Do you feel I can implement this successfully with 5th graders or is it geared more to the lower grades?
DWS is very effective with grade fives!
Dr. Marshall first developed this approach for middle and high school students. It’s since been adapted for use with younger students in intermediate and primary grades––although the only real adaptations are in terms of vocabulary. At every grade level the teacher explains the same four levels, but chooses words that are suited to the age and ability of their particular students.
Choosing appropriate vocabulary to explain DWS concepts would be much like what teachers would naturally do when students learn about any new or challenging topic. For instance, students of any age might ask about global warming or other current events such as the HINI flu epidemic. At various grade levels, teachers would respond with slightly different explanations depending on the age/maturity level of their students.
The older the child the easier it is to teach concepts, simply because children become more capable in their thinking as they grow. You will find that it’s very easy to explain the four DWS levels to grade five students and to implement the approach as a whole with this age group; it will make a lot of sense to them.