Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grouping - C.A.F.E.

This summer I have delved into a couple of books that are making me rethink or at least tweak the way that I have taught reading in the past.

The two sisters Joan and Gail ( discuss in their CAFE book, the difference between guided reading groups and strategy groups.  In guided reading groups children are at the same or close to the same reading level.  You may call them by color groups: blue group, yellow group, red group, orange group or maybe you gave them animal group names: horses, dolphins, tigers, and bears. 

Strategy groups are where you are working on one strategy with a group.  You may have your higher reader or two in with a lower reader or average readers.  Everyone is simply working on the same skill.  It could be comprehesion or accuracy or something else.  At times especially in the primary grades you very well could have a group or two that are on the same reading level, but you are focusing on the strategy that they need. 

Often times in 2nd grade I noticed that my highest reading group had different areas they needed work on.  Some needed heavy comprehension while others could read enough words to be in the high group, but couldn't read words they had never seen.  Rather than plugging in some of both strategies as I had been doing, it seems like the best bet would have been to form strategy groups.  I should have used the phonics screener data that I had and put those needing word work in another group even if it meant being in with my lowest readers.  Of course the higher level reader would have a higher level book! 

I am proud that my students have always made huge reading gains, but I believe this format may help them make even bigger learning gains.

Click the book to head to Amazon and grab yourself a copy!  All opinions of the strategies above are of my own!  Be looking for other opinions of this great book in the near future!

guided reading, strategy groups, cafe, leveled readers, leveled groups, primary, intermediate, the two sisters

So my question to you is how do you teach reading groups?  Do you do it by guided reading levels or by strategy?  What do you feel the advantages are of each?

As always thanks for hoppin' by Hopkins' Hoppin' Happenings!  Keep on smiling!


  1. I read the Cafe/Daily Five books last summer and used the strategies in my classroom this past school year. At first, I followed both books "to the T" and then after several weeks, began to tweak things to better suit my students' needs. In my classroom, strategy based, heterogeneous grouping was not effective. My students' performance levels in reading ranged across five grade levels, and by grouping them together, I couldn't maintain an appropriate level of challenge for all of my students. I eventually switched over to a system where my highest performers were in strategy groups kept separate from my at-grade-level achievers, and a separate group composed of my strategic intervention students. I found that this system worked VERY well with my students.

    1. It probably all depends on what group of students you get! Each group is so different! What grade do you teach? I think the CAFE part would work probably best in intermediate with the grouping, but I may still give it a go in primary depending on if I have enough books for each child at their level!

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  3. I read these books a long time ago. They are helpful. You should have found them sooner!


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