Daily 5 Series: Read to Self

This next part of the Daily 5 Series will delve into some details around the five choices:
  1. Read to Self
  2. Read with Someone
  3. Word Work
  4. Listen to Reading
  5. Read with a Teacher/Teacher Time
Read to Self is something that is easy to implement since most kids have, at one time or another, sat quietly and read to themselves. I will not get into the amazing details that the Sisters do in their book (I can't type that much!). Instead, I will highlight what I consider to be the most important aspects of setting up and maintaining this choice.

Anchor Chart of Expectations
I had blogged about these charts a while back and will go into a bit more detail here. First, a picture of the chart:

I set this up with the students at the beginning of the year and we filled in each side together. The voice levels mentioned are discussed in detail in a previous post here, and I incorporated a voice level (or two) on each of these charts. These charts stay up all year long, so it is important to take adequate time at the beginning of the year to write them together and discuss each bullet point before it becomes part of the anchor chart.

I also incorporate a character asset to work on while working at that choice-- in Read to Self, it is "independence" that kids are working on, as well as increasing their stamina.

Building Stamina

The Sisters provide a wonderful system around how to build stamina and we used that same system in our class this year at the beginning, after long vacations, and/or whenever we may need a reminder.

We also conducted some role plays around students not showing and showing the appropriate behavior. This always provides a lot of giggles at first, but the importance of modeling the correct behavior cannot be underestimated.

My Daily 5 sessions are approximately 25 minutes in length, but we started the year in just 3 minute blocks as we built our stamina.

When we first practice, we all do Read to Self for several minutes, then reflect on what went well and what we could do differently, then practice again. Some of my more voracious readers hate these short reading times, but for those kids who are distractions, these short times are invaluable. We also start introducing "1 minute warning" during these early sessions, as well as the wind chimes to signal the end of the session.

What do kids read?

Our school is very fortunate to have extensive classroom libraries in each room, so my students are sued to browsing for books and choosing appropriate levels, most of the time. We also have Accelerated Reader at our school, so kids are invited to read any books that are "Just Right" that will help them move closer to their AR Goal. I have books in my library organized by genre and individually labeled by Guided Reading Level, so I oftentimes will guide students to appropriate levels at the beginning of the year and touch base with them throughout the year if I see them in a book that is too challenging/easy. I have found, however, that with AR, kids are much more motivated to choose appropriate books so they can do well on the comprehension quizzes and hit their goal by the end of the trimester.

Where can kids read? How does the room feel?

As you can see from my series launch video, kids are everywhere! I love it-- when kids are at their desks it always seems too serious and structured. I want Daily 5 time to be structured, but feel free.... does that make sense? I hope that there is a system and a structure in place so that students know the expectations, but that within that system there is freedom to be yourself and get comfortable when you do your work.
I always have the blinds open (and windows open, if the weather is nice enough), lights halfway off (so natural light is the predominant lighting source), soft guitar music playing (John Danley is a great Pandora station, fyi), and I am very open if kids want to lie down, spread out, sit up, stand up, however they are comfortable doing their work.

Read to Self always ends up being my students' favorite choice and setting it up well can ensure that all students are successful during this time and your room is conducive to learning and working.

Do you have any Read to Self tips and techniques that have helped your classroom? Please share in the comments below!


  1. I love this post! I also use a timer for our stamina, and the kiddos think it is soo exciting when they beat their previous reading record. I also like the chart idea because you can incorporate some fun math activities with your Daily 5 work.

    Thanks for sharing. I also love how comfy your reading area looks (I would have a lot of stamina there).

    The Crazy Adventures of a University Graduate

    1. Thanks, Amy! With a class that is nearly 2/3 boys this year, I had to find a way to keep motivation high, so I find myself using friendly competition, like timing ourselves as a class, more than in past years. I like it, though.... it keeps us on our toes :)

      Thanks for stopping by,