The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Launching the Daily CAFE

Anyone who has been reading my blog for more than a year may recall past posts about the Daily Five and CAFE. I have been working on implementing these literacy instruction frameworks over the past several years, but one big change this school year is that the entire building has adopted the Daily Five framework. Additionally, our reading interventionist teachers will be spending a part of each morning in the different classrooms, assisting with reading groups, whole class instruction, and mini-lessons. With today being the first Monday of the school year and still fairly early on, all things considered, I decided it was time to start launching the Daily CAFE in my room.

I had all of the students come to the carpet and we took some time to discuss the components of the CAFE: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Each day, students will be expected to engage in independent tasks that will help them develop these fundamental literacy skills. The tasks are known as the Daily Five: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Write, and Word Work. In my classroom, we tend to compress these down to three tasks: Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Writing. Students will do Word Work as a part of their writing instead of as an entirely separate component, and they will listen to reading every day during our after-lunch read alouds.

After discussion the components and reviewing expectations, we started with one of the independent tasks: Read to Self. I had the students share what they should be doing during this time (stay in one spot, read quietly, give other people space, focus on actually reading) and what I should be doing during this time (work with small groups, conference with individual students). Then I modeled some ways that students could choose to read, showing good examples and what we like to call non-examples. For the good examples, I did exactly what expected: I chose a book, I found a spot to read, I stayed where I was, and I read to myself without distracting others. For the non-examples, I did things like holding the book upside-down, falling asleep, staring at the wall while holding the book open, flipping through the pages and, with the permission of a student helper, leaning up against another person or reclining against him, reading his book and getting in his way.

All of the students agreed that the good examples were much more desirable. Then I gave them just five minutes to read to themselves so they could see what it looked like, sounded like, and felt like. Tomorrow we will review these expectations and work on building our stamina. The goal is for students to be able to read to themselves for anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes without needing redirection from a teacher or even a classmate. Then I and the reading interventionist can do our jobs of conferencing and working with small groups. Before reading tomorrow, I will have some students model examples and non-examples (making sure that they always show an example last) so that everyone can remember what they should be doing. We will spend quite a bit of time building these routines before introducing other components so that students can ultimately do any of the independent tasks on their own without any interference. Then we will have our Daily CAFE fully implemented and literacy instruction will be able to just take off this year!

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