Daily 5: Choices

There are 5 choices (hence the name!) for students during each independent work rotation. They are: Read by Myself, Read with Someone, Word Work, Work on Writing and Listen to Reading. Many teachers have some of these, if not all of these options within their classrooms already, so its not a far stretch. The BIG difference with Daily 5 is CHOICE!

In my classroom choice is a HUGE responsibility, and we take lots of time to successfully practice before giving them all of that responsibility! There is something The Sisters (the authors) refer to as the: 10 Steps to Independence. This is a step by step guide on how to introduce anything new (or old… if we need more practice, which we do, often!). I’ll make a post about this later, just know it will be EXTREMELY useful!

So… CHOICE.

There are SO. MANY. CHOICES. in my classroom:

  1. What rotation to choose
  2. What materials at that rotation to choose
  3. Where to choose to sit with my material

And sometimes they even get to choose who to do the activity with

Ok, ok, so it really doesn’t seem like a lot of choice when its just written like that… but let me give you an example of what goes on in a kids mind.

  1. What rotation to choose: I have 5 options… what do I want to do first? hmmm… well my friend went to read by myself, but I don’t really want to do that yet. I think I’ll go to word work first because I want to play a game.
  2. What materials at that rotation to choose: I’m over at the word work space trying to pick my materials, and there are 10 choices of games. Oh man! Do I want to pick a game I played yesterday? That was fun. But I saw my friend playing a game that looked really cool, and my teacher and I talked about me focusing on playing games with beginning sounds. So I think I’m going to pick that one!
  3. Where to choose to sit with my materials: I could go sit by my friend at the table, but with my game I need a lot of space to play, and yesterday I sat near them and they kept talking to me so I couldn’t play my game as much as I wanted to. So I think I’m going to go find a spot with a lot of space and that is a little quieter.

And now you’re thinking… SURE, yep, a 5 year old really is thinking like that… YEP! They really do!! You just have to teach them how to become the best learner they can be. Having each student understand what rotation they should focus on to help best meet their needs, what games/materials to choose in order to create a stretch learning goal for themselves, and pick a spot where they can be successful in their efforts; kids will start to think about how to BEST meet their own learning needs, even at 5!

I’m not talking miracles… it takes a LOT of work, a LOT of conversations, a LOT of practice and a LOT of patience. And some kids “get it” way before others do… and that’s okay! And to be honest… there have been a few of my students that just never “got it” 100% of the time. But the way you set up your room allows you to give them the opportunity to use training wheels if needed. If a student is not ready to choose his/her own seat (they keep choosing to be right next to a friend and talk the whole time, are off task, or are bothering the other student so they are off task, etc), then YOU have the CHOICE to take that responsibility away from them. I keep a desk in my room for those students who need some independent time, sometimes I choose that they sit in the desk, other times students self-select that seat, knowing that they need to be alone in order to focus on the task they chose.

But if you take choices away from students, you need to provide coaching, conversations, etc, in order for the child to earn that responsibility back again.

The goal is for all of your students to be able to make independent choice, and take ownership over their own learning.

Choice is HIGHLY motivating. Think about your own preferences. When you choose to read a book by yourself, where do you snuggle up to read? At a desk? On the couch? Laying down? With a pillow?

I know that when I read books, I usually find a nice comfortable seat (either a couch or bed, sometime a hammock outside if the weather is nice). If its a book I’m REALLY interested in (usually one I’ve chosen for myself, or sometimes a book someone has recommended for me that they think I would like) I will read for hours. Now we don’t have that kind of time in the classroom, but wouldn’t you want your students to want to choose to read a book in a comfy spot for looooong periods of time. Well I think seating choices is a big deal. I’ll be discussing this in a later blog post (Flexible Seating).

However, if I have to sit in a desk to read, I know that I get uncomfortable quickly… all bent over the book, my back starts to ache, my neck hurts and I can’t sustain reading for long periods of time, so I often give up quicker.

Sound familiar??

Our kids feel that way too!! But not just about where they sit, but about what they read/write/do! Choice within picking what they do to practice is HUGELY motivating! Of course, this is all guided by the teacher, having some coaching conversations if you notice that the student keeps picking the same things, or things that are “too easy”, or other patterns that you’ve noticed. Many teachers require their students to Read by Myself every day… I’m not one of those teachers, and I’ll tell you why: when I was in school I hated reading by myself. I used to choose a book, and just stare at it, never reading it, just staring, turning the pages every now and then, I hated it. I could have used that time to do something else that would have helped my learning, that was more motivational and more fun for me, I probably would have learned to choose Read by Myself and began to love reading sooner.

I do however require my students to write (Work on Writing) every day. And in your head you’re saying…. but, you JUST SAID that it had a negative effect on your reading… Yes, yes, but I feel like there are SO MANY choices within writing that it is different. This also allows me to confer daily with my students. I see what they are interested in writing about (that way I can make book suggestions, etc), what phonics skills they are using, improving and need to focus on, as well as their ability to re-read their own work to me. This is also such a big way that I build community and relationships within my classroom. I dedicate time to meet with every student, every day to confer with them one-on-one about their work and what they did well and what to focus on for next time. This is HUGE in my classroom and students LOVE this individual time each day with me.

Want to know about what I do with conferring or within my writing lessons? I’ll be posting about this later, promise!

Basically, I do 3 student choice rotations and there are 5 options to choose from. So students do not get to go to every rotation, every day. And that’s ok! Now you’re asking… how do you let students choose? Well… that’s for another post!

If you have any other questions/comments, please make sure to leave them below! Thank you for reading!

Published by KinderKidatHeart

Hi! My name is Katie Friedl and I have taught Kindergarten in Chicago for 12 years. It is not always easy, but its worth it! I will be writing about by tips and tribulations about teaching K in Chicago. Stay tuned to be inspired (hopefully... crossing my fingers) and probably even get a little giggle... at my expense I'm sure!

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