What is it about Daily 5 that I like? Well, in a word: Choice. In this system (and it is a system, not a program), students are offered structured choices for independent work time during reading. The organization system, created by The 2 Sisters, discusses a practical way to structure small and whole group reading instruction. It allows the teacher to work with small groups while the rest of the class does authentic, real-world reading and writing tasks that they choose. In addition, they have developed a no-fail strategy for teaching students to be independent. (Click here for their 10 Steps to Independence).
In my class I have tweaked it, of course, to fit our needs. First of all, we only have 3 rounds, or "choices" as we call them. Each choice lasts about 20 minutes. Students may only choose an activity once each day, except for Read to Self. They may choose it as many times as they like.
The choices in my class are Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Words, and Write about Reading. (The original model calls for work on writing, but since I already have a separate Writer's Workshop and I wanted students to respond to their reading, I changed this choice to Write about Reading).
I love this approach because children get to be responsible for their own learning. The power of choice is HUGE. When students have the opportunity to make decisions, it allows them to take ownership of their learning and it is a definite motivator. They want to do well because they chose their task. Their is intrinsic motivation built in.
Does it always work? Well, honestly, no. Does anything work 100% of the time? Sometimes we have our days when there are interruptions or lessons run long, or a million other things impose themselves on us. Some days attitudes need adjusting because of (who knows?) But generally, it does work. The students value their work because they have a say in what work they're doing.