Implementing Cafe in Your Classroom October 28 2010

I recently spent time in the sixth-grade classroom of my colleague, Mrs. K, who showed me valuable ways to use Cafe in an intermediate classroom.

"Many of the strategies in the book are geared for primary," Mrs. K said. "So I spent some time adjusting them to fit the needs of my kids."

I found Mrs. K's approach enlightening, illustrating more ways that the Cafe program can implemented in the classroom.

Tailored to Your Needs

Mrs. K keeps her Cafe materials in a large binder, separated into sections with colorful tabs.

  • Section One - The first section is a list of skills for each area, according to the Cafe book - Comprehension, Attitude, Fluency and Expand Vocabulary. Balancing the requirements of the district and state regarding reading instruction with the needs of her kids, Mrs. K has listed the concepts and skills to help her students master throughout the year.
  • Section Two - There are monthly calendars in this section that span from September through June. In each date of the current month, there are the names of students that Mrs. K will meet with as well as any particular skills or concepts to be covered with those students.
  • Section Three - In this section, there are individual pages for each student. When Mrs. K meets with each one, she takes progress notes as well as documentation of their conference.

The Cafe Wall

Mrs. K's binder directly corresponds with what I call her "Cafe Wall."The purpose of this large bulletin board is to keep everyone informed and focused on learning targets and their individual progress.

The photo to the left shows the "C" column, which stands for Comprehension. As students study and master skills in this area, Mrs. K adds to the bulletin board with a piece of blue paper and the skill written on it.

The three additional columns - Attitude, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary - are also part of this bulletin board. The "A" section is yellow, the "F" column is pink and the "E" column is green. Each section of the "Cafe Wall" is added to when skills or concepts are studied.

Reading Reflections

To keep track of individual progress, Mrs. K also incorporates Reading Reflections with her students. These informal assessments are done about once a week, and follow a structure set up by the teacher to help keep them focused.

The Reading Reflection frame contains the following elements:

  • This week, I have been reading __________ by __________.
  • This is a (genre) because ____________________________.
  • As I read, I focused on the strategy of __________________.
  • I used this strategy when ___________________ . It helped me to ___________________________________________.
  • My favorite part of the book so far is ____________________ .
  • It made me feel ______________________ because  ___________________________.
  • I made a connection to this text _______________________ because _____________________ .
  • As I continue reading, I plan to (use the following strategy)

This frame may seem limiting, but as I looked through her students' work in their Reading Reflection journals, I found that it gave students a structure that allowed them to be thoughtful and focused on their books. It appears that this frame helps keep them on task, using valuable reading strategies, and interacting with what they're reading.

I enjoyed seeing how the strategies in The Cafe Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment and Instruction by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser can be easily adjusted to fit the needs of everyone involved in a classroom.