The first day of choice is a very special one. Students have NO idea that choice is even an option and I do a very dramatic reveal. “Friends, you all have been working SO hard for the last 6 weeks to become better readers and writers. I have watched you put first things first to work hard and focus on your learning. Today is a very special day because it is the day where you will start to make the best reading choices for you! Today will be your first day of Daily 5 choices.” <insert cheers, clapping, and giggles>
Do you do a mini-lesson?
Our Daily 5 block typically starts with a quick review of our high-frequency words and then, a mini-lesson. (Note the first week of choice, I do not do any mini-lessons. I only introduce choice, reflection sheets, and our SMART Board chart).
After the first day of choice, I pick-up our normal mini-lessons. Last week we were learning all about main idea. We used Simply Creative Teaching’s Main Idea Mystery Bags to launch our study of main idea! Each bag contained 4 details and students had to infer the main idea of the story being told. In between each round of choice, we pulled the details out of 2 bags!
How do you mange choices?
What are students doing while you are teaching Guided Reading?
When students arrive at Word Work, they have several choices. This week our choices included blends pocket chart sort, pyramid writing, super sentences, versatiles (short vowels), and a write-the-room (short u words). We also really enjoy Big Book Hunts (looking for specific grammar and phonics skills), as well as, Sentence Scramble. To read more about Word Work, read this blog post.
After students listen to their book, they head back to the Listening to Reading station and grab the colored folder that matches their reading group. In each folder is a differentiated graphic organizer. Right now, we are working on quick summaries so I pulled out our Book Reviews. This is the yellow graphic organizer. The green group (below grade level) has students illustrate their ideas and the blue (above grade level) includes an additional section asking for adjectives to describe the book!
Work on Writing is the very last choice I introduce. I know the Sisters recommend introducing it as the 2nd choice, I hold off until I have explicitly taught my 1st graders how to write in their writing journals, introduced a visual rubric, brainstormed ideas for writing, and know that they are able to write 3-4 sentences independently. This year, Work on Writing was introduced during Week 6, one week before launching choice. Therefore, it is still a *very* popular choice! During our Work on Writing time, students apply the skills they have been learning in Writing Workshop (Narrative Writing right now), as well as, write about their reading.
As students make each of their choices, they color the coordinating day’s label. As you can see, this Monday we only made it to 3 longer rounds. Many days when I only make it to 3 rounds, I alternate meeting with my 2 above-grade level reading groups.
At the very end of our Daily 5 book, we do Plus/Delta for the day. This gives me the chance to quickly reflect with every student and plan with students who struggle. I give students the plus and delta sentence stems (Plus – Today I learned… Delta = Tomorrow I need to…). Students are welcome to deviate, but it allows students to complete the Plus/Delta independently. Honestly, we do this process *quickly* and quietly. As soon as students finish, students grab their snack and gather on the carpet for a read-aloud. All-in-all, reflection in the early weeks (Weeks 1-4) takes 7-8 minutes. Once we become faster at it, we can streamline the process into 4-5 minutes. Boom!
So, give it to me straight – The Nuts and Bolts of Choice
Friends, this is the first week of choice. This year choice took a few weeks longer and it wasn’t until Week 9 (last week) that we really hit our stride with it.
- Choice is a privilege. Students may lose this choice when they are not working to become better readers and writers.
- During the first week of choice, I introduce NOTHING new. Every Word Work choice, Listening to Reading choice, Work on Writing choice has been previously introduced and practiced. (Note – the words for Work Word and the books for Listening to Reading do change, but the skills/activities do not.)
- In between each round of choice, we meet on the carpet for a mini-lesson. I am flexible in the mini-lessons for the first week because sometimes we will need to reflect on the round if it didn’t go smoothly. Use the power of group brainstorming to make choice go more smoothly.
- Be POSITIVE. Choice is a huge step and there will be *many* things to fix. Pick the most important battles and make a list of the rest. Highlight and focus on the positive. All students want to be the student who wants is bragged on…so brag!
- Even in Week 3 of choice, we are still tweaking the choice process. Every group of friends will be different…but with the right amount of practice and modeling, students are capable…even 1st graders. Have faith and take deep breaths!
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