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CAFE serves up the perfect mini-lesson for reading comprehension.


I have a confession to make. I am a reading comprehension geek.  I love talking about it, teaching about it, and thinking about it. It is just amazing to me all of the things that good readers do without even thinking about it… everything from making inferences in a text to realizing that something doesn’t make sense and knowing to go back and re-read until it does!  I get so excited thinking about these things when I read and find myself doing them; not to mention how excited I get teaching about it to my students! It is one of my favorite parts of the school day.

In my classroom, I use the structure of The Daily Five to manage my language arts time.  My students participate in three, 20-minute rotations of authentic literacy activities in which they have a “controlled choice” of what to do. Prior to each rotation of independent time, I teach a brief 10 to 15-minute mini-lesson on phonics, reading comprehension, or grammar.

My favorite mini-lesson each day is the reading comprehension lesson. I use the framework of comprehension-accuracy-fluency-expand vocabulary (CAFE) to explicitly teach my students the skills they need to be strong readers. I have an area of my room set aside with our CAFE menu where strategies we have learned are posted under the appropriate column so that we can refer back to them. Students then have a visual reminder of the strategies they can choose from as readers. I write the strategy and together we come up with an appropriate visual representation for the strategy which a student then draws on the card. I love having the visual of the strategy menu and the reminder with the illustration. 

To teach the comprehension strategies, I get to read wonderful pieces of children’s literature to my students and model my own use of the strategies I am teaching. For someone, like me, who has a huge and always growing collection of children’s books, a list of books that are well-suited for each strategy is a must have! I love this list from the Reading Lady.

As the week goes on, students have many opportunities to practice the skills on their own… we use lots of body movements to show when we have used a strategy. For example, when we “make connections,” we use the thumb and first finger of each hand, linked together like a chain.  When I see students do that during my read alouds, I know they have made a connection to the text… but more importantly, I know that they recognize that they have a deeper understanding of what is being read.

One of my favorite resources for comprehension lessons is Into the Book. Into the Book has lessons and even videos to help you tighten up explicit comprehension instruction in your classroom!

The best part about using a very explicit approach to teaching reading comprehension is that having the “menu” in front of my students and using it frequently during my instruction means that I regularly hear them talking about comprehension using (and understanding!) the language skills I have taught them. There is something amazing to be said about hearing first and second graders talk to each other about the predictions they have made or how they need to remember to use the illustrations to help make inferences during a story!

CAFE Classroom Board Example*Each strategy is posted on the “wooden” portion below the appropriate heading.

*The white paper below each letter heading is where sticky notes with student names are placed. Through frequent conferring with students and talk about their strengths and weaknesses as readers, students declare their own strategy to focus on and post a sticky note under the heading where their strategy appears. When I meet with students for reading conferences, we are working on meeting their reading goals so they can choose a new strategy to work on!


Christina BainbridgeChristina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in Centreville, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike. Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.


For more interesting ways to engage readers in the classroom, download our Free k-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide, and boost reading comprehension for every student at every level!



