Okay, on to CAFE. I LOVE Boushey and Moser’s The CAFE Book, a companion to The Daily 5. You can read more about The CAFE Book in this post and the Daily 5 in this one. If you want to revolutionize the way you teach reading, go order both books right now. Seriously. Do it.
So I’ve been using The Daily 5 and CAFE for many years now and have learned to tweak it a little more each year to suit my needs. In the post I linked to above about CAFE you’ll see the old way I used to do my workstations using a 12×12 pocket chart. Actually, I began this year doing it that way. And it is a great way to keep track of what students have completed during their workstations, but it still didn’t give me the kind of differentiation I wanted for my students. I have a very broad range of readers this year, so I really wanted a way to maximize their workstation time. So instead of the pocket chart, I came up with individual CAFE menus based on each strand.
Here is how it works:
The first six weeks are devoted to assessing students’ reading and teaching them specific expected behaviors during a reading block (yes, it takes that long). This is the time I really get to know my students as readers. Once I have assessed them, I decide which reading strand (comprehension, accuracy, fluency or expanding vocabulary) they will need to focus on first. Students get to know each strand well and can articulate their meanings by the time they begin (one of the reasons I love CAFE so much…students are able to articulate their strengths and the areas they need to improve on). They put their name on stickies and we physically place them under the strand they are going to be focusing on:
Once they know where they are and what they need to improve on, I go into teaching specific strategies. Students write these strategies and we place them on our CAFE board:
I have four CAFE menus, one for each of the 4 CAFE strands. Each menu has nine boxes. They look kind of like tic-tac-toe boards:
DoDDS has adopted the Reading Street series by Scott Foresman for reading instruction. To get the most out of a unit, I spend two weeks on one story. This is nice because it not only allows me to get a lot more out of each story, but it also gives me two weeks to prepare the next CAFE menus and lessons.
As a whole group we focus on the reading, vocabulary and language skills that are targeted for the story we are reading. The top row of boxes on every CAFE menu are the same and centered around these specific skills. The bottom six boxes are specific to the reading strand that students are trying to improve in. When students finish the top three boxes they go onto the bottom six. Students complete an activity in a box during ONE 20-25 minute workstation time (this is why you may see duplicate activities listed). They color in the box once they have completed that workstation.
Note: Activities will change based on if the text we are reading is nonfiction or fiction. I have two separate CAFE menus saved just for this purpose.
Depending on the activity, each CAFE group has a basket that contains items that students in that group may need in order to complete activities on their menus:
Now let’s dive into each menu separately:
Not all of my students need help in comprehension. Students who need help with knowing the words (accuracy) work on that first and later in the year focus on comprehension. Advanced readers who have no problem with comprehension usually need to work on expanding their vocabulary and reading more appropriate level texts. Students working on comprehension know the words and may even be quite fluent, but they lack understanding in what they are reading.
Activities listed on the comprehension menus vary, but here are a few that I use:
-This AMAZING Comprehension Notebook by Jodi Southard. This is one of those TPT purchases where you jump for joy after you download it because it is just that wonderful! I only have these for my students struggling with comprehension. They work on them during 3 different workstations and I check them after the 2 weeks (but usually I check on them periodically throughout the two weeks).
-graphic organizers for various comprehension strategies
-activities based on a comprehension skill. For example, when I pull my comprehension group, we may discuss visualization. So an activity on their menu would be to visualize a particular part of the story and illustrate what they saw in their mind, along with a brief description.
-Reading to someone using Boushey and Moser’s method (sitting EEK, “I heard you say”, etc.) Students would do this with another student in the “comprehension club”.
-Taking Reading Counts tests (similar to AR) over the story we read as a class or another one of their choosing that is an appropriate level
I have four accuracy students this year, but one of them is more emergent than the rest, so he has a different menu than the others since he has more basic skills to work on. The rest of my accuracy students need help with learning sight words, word families, using word attack strategies we’ve talked about in small group, vowel and consonant chunks, etc.
Activities on Accuracy menus:
-These AMAZING Chunking Flashcards by Resources Designed With the Little in Mind! (You can see them in the above pic with the baskets) Holy moly, these are wonderful! They come in full page, 1/2 page, and 1/4 page sizes, which I LOVE. I used the 4th page size and made two sets of flashcards on rings for my accuracy students to use. You can use the bigger sizes during mini lessons with the small groups!
