Saturday, September 3, 2011

I want to do CAFE - now what?

My biggest struggle when I decided to do CAFE two years ago was where to start!  I do a great job teaching the framework of Daily 5, but  how do I start CAFE?
I spend over a week teaching and practicing Daily 5. When I felt they could go 15-20 minutes so I could conference with students - I started pulling students.

Here is what I've done this year and I've been very pleased:

  • First, I had my students take a STAR test.  This is part of the AR system and is one tool to level students for their reading level.  I then found a chart that correlates STAR levels to Fountas and Pinnell levels.
  • Our building has invested money into buying Fountas and Pinnell leveling kits. There are many brands out there, such as Rigby and DRA.  Use what you have.  If you have nothing - find a grade level text and do a running record (record fluency, accuracy, and comprehension.)
  • I have students read the passage aloud, doing a running record.  I do time them, just to get an idea of their words per minute.
  • The students finish the text on their own, and then I ask them to tell me about the story.  Fountas and Pinnell have their kits with three levels of comprehension. 
  • As students finish reading the text, I mark down how I think their accuracy and fluency was on the front of the packet.  Then, after their comprehension part, I'll jot a note or two about their comprehension.
I did this will all of my students.  I did not devle into finding instructional level (yet, but my instructional coach and principal REALLY want me to go there) because usually I find I have a good idea of what strategy I want them to focus on.

After I get them all done, I call them back one by one and  have them fill out a Reading Interest Survey.  I'm sure you can find them all over the net or in books about reading.  Find one you like, or create one.  I think mine came from the book The Reading Zone by Nancy Atwell.  I don't have it in front of me, so not sure.  Donalyn Miller also has one in her book The Book Whisperer.  Fountas and Pinnell have one too, but it's more of an end of the year reading survey.

The survey I use asks for strengths and weaknesses on it.  It's interesting to see what they put.  (I typically give 3 to 4 students the survey, have them start it and say "Answer what you can, if you don't understand a question, we'll go over it together."

After I go over it with them and talk about it, I tell them what I noticed about them as a reader.  I will pull their running record out and share.  For example, "You did a great job reading all the words, but I noticed you're fluency was stop and go.  At times, you read smooth, and then it would be word for word.  I thought you did a great retell of the story, so you understood what happened, but when it came to higher level comrehension, like understanding what the author's purpose was, you struggled a little bit.  What do you think?"  And the converstation contiues.  I then open up my conferring notebook and record their strengths and their goals.  I have a little basket with lots of fun post its and markers, and the students write their name and put their goal up on the CAFE board.

I hope this was helpful in starting CAFE.  Please let me know if you have questions!  This was my biggest challenge when  I started, and I feel so confident now about my placement. 


  1. Mrs. Lawson,
    I was reading your profile and saw that you teach at Mayflower Mill. That wouldn't be in Lafayette, would it??

  2. This is me- Mrs. Lawson.
    Yes, Mrs. Exner - I am in Lafayette, IN? Do you know the area? Small world!