First of all, Laura is blogging over at We Read, We Blog, We Teach and has some amazing freebies for this chapter.
I think that this chapter is really fundamental in using the Cafe method effectively. There are small group and individual conferences that are used to teach the strategies so, naturally, the individual conferences are so important. You confer with individual students to work toward their own goals.
The main "schedule" of an individual session is:
- Observe and listen to the student reading aloud. Any book will do. Jot down the title of the book while thinking about the focus of the conference.
- Teach/reinforce the strategy they are working on. Record two things to work on (usually a comprehension strategy plus one from another area).
- Let them practice.
- Make a plan for the next step and encourage the student to keep up the good work! Write down what you will focus on next time and write the new appointment in the calendar section.
There are special forms from The Daily Cafe site and The Cafe Book that you can use for individual conferences. You can get them with or without icon prompts. I haven't been using the ones with the icons but I just might now that I saw Laura's freebie.
The Sisters include a script for "Coaching Toward a Target." They show about 5 minutes for a conference but mine go a bit longer. :) They also stress that those times aren't set in stone- they take longer sometimes. And the will occasionally meet with a child twice in one day if needed.
There is a fabulous appendix and CD that show you step-by-step how to teach each of the strategies on the Cafe Menu. That alone is worth the $20 for the book! They are also available on The Daily Cafe website if you are a member.
It's time to move to a new strategy once the student has shown mastery of the strategy they are working on a few times. The Sisters use a check mark when they feel that a student is using the strategy successfully. They also say you could use "Touchpoints" (a rating scale from 1-4). My team uses +, v, - because that is part of our grading scale. A "+" is proficient, a "v" is working towards mastery, and a "-" is needs improvement.
I really like that they realize that some kids need more conferring than others but caution teachers not to overlook their "Tiger Woods" kids- even he needs a coach!
I usually have three Daily 5 rounds each day and can meet with 2-3 small groups (all in one round if possible) and then have 1-2 round of individual conferences. Sometimes I have a small group and then meet with individuals in every round.
The next chapter offers a sneak peek into their conferences.