CAFE in the Classroom

CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Under each category, there are reading strategies essential to developing a successful reader. As I implement the different strategies in my classroom, I will post supporting lesson ideas, websites, picture books, and videos.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Using Beginning and Ending Sounds

When teaching students to solve words, I teach students to use beginning and ending sounds. This strategy fits under Accuracy on the CAFÉ menu. Towards the beginning of second grade, I notice that the majority of my students know their consonants, but still struggle with many of the vowel sounds. This causes them to quickly guess a word based on the beginning sound. By teaching students to also pay attention to the end, it forces beginning readers to slow down and look at the whole word. They are usually much more successful when they are able to use the beginning and ending sound to help them solve the word. Once they read the word, I always remind them to ask themselves, “Does that make sense?”

Explaining the Strategy:
“You can look at the first and last parts of a word to read it.”
“You can use word parts to solve a word.”
“Did you look at the whole word?”
“Did what you read make sense?”

Ideas for Teaching:
  • While reading a big book or poem, highlight the beginning and ending sound in a few words from the text. Have the class help solve the word, being sure to pay attention to the whole word. 
  • While reading or writing as a whole class mini-lesson, have students come up and highlight the beginning and ending sounds in a word. Have the students tell the first and last parts of the word. 
  • Have students play Word Race. On a blank game board, write one-syllable words in each box. Work in groups of two, three, or four. They place their colored markers at Start, roll a die, move the number of spaces, read the word written on the space, and tell the first and last parts. The first player to get to the end wins. 
  • As a class, hold up a few one-syllable word cards and have the children read them and tell the parts.

Helpful Websites:
ReadWriteThink offers a lesson to teach phonemic awareness. The lesson uses chants and matching activities to help students recognize words with the same sound.

This lesson may be too easy for second grade, but it reinforces words that have the same sound.

This website offers many lessons for a SmartBoard. About halfway down the page, there is a lesson for beginning and ending sounds.

Supporting Picture Books:
Kellogg, S. (1992). Aster Aardvark’s alphabet adventures. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
  • This picture book is a good book to read-aloud. It features sound substitutions at the beginning of words.

Slepian, J. (2001). The hungry thing. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.
  • This book also features sound substitutions at the beginning of words. It helps students focus on the beginning sounds.

Gowler, R. (2001). Barnyard song. Hartford, CT: Atheneum.
  • If you want to focus on ending sounds, this book can help. Using it at as a read-aloud will allow you to find words that end the same.

Ahlberg, A. (1999). Monkey do. London: Walker Books Ltd.
  • This book also features words that end the same.

Professional Resources:

Pinnell, G., & Fountas, I. (2003). Phonics lessons grade 2. Portsmouth, NH: FirstHand.

Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2009). The cafe book. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Reutzel, D., & Cooter, Jr., R. (1999). Strategies for reading assessment and instruction. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Read Good-Fit Books

To help students become fluent readers, they need to spend most of their reading time with books they can read at 99-100% accuracy. To help students grasp this, I focus on teaching students to read “good-fit” books. This strategy fits under Fluency on the CAFÉ menu. In second grade, chapter books quickly become the “in” thing to read. As soon as students see a classmate holding a chapter book, they quickly realize that they, too, want to hold a chapter book. This becomes a problem, because this is exactly what they do… hold a chapter book. They are not reading the words, but they try their hardest to pretend to read it. I really focus on “Good Fit” books throughout the entire year. I try to help those itching for chapter books find chapter books that “fit” them well. I also help them find high-interest picture books at their level. Leading them to books they can read independently will keep them on task during reading and also help build their fluency.

Explaining the Strategy:
“Is that a good-fit book for you? Show me how you know.”
“Show me a good-fit book for you.”

