26 June 2014

The CAFE Book - Chapters 2 and 3

Chapter 2 - The CAFE Notebook and Record-Keeping Forms

Keeping records about children's progress is something I've not done particularly well to date, especially anecdotal records, so I found this chapter really helpful. It starts with the story of how the authors found a system and format that worked for them, and gives me lots of ideas and resources and freed to find what will work for me and my students. Initially it talks about where to store all these great notes, and then it gets on to what is inside.

The first section of the notebook is really big picture stuff. It includes things like a calendar (to schedule student conferences & small group meetings), a form for tracking those conferences by student (to make sure everyone gets the help they need and no-one gets missed out), and a form for tracking groups of students working on the same goals/strategies. The bonus is that pdfs of all the forms are provided on the accompanying CD.

The second section has dividers for each individual child with their personalised copy of the CAFE menu and Reading and Writing Conference Forms. Looks like I'm going to be looking for some kinds of binder that will become my "notebook".

Chapter 3 - CAFE Step-by-Step: The First Days of School

This chapter does just what the title says. It provides a step-by-step guide to introducing the CAFE to students, especially in the early days of school.

The first item introduced is "C" for comprehension, along with the definition "I understand what I read". The first strategy introduced is "Check for Understanding" and the authors suggest using picture books for these lessons.

After a break, maybe a time of building stamina, another strategy from a different section of the menu is introduced, using another picture book. The example give is "A" for accuracy, using the Cross-Checking Strategy.

Depending on the classroom schedule, another heading and strategy might be introduced later in the day, such as "Tune In To Interesting Words" under the "E" for expanding vocabulary section.

Each time a strategy is introduced it is named explicitly for the students and posted on the CAFE Display board. Each time a strategy is reviewed, the display is referred to.

Over the first few days, the authors recommend four core strategies be taught and reviewed several times, with repeated modelling and anchoring to the CAFE menu. Using the Daily 5 structure, students will have lots of opportunities to practise the strategies as they build stamina for working independently.

The next part of the CAFE program is moving to Individual Conferences, and using assessment to inform instruction. A seven step process is provided to guide the reader through this. An example of what each step might look like is provided. Finally, some encouragement for those of us who are a bit apprehensive of trying new things - you don't have to get it perfect the first time. It won't hurt students to practise a strategy they are already good at, and you can always give them something new at the next conference. It's OK for the teacher to learn along the way too! :)

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