The Daily Cafe
A Structure that SAVES THE DAY in our Classroom!
What exactly is this "Daily Cafe" that my child keeps talking about?
The Daily Cafe has really got our heroes soaring. So what is this Daily Cafe? It is not a reading and writing curriculum but instead, it is a structure used in our English Language Arts block. The Daily Five, developed by two sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, is engaging your students and inspiring them to develop the excellent habits of life long readers and writers.
Our classroom looks nothing like the classroom you likely visualize from your own childhood. Gone are the days when each child takes his or her turn reading from a reader that either bores them to tears or frightens them to death. Gone are the worksheets and teacher lectures. Reading and writing instruction looks, sounds and feels very different.
Instead, the classroom looks and feels like a hip cafe. When you walk in, the first thing you'll notice is that the students don't notice you! This is because they are 100% engaged in their literacy activities. There is a quiet hum. There are students here and there working in pairs and a small group is listening to a book on an iPad with headphones on. The teacher is tough to find. Finally you find her sitting on the floor next to a student. They're talking quietly and the student seems so happy! Other pairs of students are sitting side by side in chairs and on the floor. They are reading together. Some are writing. Some appear to be solving puzzles and moving spelling words around on their desks. Everyone is busy.
Now at the start, our students weren't quite so engaged. A glorious summer vacation had just drawn to a close after all. However, they always showed a willingness to learn and work hard. They kept their focus and contributed to our early lessons. During these lessons we talked about each component of the Daily 5. With my help, they pictured what each task might look like. They practiced performing each task with independence. Their stamina increased a little each day. In the beginning, our students could only focus on these important tasks for minutes at a time. They continued to practice and by the end of September, they were able to stay engaged for 20 to 30 minutes. This means that every student was able to stick to their task. Each was able to practice without the teacher reminding them to refocus or to behave or to quiet down. AMAZING!
Building the stamina to Read to Self, Write, Read to Someone, Work with Words and Listen to Reading with independence was a CRITICAL first step. Research proves that it is these tasks that have the greatest impact on student reading and writing achievement. They also foster a LOVE of reading and writing. This is so important when it comes to raising students who will enjoy reading and writing over the course of their entire lives.
One of the reasons why the students are so engaged is because each student is doing what he or she has chosen to do. That is right! The students have choice! This is not to say that students can avoid writing if it is not their favorite because every child has to read and write every day. But, the students can choose when to read or when to write or the order in which they'll focus on each of the five literacy tasks. Having choice certainly empowers students to stay focused on their work, independent of the teacher.
You can probably picture what it might feel like to curl up with a book by your favorite author and READ...uninterrupted. JOY! JOY! JOY! The Daily Five feels JUST. LIKE. THAT.
Thanks so much for taking the time to learn about the Daily Cafe! There are three parts to this newsletter that are musts to read and view. They are:
- Meeting the Daily 5
- View our Daily Cafe VIDEO and see the little heroes in action. You'll really get a feel for what the Daily 5 looks like in our classroom.
- Every Superhero needs a side kick: Supporting your Reader at Home!
Thanks for sharing your stars with me! Thanks for reading and caring about what happens in our room!
Meeting the Daily 5
- Read to Self: Students spend time reading Good Fit Books to themselves during Read to Self. Good Fit Books are books that students choose for themselves. They are books that students have a purpose for reading. Perhaps they are reading for FUN or to gather information for a report. These are books that the students are interested in. In addition, Good Fit Books are books that the student can understand as they read along. Finally, students can read most of the words on each page and frustration is not a factor.
- Work on Writing: When students opt for the Work on Writing choice, they spend their time writing, fast and furious, in their writing journals. They can choose to write narratives, informational texts, or persuasive pieces. This task truly works to build students' writing skills and promotes writing fluency.
- Read to Someone: Students spend time sitting next to a classmate and reading aloud. Students practice sitting close and reading quietly so the vibe in the room is never disturbed. Reading to Someone is a great way to practice all reading skills especially reading fluency!
- Listen to Reading: While Listening to Reading students wear headphones and listen to popular books or selections from the Wonders anthology. They'll use classroom iPads, the desktop computer or a laptop to access these online reading resources. Students LOVE to Listen to Reading because it is fun. It also helps to make them better readers.
- Word Work: During this choice students work with their developmental spelling lists. They practice sorting and writing words worth learning. The focus is on learning common spelling patterns worth knowing. This important work goes a long way toward turning out students who are better at reading and writing.
Our Daily Cafe Video
Every Superhero Needs A Great Sidekick: Supporting your Reader at Home
- READ! Let your child see you reading. Children see their parents as role models. Modeling this excellent habit is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your child!
- Read to your child. Children are never too old for this. Just because your child is old enough to read on his or her own, it doesn't mean that he or she doesn't LOVE being read too. Blink and your little baby will be all grown up and you'll savor these wonderful memories.
- Ask your child about the Daily 5. Ask what he or she is reading. Every child has a reading goal and strategies he or she is practicing. Ask about your child's goal. Read the Parent Pipeline that comes home with your child from time to time. These handouts are rich with easy things you can do to support your child's reading practice at home.
- Find out what your child likes to read. Surprise him or her with the gift of books. Plan trips to the library or your favorite bookstore. Make these special "dates" with your child. Get excited. He or she will too!
- Seek out authentic reasons to get your child writing. Encourage thank you notes, letters to relatives etc. My own son has taken to writing persuasive letters when he really wants something (like a sleepover). I love it and I store those letters away like the gold that they are!
- Be positive. Celebrate progress...even small gains. Sometimes progress happens slowly. Sometimes it happens all at once. Every student is working hard to make progress. Focus on the positive and share your own positive experiences with reading and writing with your child.
Thanks so much for all you continue to do to support reading and writing in your homes. I am so fortunate to work with such amazing families!