Essential Elements

Daily 5, Math Daily 3, and CAFE are definitive frameworks that are also flexible. They look slightly different in every classroom because teaching styles, students, requirements, and resources are diverse. However, there are elements of all three that are essential—thus, the creation of the Essential Elements. These documents are not intended to be used for evaluative purposes, but as tools to help you assess your knowledge and application of each element and its supporting behaviors. 

The Elements fit into four stages: 

  1. Understand —Uncover the research and background leading to the framework's development. When the purpose aligns with your philosophy, you will be compelled to prepare, teach, and support while using the framework. 
  2. Prepare—Identify the materials and enhancements necessary to organizing an environment that promotes a successful launch. 
  3. Teach—Learn the instructional moves that make up the unique framework. 
  4. Support—Discover teaching strategies that reinforce desired behaviors and sustain the framework in action. 

Download and Take Each Self-Assessment

Self-Assessing with the Essential Elements

Start with Element 1, behavior 1.1, and assess your knowledge level. There are four choices:

  • No knowledge—I have no knowledge of this behavior or how it strengthens the framework.
  • Developing knowledge—I know this behavior and understand how it strengthens the framework but have not applied it to my practice.
  • Applying learned knowledge—I understand this behavior and am working to apply it in my practice.
  • Demonstrating strong evidence—I understand this behavior, apply it in my practice, and witness success.

Continue through the document, reflecting on your practice and assessing behaviors.


When finished, use these guiding questions:


Am I demonstrating evidence of all the elements?

What are my strengths?

What are my next steps?


Do I have a working knowledge of all the elements?

What additional support do I need?

How can I support teachers?


Do I have a working knowledge of all the elements?

What additional support do I need?

How can I best support the teachers?

Once you identify your strengths and set goals, enhance your practice and support your learning in one of the following ways:

  1. Create an open dialogue with colleagues, coaches, and administrators. Ask necessary questions, share insights, and support each other through implementation of the Elements. Rely on each other’s individual strengths to provide examples, model behaviors, and offer encouragement.
  2. Navigate this website, The Daily CAFE. Use the search function to find articles, videos, and documents to support your learning goals.
  3. Observe classrooms that are using the framework, take notes, and ask questions.
  4. Participate in a live workshop, online seminar, or graduate course to deepen learning.
  5. Read or reread The Daily 5: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades; and The CAFE Book: Engaging All Students in Daily Literacy Assessment & Instruction applicable to the framework you are studying. Participate in a book study with colleagues.

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