Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reading about the Two Sisters and The CAFE System

Hey bloggers,

I don't remember where, but I had heard about The Daily 5 (I think from coworkers?).  Anyway, I read the book and gave it a try.  :-) 

Here's the truth of the matter, loyal readers: it really was as wonderful as promised by the authors as well as my colleagues.  :-)  The kids loved it, and I saw such growth from them.  I especially love their 5-week implementation guide.  The kids knew what we were doing each day.  At first, they were disappointed to only practice for 3 minutes, but it quickly grew into a competition to see how long they could sustain each activity (they were SO excited to try it for 6 minutes, 9 minutes, etc.  They actually GROANED when I called them back to whole group). 

I'm probably going to use The Daily 5 every year until a retire (a LONG way away).  :-)  This year, after I get The Daily 5 up and running (especially in light of all of the beginning of year assessments that have to be done), I want to try implementing the CAFE system.  I'm going to use the wee bit left of summer (not taken up by grad school and moving), to tackle this book.  

I have seen/heard rumblings in the blogosphere about Daily 5/CAFE book studies that are going on.  I plan to use my blog as a journal and take it one chapter at a time.  That way, when I'm ready, I'll have all of my notes about The CAFE system in one place.  Do any of you know where the CAFE book study is housed this summer?  (I love how Brenda from Primary Inspired kept everything so organized for the Guided Math book study!  Thanks!)  How do those of you that are using the CAFE system integrate it with Daily 5 and guided reading?  I'm sure that this question will be addressed in the book, also.  

So here I go with Chapter 1: 

Right away, I like the flexibility that teachers have with The Daily 5 and The CAFE system.  Kids, too, love the choices that are available to them. 

The CAFE book sets out to answer the following questions:
  • How do we organize all of our assessment data so we can make it work for us?
  • How do we keep track of each child's strengths and goals so we can maximize our time with him or her?
  • What about "flexible groups?"  Is there really a way to make them flexible?
  • How do we present strategies so that students can access them when needed and practice them until they are proficient?
Good news!  According to the 2 Sisters, the CAFE system is the answer (YAY!!!!).  I think that this system will be especially great as our classrooms become more and more diverse with students on all different levels.  The framework is simple (alway good!), and "provides a structure for conferring, a language for talking about reading development, and a system for tracking growth and fostering student independence" (p. 5). 

The CAFE System's Core Elements:
  1. The teacher keeps a notebook with a few key record-keeping forms, including a calendar, individual student conference forms, and strategy group planners. 
  2. Children meet with the teacher during literacy workshop conferences to be assessed, to received focused, explicit instruction, to set goals, and then to follow up on progress.  The student posts his goal on the class CAFE chart.  (Is this where I have seen the student's name on a post-it under one of the 4 letters of CAFE?)
  3. The teacher plans small-group instruction based on clusters of students with similar needs in one of the CAFE categories.  The groups are flexible and needs-based, rather than based upon reading levels.  The students may even be reading different books.  
  4. Whole-group instruction occurs in response to needs shared by many children, using read-alouds and other materials.   
The benefit of The CAFE system is that the teacher can spend more time on individual instruction instead of whole-class instruction.  

Wow!!!  After reading Chapter 1, I'm already SO excited to read the rest of the book (uh oh...this might just be more tempting than my homework for grad school...).  I'm looking forward to reading Chapter 2 and finding out about The CAFE Notebook and Record-Keeping Forms!         


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