While at a recent Daily 5 and CAFE conference in Los Angeles, Sheila Adair, a returning conference attendee, shared her beautiful first-grade CAFE board. We were struck by how purposefully she had incorporated what she knew about brain research, which was reflected in the use of color, placement, and even the way the strategies were written.
Sheila talked about wanting to use her CAFE board in the most purposeful way possible with her students. She drew on brain research and brain patterning work by Art Costa and Susan Kovalik. The brain is a "pattern detector" and consequently responds positively to color coding as it attempts to make sense of new information and categorize it for the future.
Sheila created her CAFE Menu by giving each goal (Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, and Expand Vocabulary) its own distinct color. She continued the color coding by having students write each strategy in the corresponding color (with a smelly marker, no less).
Sheila initially thought the lack of bulletin board space in her classroom, which required her to place the CAFE Menu on cupboard doors and low to the ground, was going to be problematic. Instead she found that by having it closer to the level of her students and providing pre-placed paper clips makes it easy for kids to attach written strategies and take them off again. Students bring a strategy card to small-group or one-on-one conferences, or Sheila holds one up during whole-group instruction and learning. Sheila noted that it makes the CAFE board more interactive and translates into more meaningful learning for her first graders.
Another interesting thing is that the whole school uses the same colors for their CAFE Menus, so as children go from class to class, the consistency creates powerful anchors to this important learning.
Sheila shared this:
"My CAFE board is quickly becoming the most important anchor and springboard in my classroom for the most meaningful learning of my students. They love it and I love it because it makes sense and isn't just another 'bulletin board' taking up space in my room.”