Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Modified CAFE Menu and Conferring labels + A new Linky!

I'm linking up with Workshop Wednesday from Ideas by Jivey for her July Workshop topic - setting up, before the kids arrive.

I'll be sharing a bit (and a couple freebies!) about how I do my Reader's Workshop this time because if you like it you'd need to prep before the kids arrive. I have a relatively non-traditional (but becoming more popular!) way of teaching reading, but I think it really works. I've heard a lot of good things from others about it too, so I feel like I'm on the right track.

It'd be crazy to talk about everything I do in this post, but I think a lot of the backbone to what I do stems from how I group, and my modified Daily 5/CAFE Menu.

Me with a mixed ability reading group -
from footage taken for an instructional video on teaching
using a reader's workshop! I'm famous! ;)
I do a combination of strategy groups (2-5 kids) that change consistently, mini-lessons, and one-on-one conferences. I do not have static leveled reading groups. The kids in my groups can be "high" or "low" or whatever...the common factor isn't their reading ability or the book they're reading. It's the skill/strategy they need to work on. When a kiddo masters a skill/strategy they move into a different group or I start a new one for them. Some kids are in two groups. Some groups I see once a week, some I see every day. Some kids move groups quickly, some don't. Sometimes we use a passage for "close reading," sometimes the kids have their good fit books.

It all goes back to the age-old Band-aid lesson. (Maybe you've seen a pin on pinterest about it!) The first week of school I "cut my finger" accidentally and then procede to hand out band-aids to the whole class and insist that the kids put them on their fingers. They think it's silly that everyone should get one. This leads to a discussion about how I want my classroom to be based on equity, not equality. Everyone gets what they NEED, not everyone is treated the same. Some kids need me to be more hands-on than others when it comes to mastering reading strategies. The kids get it, and I never hear a complaint about "how come you met with Austin 3 times and me just once?"

Whole group mini-lesson (keyword mini) on figurative
language, using Wonder by RJ Palacio.
In order to help facilitate the madness, I give every kiddo a CAFE menu and we highlight all over it as the year goes by. I also keep pretty crazy charts in my pensieve about who is in what group, and when I last conferenced with each kid. Every student is usually working on at least 3 strategies - the one that the whole class is doing as part of my whole group mini-lesson, the one they are working on that I identify during their one-on-ones, and the one their strategy group is working on. Occasionally these will overlap.

My intern conferring with a student one-on-one. So nice to
have another adult to double up on these. Sadly, I don't
think I'll have one next year.
Because I was new to 5th grade two years ago I basically scoured the internet for everything I could find about using D5/CAFE in the upper grades. In the end I discovered a couple 5th grade CAFE menus that were almost what I was looking for. (I honestly have no idea where I found those original ones.) Over the last two years I've made a lot of adaptations to the merged menu I made, and I think it is in a good place now for me.

DISCLAIMER: It is not formatted identically to the "sisters' menu." I made some executive decisions. I went with the A for Awareness instead of Accuracy (I think accuracy is part of fluency anyway.) I also added/expanded on several strategies to the menu that were missing(imho), and removed some of the ones that I thought were too young for older kids. 

Please check it out (freebie of course!) to see if you think you could use it or any aspect of it! 

I'm moving to a 3/4 multi-age next year and I think that even though I made this with 5th in mind I am going to definitely use it with my 4th graders, and maybe tone it down a smidge for my 3rd graders. (Any 3rd grade experts out there want to chime in on that?! I'd appreciate it!)

Anyway, even though this is more work, I would find it incredibly difficult to go back to the way I was teaching reading 4 years ago at this point. (Four 20-minute rotating leveled guided reading groups, all kids had the same book, etc.) And I think a big part of that is the value I see in my one-on-one conferences and the fluid grouping. I feel like I know my kids' needs much more deeply now. I am in no way saying that what other teachers are doing is not just as effective or valuable, btw! I just finally found a good fit for my style and my particular kids' needs!

I use a pensieve like the sisters recommend. I have conferring pages in the notebook for every student, but I often find it more convenient to take my conference notes on a sticky label and then put them into the notebook later. Here is a link to the document I use to print them out on the 14 per page Avery brand labels! It's just like the D5 provided sheets, just printed on labels. It beats hauling my pensieve around the classroom.

A brand spankin' new linky this week is Win, Loss, & Cost from Third Grade Galore and Digital: Divide and Conquer!

Win :)
My recent win would have to be our delightful vacation to Savannah and Tybee Island. Check out recent posts (or join me on instagram, people!) for more info on that.

Loss :(
I've been neglecting my TpT store a bit to focus on other teachery things and now I've got a bunch of half finished projects going on and I'm getting overwhelmed by it all! I need to sit down and finish one soon!

A Thing of Cost $
To tie in with the Workshop stuff. Here is an example of something I might have my kids do at the teacher and independent stations to practice some of the CAFE skills! Check it out!

That's it for now! I'm looking forward to seeing all of the other workshop ideas! I'm always looking to improve how I do things, and I know I'll need to make some adjustments for 3rd/4th next year. I do a reading, math, and writing workshop in my room, so this linky was made for me!

And don't you think Win, Loss, & Cost is pretty fun too? Looking forward to seeing everyone else's!


  1. I love what you are doing with your students. I have found that each teacher has to find their own niche and it appears you have. The funny thing is that our niches sound very similar. I'm curious, do you use any common text at all? I do approximately 45 minutes of independent reading and conferring time using the text selected by the child. But then I do 3 rotations of small groups and often use common texts during that time to cover SS information or a specific text that I feel is needed for whatever reason. In a nutshell, I'm wondering if text is totally student selected in your classroom. Great post!
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. Thank so much!

      I use common texts occasionally in my strategy groups. We'll do a common passage for close reading for example. Or sometimes I will use a picture book as a mentor text with a small group because it is such a good example of the strategy/skill I'm teaching that group.

      And of course the whole-group mini-lesson will sometimes bleed into a strategy group and we'll all have the same book for a bit.

      But like you, all conferring is done using the kids' good fit personal choice books!

  2. I am loving your Daily 5!! I have the same question as Brandee- in your groups, do you use a common text? How do you teach the mini-lesson on that strategy? I do this a bit in my room, and just choose a text that EVERYONE in the group could read (meaning, my lowest of the group...) and it seems to be okay for everyone. Thanks so much for linking up! :o)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow me on Facebook!

    1. I didn't really specify in my last comment that most times the kids will bring their own good fit book to the strategy group and use it as part of the lesson. I may have one copy of a picture book that I use to model a strategy and then I might have them use their books to do the same for me. So, if we're discussing blending and chunking or rising action, climax, and/or denouement then I might use a book that I've already read as a read-aloud as my model (or a section of a fun, new book) and then have them outline the plot of their current or most recently finished good fit book.

      The biggest change for me for reading groups aside from how I group is that 4 years ago I found myself choosing books for my groups (mostly related to our SS or Science units) and then seeing every group every day and covering a book in detail throughout that week. Sometimes I got more caught up in whether I covered the CONTENT of the book and not the whole point of using the book, the SKILL. I still integrate Science and SS, but it isn't the focus at all.

  3. I love your band-aid lesson. I have heard of it before, but had actually forgotten about it. I'm going to be stealing it for next year.

    Thank you for sharing how you run your Reading block. I love reading new tips and ideas from fellow teachers. Thank is one of my favorite parts of blogging.

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  4. I love the Band-Aid lesson, too! I've never been quite sure how to explain to my kids why some groups meet more often or do different work, but that's a very simple way of explaining it. Even my kinder-kids can get it. Thanks for sharing!

    Amanda @
    Teacher at the Wheel

  5. Hey Nick,
    I'm currently teaching Fourth, but I taught 3rd for ten years. I might be able to give you some suggestions for your CAFE menu (which I'm going to use next year, btw!). There's a lot on that menu for the third grade mind. You could pick three BIG topics from each column and stick with those. The language is a bit much for them as well. You could try in your comprehension section to do something like
    *Reread your story
    *Make Connections
    *Visualize your piece

    HTH, Gary

    1. Thanks! I'll take any suggestions you might have! I use the menu to guide my reading groups all year long, so I actually need there to be more than three strategies in each column though. I used the original CAFE menu when I taught First and Second grade a few years ago, and I think I may tone my 5th grade menu down to closer to the verbage and complexity of the primary version!

      I hope you get good use out of the menu!

  6. I have never heard of the band-aid illustration, but I LOVE it!

    I love your adaptation of the Daily 5/CAFE and have a couple of questions: What is your schedule like: how long do you spend on reading/writing each day? How many students do you typically have? I'm going to have 27 5th graders next year and am worried about how to rotate them all through centers (and where to put 27 10-year-olds!)

    Joy in the Journey

    1. Thanks so much!

      I've done this with 25 5th graders. As far as my schedule, I have about an hour and a half total for reading and then an additional 30-40 minutes for my Writer's Workshop. During reading time I have 2 thirty minute blocks (this is when I pull kids for both one-on-ones and strategy groups...the kids are rotating between Read to Self and one of their other Daily 5 choices), as well as two 10ish minute whole group mini-lessons (often incorporating a mentor text.) I also devote about 10 minutes to a read aloud each day.

  7. Nick,
    Thanks for linking up with us today.

    The BandAid analogy is great. Teaching kids that fair and equal aren't the same is really tough. I talk with my kids about it all the time (and my own children). I have an advantage because I teach in small groups so most kids are getting a lot of attention anyway.

    I like your radio commercial cost. Very cool and I like the possibility of an extension being kids actually creating the commercial through audio or video.

    You're blogs looks good too. I don't think I had seen an updated version.

    thanks again,
    Digital: Divide & Conquer

  8. Wow! You had a lot to share with us. I really like the Band-Aid example. I think I will be using it next year. I need to read more about the way you run your reading. I'm trying to find something that works for me. Also, don't worry about the TpT store. I'm feeling the same way! Thanks for linking up.

    Third Grade Galore

  9. Hi Nick, I really enjoyed your post. The bandaid lesson is a great idea.
    This new school year I will be taking on ELA and SS with my partner teacher. This is going to be year 3 for me as an educator and I'm looking for ways to really improve my reading instruction. I will definitely be looking into daily 5 and seeing how you modified the menu to help you. Have a good one!

  10. So many great ideas. I love the bandaid lesson and will be adding that to my beginning of the year plans for sure. I have struggled to fit in individual conferences, mini-lessons and guided lessons...still working on it, but I really appreciate all the info you shared with how it works in your class.

  11. Loving the Band-Aid lesson and will use your menu. Love that it's geared to the older grades...I teach fourth.



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