Friday, June 15, 2012


Today was the last day of school.  My students attended school for only half of the day, however, teachers were  required to work a full day.  After my students gathered their things and said their goodbyes, I scanned the classroom, noticing all of the things that needed to be done.  This year, I decided to take a few pictures of some of the key structures in my classroom.  In the fall, when school resumes, I can refer back to my pictures when I'm ready to recreate or modify them.  One of the most important areas is my CAFE board.  It's important to have a place or anchor in the classroom where you can post the reading strategies that you teach/model with your students.

I've seen different arrangements for setting up a CAFE board.  The CAFE goals are usually at the top of the board/space.  Below each goal, there is room for placing the students' names under the goal that they are working on.  The individual strategies are then placed below that.  Since I teach first grade, I usually leave room at the bottom of the board for names (instead of at the top) because my students would have a hard time looking up at the top of the board to find their names.  Now, I have an even better solution to the name placement.  I take pictures of my students at the beginning of the school year, cut them out, and place their picture next to the strategy they are working on.  This works perfectly and my students respond much more enthusiastically to seeing their picture next to the strategy rather than just seeing their name.

My CAFE board is a major focal point in my classroom and contributes to a successful launching and implementation of the Daily 5/CAFE in my classroom.  It's not a board, like so many others, that goes unnoticed once it's introduced.  It's a board that is a continual work in progress in my classroom.  I refer to the CAFE board daily and sometimes several times in the day.  My students refer to the CAFE board, they use it as a reference, and as a tool.  When I introduce a new strategy, it's placed on the CAFE board.  When I refer to a previously introduced strategy, I point/touch the CAFE board.  When students are working on a new goal, they move their picture to the appropriate place on the CAFE board.  The majority of our literacy discussions take place under the backdrop of our CAFE board.

Take a look at my CAFE board below.  You won't see pictures of students because they were taken off the board and given to them as a year-end memento.  However, the remainder of the board is just as we left it.    Do you use a CAFE board for your Daily 5/CAFE instruction?  Is there anything unique or different about your board?  Please share what's different or unique with us in the comments section.  Perhaps you have a setup that works better for older students.  I would love to hear from you.


  1. Hi Valerie
    It's always really interesting to see what other teachers do in their classroom, especially with Daily 5. Your CAFE strategy board is fabulous! I teach a Year 4 and have found it has been much easier using photos for my CAFE strategy board too. It was more convenient that way and I can easily see who is which strategy. It certainly has been something I keep referring to. I have been working on a CAFE style strategy board for writing. It's a VOICES strategy board: Voices, Organisation, Ideas, conventions, Enhance Vocabulary, sentence fluency. It's a work in progress too, but it's helped teach aspects and strategies of writing explicitly and effectively. Keep up the great work and I look forward to seeing how you set up next school year, with your new class.
    Kate Todd

    1. Thanks Kate! I think the pictures are easier for me and my students to refer back to when using our CAFE board. I love the idea of a CAFE style strategy board for writing. I would love to see pictures and hear more about it. I'd like to incorporate something like that into my writing program. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful idea.

    2. Hi Valerie
      I find the most amazing thing about blogging about what we are teaching helps us all to grow and develop in our classrooms. I would love to show you what I am working on. I'll post some pictures on my blog and what I've done so far.

  2. Hi Valerie,
    My CAFE board is titled "The F A C E of a Reader". I got it from a website (which I do not remember off hand but could find). I liked that title because it equates with good readers. It would make sense for me to use their pictures with this too as I tried using sticky notes and they kept falling off. This was my first year and I started great guns but by the end of the year the board was just sitting. I know I will do a better job this upcoming year.

    I enjoy reading your posts as I have learned a lot from you!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Nancy,
      Your words are always so encouraging. I really like "The F A C E of a Reader" idea. I think it's so important to make D5 your own. I didn't have a lot of success with sticky notes for the same reason. The pictures add to the fact that the board is our classroom board and not my board. They also seem to take more ownership of the strategy when they see their picture next to it. Keep tweaking the D5, it gets better every year.