Christina, I loved your article about the CAFE strategies! I first used them in my classroom last year and saw so much growth in my students' reading comprehension :) I will definitely have to check out the book "Into The Book" too! Thanks! :)
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 11:31 AM by Lisa Lizak
I started Daily 5 and CAFE this year and love to read how other teachers make it work and how successful it is. Thanks for sharing.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 11:38 AM by Debbie
Thanks for more great information, Christina! I always get inspired when I read your blog. :)
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 11:43 AM by Corinna
Daily 5 and CAFE have changed my reading instruction and it is so exciting to see how my student's learning has changed. Thanks for sharing!!!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 12:54 PM by Lori
Have been using Daily5 for a couple years and going to attempt CAFE this year. Thanks for all your wonderful resources.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:15 PM by Dot
I love how the Cafe style gives kids choice and therefore ownerhsip of learning. Plus you can get explicit instruction worked in, which some kids just need. Like the the SSR R-5 part of the article too. 
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:32 PM by Debbie Price
Thank you for the information you provided in this article. I look forward to starting the Daily Five in my classroom this September. Reading what another teacher does helps me better understand and implement the reading program.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:46 PM by Michelle Duffy
As always, more useful information from Christina! I loved the resources and explanations! I"m just getting started using D5 and CAFE in my room of second graders this year and I love having your articles to mentor me through it! THANKS!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 1:53 PM by Jami S.
You have written a great article. I enjoyed reading it. You sound quite a bit like me. I teach second grade as well. I have heard of The Daily 5 and I think it is easier for the teacher to plan and more beneficial to build reading comprehension and fluency for students. I have literacy stations in my class writing, work work computer & teacher, as this is required by our school district.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 2:35 PM by Louise Joines
I loved this information Christina! CAFE is something I am starting to hear a lot about and I am definitely wanting to know more!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 2:43 PM by Tiffany
I can't wait to implement the D5 and CAFE into my classroom. Thank you for the article! :o)
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 3:24 PM by Jennifer
Great article! I am a nerd for finding new and effective ways for boosting my students' comprehension! Thanks for the insight!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 3:32 PM by Sarah Byers
I LOOOOVE the Daily 5 and CAFE. My kids refer to the CAFE board daily, and can clearly identify their own areas of strength and need very early on with this program. The student "choice" within the Daily 5 makes literacy learning FUN! Thanks, Christina for the great post :)
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:12 PM by kathy walker
What a great post! I'm starting CAFE this year, and I'm both excited and nervous. I'm glad to see that you love it!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:28 PM by Amy
Christina, I have followed your website and blog for the past couple of months and find you to be so inspiring! I started out this new year doing doing the daily 5 and CAFE and always look to your blogs for new and creative ideas! Thank you for always sharing your ideas!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:34 PM by Alissa Lockwood
I have been following Cristina since last year. It was my first year teaching second grade and everything was better because of her resources. I love her site and the teacher friendly explanations for the daily 5.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 4:49 PM by Lynmara
I have been following Christina since the beginning of last school year. She was my first introduction the The Daily 5 and then to CAFE. I'm furiously reading so I can get the strategies implemented by the middle of our first trimester!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 5:26 PM by Shannon
I am planning on using Daily 5 and the CAFE this year in my third grade classroom. I llove the website links to use as references. Thanks so much!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 5:36 PM by Nannette
You always have such great ideas. I use a modified daily 5 for my centers when I do small group instruction.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 5:52 PM by peggy
Thank you for the advice. I'm starting reading groups next week and this is just what I was looking for!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 5:54 PM by Denise
Great job summarizing the Daily 5 and CAFE! I have been using them for 2 years and love it!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 6:07 PM by Eileen
Great article. I have read Daily 5 and I am now starting CAFE. I still have a lot to learn but I am beginning the Daily 5 in Sept. with my first grade class (I will be looping to 2nd grade next year- a lot of time to grow and learn together).
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 7:02 PM by Sybil
Really interesting. I've just found your blog and I am really enjoying it. I am planning to start Daily 5 and CAFE this year and I am finding your take on it really helpful!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 7:37 PM by kristin
I love your ideas. Thanks so much for sharing. This was very informative for me as I have not done Daily 5 yet but want to get started.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 7:44 PM by Cindy
Thanks for the link to the Reading Lady comprehension strategies/books! I'm always on the lookout for more/new books for teaching comprehension strategies. 
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:00 PM by Beth
What a wonderful article you have written! Into the Book is a site I also use with my students! 
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:11 PM by Julie
Thanks for the great information to help my students with reading comprehension!
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:21 PM by Jenn R.
Thanks for sharing the great book list resource. I love hearing teachers talk about the Daily 5 and CAFE. I hope to try that in my classroom in the future.
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:32 PM by sjones
Christina, you truly have been an inspiration to me as a fairly new teacher. Your amazing website provided me with so many great comprehension tools, and kept teaching fun in my classroom. I love using CAFE with my readers as it allows me to differentiate their instruction and meet all of their needs. The Daily 5 is the most wonderful management tool:)
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:32 PM by Julie Plut
Thanks for the article - you have some great tips,I am printing it to share with my teaching friends - this is a great reminder for experienced teachers and an invaluable resource for new teachers! 
Posted @ Saturday, August 27, 2011 9:27 PM by Jennifer
Loved the article! I am attempting C.A.F.E in my classroom this year for the first time.  
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 12:50 AM by Christy Holder
Thanks for sharing a great resource. I am in the very beginning stages of daily 5/ cafe an all the extra resources really help to put the process into a better perspective. I am going to really start slow and get my students to really build their stamina and understanding. I love your Dow pad resources. Thanks for being so spectacular. :)
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 7:47 AM by Sally
We are beginning a book study using the CAFE book. I will be so happy to share your insight and knowledge!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:04 AM by Barb Knerem
I saw a link to this article from Ms. Bainbridge's blog... Thanks for this article... the website "into the book" is FANTASTIC!! I can't wait to try it out!!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:05 AM by kate b.
I didn't know much about what Daily 5 is but I have learned more thanks to you!!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:42 AM by Ginger Snaps
I am doing Daily 5 this year in my classroom for the first time. I am so glad I found your blog and have loved all of the information and files that you share! Thank you so much!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 10:47 AM by Lisa Daniels
Thank you so much for the resources! I love the Daily 5/CAFE and want to incorporate CAFE as a reading specialist.
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:40 AM by Erin
I have not had any training with the Daily 5/CAFE, but would love to use it in my classroom. It sounds like what I need to do a better job teaching reading!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 11:50 AM by Nancy
I love the article on CAFE strategies and look forward to implementing them in my classroom next month!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 12:30 PM by Sydelle
I enjoyed your article and appreciate the links to resources. I love The Daily 5 and CAFE!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 2:14 PM by Andrea
Thank you for sharing a new resource with us...into the book looks amazing!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 2:27 PM by Rachael sterling
I loved the article! I have not tried the Daily 5 yet, but your inspiring article makes me want to check into it! Thank you! :)
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 4:22 PM by Cheryl
I'll be using CAFE and Daily 5 for the first time this year. I'm really excited about using it!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:07 PM by Sarah
Loved it!I am excited about trying it in my classroom! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:28 PM by Katie
Thanks for sharing your experience and the list. I also appreciated your post on blending the Daily Five with a nasal series as our district recently adopted one for the first time in 15 years.
Posted @ Sunday, August 28, 2011 8:54 PM by TeachNRun
I wasn't aware of the many ripples and depth to this story until I surfed here through Aol! Terrific job. My kindest regards.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 01, 2013 3:22 AM by bedding
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