Ideas for Teaching:
  • Teach students to remember I PICK good-fit books.
  • Introduce this strategy using the lesson in The Daily Five. Bring in different types of shoes, such as gym shoes, slippers, high heels, or cleats. Explain that each pair of shoes has a different purpose, just like books do. Also, show that some shoes may be for the right purpose, but may not fit well (model this with shoes that are too small or too large for you). Refer to this analogy throughout the year when discussing good-fit books.
  • Help students book shop in you classroom or school library. With each student, take time to find books that interest him or her. Model the I PICK strategy, and have them try it out with you guiding them.

Helpful Websites:
This website offers a lesson on teaching children to choose just-right books. It uses an analogy of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to help even the youngest students understand.

This is a website that uses the five-finger rule for choosing a just-right book.

Supporting Picture Books:
Boelts, M. (2007). Those shoes. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.
  • This book by Maribeth Boelts can go along with a lesson relating good-fit shoes to good-fit books.

Brett, J. (1987). Goldilocks and the three bears. New York, NY: The Putnam & Grosset Group.
  • This book can support the lesson on using Goldilocks and the Three Bears to teach just-right books.

Crews, D. (1996). Shortcut. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
  • This books, along with many others by Donald Crews, offer those struggling readers with good picture books they can read on their own. 

Johnson, A. (1993). Do like Kyla. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Angela Johnson also writes many books that are appropriate for the younger readers.

Professional Resources:
Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2009). The cafe book. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2006). The daily 5. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Checking for Understanding

One of the first strategies I teach in my second grade classroom is Check for Understanding. Check for Understanding fits under Comprehension on the CAFÉ menu. I find this strategy to be very valuable in the primary grades because the main focus for students always seems to be getting the words right. By starting my year off with a comprehension strategy, it reminds both me and the students the main purpose of reading… to make meaning!

Explaining the Strategy:
“When I read a story, I need to think of who the story is about and what just happened.”
“Who did you just read about? What just happened?
“Think about who the story was about and what just happened.”
"Real reading includes both the text and thinking."

Ideas for Teaching:
  • Use a wooden checkmark to help students remember to check for understanding while reading. On one side of the checkmark, write “Check for Understanding.” On the back side of the checkmark, write who and what.
  • While reading with a partner, have the partner that is listening respond with, “I just heard you read…”
  • Model this strategy during your interactive read-alouds. Explain to students that reading is not just about the words, but we must also think about the information. Teach students to use Post-Its to track their thinking while they read.
  • Explain that just like a salad with a mixture of lettuce and tomatoes, a reading salad is a mixture of text and thinking. Label two small bowls text and thinking. Label a large bowl real reading. Place red cards in the text bowl and green cards in the thinking bowl. As you read a story, point to the text when you are reading from the text and point to your head when you are thinking aloud. Have a student add a tomato (text card) to the real reading salad when you point to the text and lettuce (thinking card) when you point to your head. This helps students visualize that real reading must be a mixture of text and thinking.
  • Create a poster-size thought bubble. As one child sits and reads aloud, stand next to the child and hold the thought bubble. Explain your thinking while the student reads. This helps students understand what goes on inside a reader’s head.

Helpful Websites:
This website explains how to conduct a Think-aloud. Think-alouds are a great way to reveal to students how readers think about the text. Use a think-aloud before or during reading.

This is another website that lists resources for conducting a think-aloud.

Supporting Picture Books:
dePaola, T. (1989). The art lesson. New York, NY: Penguin Young Readers Group.
  • This book helps initiate thinking about the text because most students can easily relate to the boy in the story.

Danneberg, J. (2000) First day jitters. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.
  • Because I usually teach this strategy at the beginning of the school year, I like to pull in books about school. I also like this book because it has a surprise ending. Students realize that thinking may change while reading. 

Fox, M. (1988). Koala Lou. Orlando, FL: Harcourt, Inc.
  • This book also is helps initiate students’ thinking. Because they can usually relate, they are quick to share their thinking during the story.

Professional Resources:

Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2009). The cafe book. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Boushey, G., & Moser, J. (2006). The daily 5. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers.
Harvey, S., & Goudvis, A. (2008). The primary comprehension toolkit. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. (Strategy Book 1)
McGregor, T. (2007). Comprehension connections. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.