or in partners. We witness students with their eyes on self-selected text or putting pencil to paper as they work towards achieving their independent reading and writing goals. The teacher is providing differentiated instruction to small groups or individuals, and there is a palpable relaxed atmosphere as children work in a respectful and nonthreatening environment.
You have many choices for structuring your literacy block. Every teacher we meet is passionate about their job and the students they serve, whether they do it with Daily 5 or through centers. We want to be explicit about the differences so you can, with confidence, identify your chosen structure with accuracy.