The idea of giving up control and offering choice can be intimidating, yet time and time again, we’ve experienced the elevated engagement that comes when we let students choose which Daily 5 activity to do during each round.
If you and your students have worked hard to build behaviors of independence and the ability to read and write for extended periods of time, they are ready for this next step!
Here is one way you might dive in:
Gather the group together. Say, “We have worked hard to build our behaviors of independence and our stamina, so we are ready to choose which Daily 5 activity we want to do. This is a process and procedure that needs to go very quickly, so this first time, when I call your name, you will all choose Read to Self.”
Go down the class list in order, calling names. Each child should immediately respond, “Read to Self.” If they hesitate for a second, calmly and politely say, “I’ll come back to you.” We want to establish that this process needs to be quick, smooth, and efficient.
Once everyone has chosen, review the Read to Self I-chart behavior expectations and then release them to read.
After the round, call them back to the gathering space. “This time, you will get to choose from all of the Daily 5. You need to have your first and second choices ready, in case your first choice is full. Even though you get to really choose this time, the check-in needs to go just as quickly as it did when we all chose Read to Self.”
Begin with a different student on the list, but follow the same order. Students will get used to always being after a certain person, which helps with readiness. As names are called, students respond with their choice, and it is recorded. If there is a pause, calmly and kindly say, “I’ll come back to you.”
This time, release students by choice, waiting quietly about five seconds before releasing the next group.
“Word Work students may go.” (Pause)
“Listen to Reading students may go.” (Pause)
“Read to Self students may go.” (Pause)
“Work on Writing students may go.” (Pause)
The Read to Someone group is left, which we limit to six students each round. Ask one of the remaining children to choose a partner, which they should do quickly with eye contact and a kind tone of voice: “Will you please be my partner?” The person kindly responds, “Yes, thank you” and they go off to read together. Then ask another student to choose a partner. And finally, ask one of the two remaining children to choose. (Yes, there is only one partnership left. But having one student ask, “Will you please be my partner” alleviates the possibility of either student feeling like “I’m stuck with you because you are the only one left.”)
We can’t reiterate it enough. Choice is one of the most important elements of Daily 5. It can go quickly and smoothly, and is a simple way to elevate the engagement and enthusiasm of everyone in the room.