CAFE - the first week | Mentoring in the Middle

CAFE - the first week

Just bought Jon Scieszka's Knucklehead
for my classroom.  It looks like it might be a great read for some of my more reluctant boys.  And it's a biography, so it'll encourage them in a genre they don't usually go for.  And I even learned how to pronounce his last name - I googled it and found a video clip of him explaining it, "Scieczka rhymes with Fresca."  Who knew?

We had staff development on Monday, no school on Tuesday, and 2-hour delays on Wednesday and Thursday, so introducing CAFE to my classes this week kept getting mov3earound. In some ways though, the shorter time frame for each class was perfect for introducing the concept, or handing out materials, before our first regular day on Friday.

So here are the pros and cons from Week 1:

1.  Students love the individual time I'm giving them.
2.  They're very receptive to what I'm sharing with them and kind of eager to start reading with more focus. (We'll see if that lasts!)
3.  I love having the chance to hear each of them read a little; it's really helpful.  And with 76 kids, I didn't always get to do that.
4.  So far it hasn't been too difficult to figure out what students need to work on.  I was worried about that.

1.  I'm supposed to keep these conferences to less than 3 minutes?!
2.  Students don't always know what to do when they have questions.  They don't know if the old rules for how to get help are still in effect.  I need to teach that.
3.  I hate to cut a student off when he/she is talking.  One student talked to me for ten minutes about three different books he was reading.  I didn't want to be the one telling him I couldn't listen because I had to move on to another student.  He was so eager to share!  But that seriously cuts into conference times!  I'm hoping once we get into the rhythm of things, I'll be better at this.

One student came up to me after class and told me how much she liked that I was her teacher.  She said she'd loved what we'd done that day, and couldn't wait to come back for more.  How sweet.  And how thoughtful of her to come up and tell me.  Kids like that keep you teaching!

Have a great rest of your weekend!


  1. I am always on the look-out for books for reluctant readers - thank you for the suggestion! I'm looking forward to hearing how CAFE goes for you. It seems like it would be a challenge with so many students!

    1. It looks like a fun read. As far as the number of kids, I have them in three 1 1/4 hour blocks, so it's do-able.

  2. I tried CAFE last year and it worked really well with that group of students. This year, my schedule is topsy turvy and my reading block got pushed into the end of the day where the kids just don't have the stamina or focus for CAFE, so I'm doing guided reading instead. Can't wait to hear more about how it goes for you!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

    1. By the end of the day, I'd be hard-pressed to focus on reading. Good for you for switching gears when you realized that would be better for your kids!

  3. I agree with the challenge of keeping conferences short. Sometimes students have so much to say. It is so hard to cut them off. This is my second year of CAFE, and that is still my biggest challenge.

    Fit to be Fourth

    1. That actually makes me feel better, Mary! I just love talking to kids about what they're reading, too, so I'm as guilty as they are!

  4. I agree with you about keeping conferences short too! My "CAFE" is so modified though and I don't do nearly as much as the Sisters. I actually want to look back at my book and see what else I can change/implement. There is just so little time when I only see each block for 80 minutes total of ELA (reading and writing combined!). Thanks for linking up, Marion! :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper