Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Reading Conferences

I'm so excited to join Holly in her very first of a series of linky parties:

With this linky, you share any"thing" that you have tried, either personal or professionally, and how it worked for you. It could have been a success or a complete flop. For my very first "Tried it", I want to share about CAFE and how I've made it work in a non-traditional setting.

For those of you who are not familiar with CAFE, it's from the sisters (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) who created Daily 5. This is a companion program.

Daily 5 lays out what students should be doing while the teacher is working with other students. CAFE is the guideline for the teacher's instruction. It stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expanding Vocabulary. Under each heading, there are a list of strategies that students can use to help them gain mastery. The whole point is that the teacher holds individual conferences with students where they read a book ON THEIR LEVEL and work on the different strategies. Each students has a goal and works toward mastering one skill at a time. There's so much more to it, and I highly recommend getting a copy of the book to learn more. The program is fantastic!

Anyway, when we started this last year, I was quite pregnant and did my best to jump in wholeheartedly, but let's face it. Trying something new when you're going out on maternity leave in a few months doesn't really work that well. I came back in February and tried to get it really going again, but then it was a huge push toward preparing for tests. We sort of made it work, but most of my intentions stayed just that. Intentions.

At the end of the year, I learned that I would be moving to Title I as the reading specialist for grades 3-5. I put my CAFE board together and made my little gigantic notebook for conferences. For most of the year, it just sat there. I was meeting with students, but most of it was being done in a small group setting, and I just didn't have much to write. After Christmas, I decided it was time to get serious. I threw out the old sheet and made things as simple as possible for myself. Then I made it pretty! You can download the form for FREE here! Just please make sure to leave me some positive feedback.

With this sheet, I just quickly fill in what the student is reading, what we've been working on, and what I feel we need to focus on for next time. If I meet with them for a running record, I quickly jot down what letter I'm reading with them, their accuracy percentage and number of correctly answered comprehension questions. Then I put if they are instructional, independent, or frustrational. That way I have a quick reference to look at when it's time to retest them. I wish that I had kept up with this more throughout the year because it's helped a lot. I can see an exact date when I last met with each student and decide quickly who I need to read with and who can wait a little longer.

If you're not doing individual conferences with your kids, I challenge you to give it a try. I know it's easier to just meet with them in a small group, but you really can accomplish most of these meetings in about 5 minutes and quickly move from one kid to another. The only time it takes me longer is when I'm doing running records. Still I can get through most of those in about 15 minutes!

Now go check out Holly's blog for more ideas that teachers are trying out. See if any catch your eye!

Then go and Follow my blog with Bloglovin. All the cool kids are doing it! ;-)


  1. I love your record sheet, I've just been keeping it in my notebook on notebook paper. Thanks for sharing.
    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  2. Thank you so much for the freebie! I am trying a modified D5 for the first time this year (it will probably be a future "Tried It Tuesday" topic!).

    I also see so much value in meeting with the students individually. Although, it has really fallen by the wayside the past month with the push toward the test. It seems like I have SO much to cover and not enough time to do it! I have 23 students for ELA and there are days I just wish I could multiply myself by three:)

    Once the big test is over, I am going to make a better effort to get back on track (is that sad or what?). Thank you so much for linking up:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  3. Your post is reminding me that I really haven't been good about reading conferences. I talk to my students ALL the time about their reading, but I have very little in the way of note taking. Thanks for sharing your form! I left you some feedback on TpT.


  4. What a great conferencing freebie - thanks for sharing! I know what you mean about how hard it is to consistently implement one-on-one conferences and note-taking. But I admire your determination to keep working at it and striving to implement CAFE, even if it is in a non-traditional way.

    Joy in the Journey

  5. Thanks for sharing this! As a new(er) teacher I'm always looking for ways to enhance my reading program. It is great to see what others use! Thanks:)

  6. Hey Melissa!! We LOVE the Daily 5!! We've both been doing it for three years now. LOVE it!!

    Guess what?? Some Bunny Loves Your Blog too!!

    Sister Teachers

  7. Hi Melissa, I LOVE Daily 5!! I was introduced to the program last year by my team teaching buddy when we taught Prep (5-6 year olds) and I am now following the program with my 1/2's (6-8 year olds) and I have been playing with my Maths lesson to look similar. I love it and so do my kids.
    Cheers Claire
    Diary of a Primary Teacher