-word wall spinners
-students work on their own personal set of sight word flashcards they have on rings. These are determined by periodic assessments based on Dolche word lists.
-word family spinners
-rereading guided reading books (my students read these in small groups and take them home to practice)
-listening to reading
My fluency students are good with accuracy and are usually on the verge of stepping into expanding vocabulary, but still need some help making their reading flow and sound natural. If a student has trouble with both fluency and comprehension I ALWAYS start them out in comprehension first and later with fluency.
Activities found on fluency menus:
-These AMAZING and FREE peer-to-peer fluency data forms by Jen Ross to track students’ words read per minute! (Read her blog post on how exactly she uses them in her classroom….seriously awesome)
-plays/reader’s theater – this group LOVES these! And I can change them according to holidays and special events as well.
-reading to someone else in the “fluency club”
-listening to reading
-poetry – I let my fluency kids (if they want to) choose a poem from a book of poetry in our classroom library and practice it during their workstation time and free time. They may read it aloud to the class using good fluency at the end of the two weeks.
-rereading a part of our story that has dialogue to another “fluency club” member
This group is actually my largest group this year. I have a lot of high readers, so I want to make sure they are challenged! This specific group is beginning to explore more challenging chapter books, nonfiction texts, and searching out new and interesting vocabulary they come across as they read. This group is usually already familiar with the vocabulary words that go along with our story from Reading Street, so I have them working on finding their own vocabulary words out of the books they are reading during read to self and in our literature circle (book club) or small group (I start literature circles with second grade in the second semester or 3rd quarter).
Activities found on expanding vocabulary menus:
-Working on this AMAZING Vocabulary Notebook by Jen Ross! Did I say AMAZING? If you are using CAFE, you MUST get this for your expanding vocabulary group! It is wonderful, and my students love doing them. Basically it is a mini dictionary students create that contain words THEY find in their reading throughout the year. They define it, use it, rate it, and draw it. By the end of the year they will have their own catalog of new words. PERFECT for this group of students. At the end of the two weeks I pull my expanding vocabulary students and check the new entries they have done. This product is great because there are 3 different versions to choose from. I use the 3 entries to a page to save paper, and the kids do just fine with it. I even made one for my son who is in 1st grade, and he uses it in his class.
-Once students have a substantial amount of new words in their vocabulary journals, one of their activities will be to use some of them in various types of writing. I want them learning new words, but applying them as well.
-Exploring words with multiple meanings by creating webs of words they find that have more than one and illustrating them.
-Working on higher level questions that go along with the chapter book we are reading in literature circle group (book club) – we talk about fat vs. skinny questions and they have places to write some of these for the group to discuss.
Putting it to Work
So what exactly does a reading block in my classroom look like? Well, with the exception of the first and last days (these are devoted solely to spelling and word study because I use the Words Their Way program which uses differentiated spelling word ‘sorts’ based on word structure and introducing/testing can take awhile), it goes something like this:
8:30-9:00 Journal writing/writer’s workshop
9:00-9:10 Mini lesson (CAFE strategies or skills that go along with our story)
9:10-9:35 Workstation (Students choose which block on their menu to work on, but they must work on it the entire time. Meanwhile, I am pulling small groups. If students don’t complete their activity in the block they chose during the workstation time, they may work on it again during the second workstation.)
9:35-9:45 Mini lesson
My students typically get through about two workstations a day. This is a lot less than the classic model of Daily 5, but I am totally okay with that because I feel like those two times are very meaningful for my students. As far as parts of the menus that I grade go, sometimes my students complete activities that are on papers attached to the CAFE menus, and other times they are done in their ELA interactive notebooks. It all just depends on the skills being taught. I try to save paper as much as I can!
I am still feeling my way through using these menus, but so far I have been happy with how they have worked. My students’ parents see everything their child has worked on during their workstation time. Everything is right in one place for students to keep track of instead of loose papers everywhere. I only have to grade reading and ELA pieces every two weeks. It’s all worked out quite well. I feel like I truly am meeting my students’ individual needs. They are able to take control of their own learning, which is one of my main goals for them.
I’d love to hear how you use CAFE in your own classroom!