Daily 5: the power of choice

Posted by Jean Tipton - 30 September, 2015

D5_2_tiptonBy Jean Tipton, 3rd Grade teacher

Do you like to select reading material that interests you, or would you rather be told what to read? Most of us don’t even have to give that question any thought. We want to make our own decisions when it comes to choosing a book to read or a topic for writing. So it should be no surprise to hear that our children like to make their own choices, too. What would I like to read? Would I rather write a story or listen to a story now? These are the types of choices our students make with the Daily 5 program.

Daily 5 can sound a little intimidating at first. Do we really have to do all five things every day?

  • Read to self
  • Read to someone
  • Work on writing
  • Listen to reading
  • Word work

These are actually the available options. Each student will probably engage in two to four of these activities in any given day. Daily 5 serves as a framework to organize and manage language arts.

D5_3_tiptonWe start by teaching how to choose good fit books (my students can’t believe the giant winter boots I put on to emphasize a good fit) and how to work independently. Developing reading and writing stamina is an important early step. Once this is established, the teacher is able to work on skills with small groups, conference individually with students, and assess student progress.

Choice is a powerful teaching tool. It serves to motivate and build responsibility. Giving students choices matches well with our philosophy. We give choices daily to foster independence and responsibility.

These are the kinds of responses I hear when I ask my students why they like Daily 5:

  • I like that you get to choose what you want to do.
  • If you can pick your own book, you can pick the right book and a fun book.
  • I like getting to choose because you get to write what you want.
  • Reading to someone makes me feel really comfortable.
  • Some books are really cool and some books I don’t really want to read.
  • You get to go to the library and get books that are a good fit.
  • It wouldn’t be as good if you [the teacher] assigned the books because we need to be responsible and pick good fit books for us.

D5_tiptonTeaching language arts has come a long way since the days of basal readers and round robin reading groups. I don’t remember reading any stories that I actually enjoyed when I was in the third grade. I love it when a student tells me that they can’t wait until they can read because they have such a good book. Or they have another super idea for a story to write. Isn’t that the way to encourage a love of reading and writing? Our students are on their way to becoming lifelong learners and readers!


(If you're interested in learning more about the Daily 5 program, here is a good blog post from EdWeek that contains an interview with the two women who developed the Daily 5.)

Topics: 3rd grade, Academics, curriculum, Daily 5, English, Freedom, library, Lower School, Program, reading, teachers

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