Friday, September 16, 2011

Cafe Questions

This is my third year trying to implement the Cafe model of guided reading, and although I love many aspects of it, I still have some questions. I used to teach guided reading using Fountas and Pinnell's model, which I know works based on research, but also feel like I want to keep evolving with the valid trends. I am hoping other people may have had the same questions and can give me a little help/clarity.  I think my favorite thing about cafe is that it organizes my strategy instruction, gives a nice classroom visual for our reading strategies, and develops self-awareness in students in terms of who they are as readers. I love doing strategy mini-lessons (especially comprehension) and I love focusing my small group time around strategy instruction. I also really like the opportunity to meet with students in individual conferences as needed. I appreciate the time to check in with students and their self-selected books. It seems more authentic than a typical guided reading group where I have chosen the book and have planned out the lesson very carefully. That said, I have a few unanswered questions:

1. Has anyone successfully implemented strategy groups in their classroom? I have tried, but either I don't seem to be able to wrap my mind around it or it just hasn't come up in my room - where I have students from a variety of levels needing the same strategy at the same time.

2. Are all your mini-lessons strategy lessons? Does anyone ever do a grammar lesson or a shared reading/interactive writing lesson instead?

3. For my lower students (I have 11 out of 30 students in 2nd grade reading at independent level C and below) I am thinking the more traditional Fountas and Pinnell guided reading lesson will be more effective. They are still so emergent and need that structured lesson plan that will give them explicit phonics/word study instruction, sight word practice, as well as accuracy (or decoding) strategies. Am I missing something, or do strategy groups Cafe style not look like this?

4. For people who do writer's workshop in addition to a literacy block, do you ever do writing mini-lessons (I'm thinking for students to practice during work on writing) during the literacy block?

As of now, I do three mini-lessons (comprehension, phonics dance, and then a rotation between accuracy, fluency, and expand vocabulary).

Anyway, I'd love to hear your philosophies on guided reading and what works in your classrooms! Your comments and opinions are so appreciated!

Happy Friday!


Karyn said...

Strategy groups make me nervous, as they are not as clear cut to me as Guided Reading groups.

With so many kids reading below a C, I think they need the traditional Guided Reading lessons so that you can make sure they are getting the reading practice, decoding strategies, etc.

I often have struggles with my kids who are reading above a K in their comprehension. These are the kids I think strategy groups will really benefit.

So far for our mini-lessons I have been doing phonics, interactive read alouds and grammar mini-lessons. We use Lucy for our writing workshop, which doesn't often provide grammar lessons. I normally do shared reading during our morning meeting, but I think that'd be a great mini-lesson because it can get them active orally and help them be quieter during their daily 5 work.

I'm going to see the sisters in November for CAFE and I am hoping to implement CAFE after that.

abby said...


I agree with you - I will do the traditional guided reading lessons for my lowest students. I am hoping to do more of a book club model for my top students (with strategy instruction mixed in), and do more of the CAFE model for my middle students.

We also use Lucy for writing so I feel your pain with grammar! I would love to hear how it goes seeing the sisters in November!! I'm sure they will have some great insights!

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