CAFE and DAILY 5 in the Upper Elementary Classroom, Part 1 (Plus FREEBIES!)

Over the course of my career, I’ve been pretty passionate about effective literacy instruction. Being a reader and writer can be the difference in long-term success for students, especially through their secondary education. I have always been an advocate of balanced literacy instruction, from 4 Blocks to Fountas and Pinnell to Daily 5. When I moved to the upper grades, I knew I needed to figure out a way to bring a quality framework along with me.

If you haven’t read Daily 5 and CAFE by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser (AKA The Two Sisters), start there. Daily 5 describes the framework that will structure your class to allow for focused whole-group mini-lessons, individual conferences, and small-group instruction. CAFE delves more into the strategies that good readers utilize and how to teach those to your students.

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The Daily 5/CAFE model tends to be geared towards lower elementary, though, so I’ve made some adaptations. First, in upper grades, I do Daily 3, instead of Daily 5. Each day we have two rounds of independent work time (which I use to confer with students and meet with strategy groups). During those rounds, student can choose “Read to Self,” “Work on Writing,” or “Word Work.” Students are all required to do Read to Self for one of their rounds. There is much I could share about what students do within these choices, so I will share that on a separate post.

Probably the biggest adaptation I’ve made, though, is to the actual CAFE menu. I still have plenty of readers who benefit from the strategies on the traditional CAFE menu, but I knew I also needed an added level of rigor. That is how CAFE+ was formed. I use the plus category for skills and strategies that we use to support our 5th grade work.

In the beginning of the year, we add 2 wall cards per day of skills that are review. This allows a good portion of our wall to quickly form, which we reference for strategies in focus lessons, conferring, and goal-setting. Strategies that are more complex or require more instruction are added later. I love that the CAFE board allows for my students to have a constant reference to assist them in improving their reading, and a visual with which we connect as we learn.

I have created four CAFE+ header options that include color and blackline options, and have also included the wall cards shown in this post. They each list a strategy and have a place for a student illustration. You can get them for free at my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE. You can also download a copy of the whole CAFE+ Menu HERE.