The skills and strategies we teach are a series of lessons that will eventually lead to deep understanding. We intentionally select focus lessons that meet the needs of the majority of the group, but due to vast ability and readiness levels, there will be a few who already know and a few who aren't quite ready for the concepts presented.
Therefore, our instruction follows a dependable sequence or pattern.
- We teach a skill or strategy to the whole group and students opt in and out of practicing based on their needs, prior experience, and the kind of reading or writing they are currently involved in.
- We teach the skill or strategy to a small group who would benefit from a bit more scaffolding and who have a common need for what we are teaching. The small group setting provides students with an opportunity to gain assisted practice with us before we release them to practice independently.
- We further teach, support, and assess each student's learning through our one-on-one conferences. These one-on-one conversations provide us with a timely opportunity to offer guided practice, modeled demonstration, explicit teaching, or sharing of examples when students are ready for it. This work with small groups and individuals is recorded in our conferring notebook. Our conferring notebook holds our thinking and provides a simple system for accountability.
Since students will get repeated exposure to the strategies, we don't worry or panic if they don't try a particular strategy during their independent time on the day we teach it. We provide extensive practice time and give frequent opportunities during sharing to articulate how the strategies we've put on our CAFE Menu board are helping them become proficient readers. The combination of repeated whole-group instruction, checking in with the goal and strategy during small-group and one-on-one instruction, and peer sharing, guarantees that what we are focusing on will become part of the vocabulary and repertoire of each child.