Monday, 2 November 2015

The CAFE - goals and strategies for reading instruction

Have you ever felt a bit overwhelmed by the task of sharing goals with students?  What do you predict your students will say when you ask them, "What are you working on in reading?" or "What are you learning how to do?"
If this is something that concerns you as a teacher, you may well find The CAFE Book an interesting read.
The Literacy CAFE is a handy acronym for the goals in reading instruction.  The CAFE Book provides a structure for keeping students involved in their learning and helping them to work with an awareness of literacy goals.  It is also an instructional guide for teachers in how to organise for daily literacy assessment and instruction in order to meet the needs of individuals.
The four literacy goals are: Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary.
Authors, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, have developed a menu of goals under these headings and given detailed guidance in setting up for teaching and assessment - with record keeping being a major challenge for any teacher to deal with when setting out to personalise instruction to meet individual needs.
One big positive about the CAFE in terms of the New Zealand curriculum is that it's a flexible system.  The strategies as laid out in the book are a useful starting point but others can be substituted or added as required.  For example, this year I discovered The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo and have begun to add some of these strategies to my repertoire.
The big change involved in this approach is a shift in focus from the particular book for instructional reading to the reader.
Just as in Reading Recovery, teachers are encouraged to observe what the child is actually doing as a reader and to tailor the teaching accordingly.  Rather than teaching a guided lesson about the content of a specific book, the lessons focus on strategies that will help the reader to be more effective when reading that book and other books.  We're teaching skills and strategies with a view to transfer - applying the strategies today and every day from now on.
We share these strategies with the reader, so that, as time goes on, our students will begin to talk confidently about their reading goals and strategies and answer those questions, "What are you working on?" and "What are you learning how to do?"