Today, I finally got it. The lesson that was supposed to be learned from this writing experiment: writing every day is tough! It dawned on me why it is so darn difficult for students to work on Daily 5 every day without getting off task. Their options, which seem infinite and time consuming to us, are really freaking hard when it comes down to it.
Work on Writing:
It's hard for me to think of something to write about every day. I can look all day long for something to write about, and come up with absolutely nothing. I want to write something good, something powerful, something people will love and comment on endlessly, but it rarely happens that way, and I'm sure my students feel the same. Not to mention, I'm pulling from 22 years of things to write about. My students are pulling from seven, half of which they cannot even remember. No wonder they seem to never have anything to write about.
Read to Self:
I think as teachers we all fantasize about having time to read for hours on end, especially a book that does not need to be studied or evaluated. I know I dream of having that kind of free time. But let's face it. I'm in the middle of three different books right now, and after about an hour or two, my body gets tired of being in the same position and my eyes start to hurt and I have to find something else to do. For kids, that time limit is maybe `10-15 minutes; anything else is an eternity to them. And they're supposed to pick just one book? Come on.
Read to Someone:
This always sounds so much more fun than reading alone, but it's never quite as awesome as we think it will be. Often, our buddy is at a different reading level than we are, so we are either dragged down by their slow speed and comprehension or lost to their superior skills. Either way, a student will lose focus. And when a student loses focus, they'll start to mess around, and with a buddy so close by....well, we all know what happens then.
Yes! It is super fun to write words on markerboards or with magnets or with chalk or with stamps or whatever...but really, how many times and ways can you play around with the same words without getting bored. Before long, you're drawing pictures on the markerboard, making designs with the magnets, or there is ink all over your fingers and work space. And word work has gone down the drain.
Listen to Reading:
Great idea for helping with fluency and adding some extra excitement to stories. But when the words are being read to you, it leaves your eyes free to roam...onto one distraction, then another, then another....wait, what page should I be on?
So maybe the kids are right. Daily 5 really is hard! I'm not going to be the genius that comes up with the new and better way to do things, but I'm just saying: I get it now. I see where they're coming from. And they're right.