Occasionally teachers or even entire schools choose to have all students Read to Self at the same time, instead of including it as one of their Daily 5 choices, because they believe that silence is an advantage for students engaged in independent reading. Although creating a silent environment might be helpful to some extent, there are several advantages to including Read to Self in the Daily 5.
First, when Read to Self is a choice during the Daily 5 block, we are able to confer with students and coach them as they use the particular strategies on which they are working. If all children Read to Self at the same time we will be interrupting all tasks to confer with students.
Second, choice is motivating for students. In Daily 5, we ask students to think about whether they prefer to read or write first. Since we know they will engage in both reading and writing at some point, we trust them to make that choice.
And third, Daily 5 trains students’ muscle memory to get started right away, stay in one spot, ignore distractions and persevere, work quietly, and read the entire time. If we spend the necessary time and use all 10 Steps to Independence to build students’ stamina, they will be successful during Daily 5, even when all five choices are going on around them at once. Learning to read independently in the Daily 5 environment teaches students how to pick up a book and read elsewhere as well—at home, on a bus ride, in a classroom, in a library, or wherever they may be. After all, when children read at home, they are seldom in a totally silent environment. When we train children to ignore distractions and provide them with the opportunity to practice independent reading daily, we enable them to be successful—not only within the four walls of the classroom, but outside those walls as well.
If you have the option to include Read to Self in each round of Daily 5, give it a try. After they’ve had a few days to build their stamina and concentration, students engaged in independent reading of their choice will contribute to, rather than detract from, the quality of Daily 5 rounds.