Focused Instruction + Layered Strategies = Powerful, Proficient Reading

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It is gratifying to sit with a child who has an arsenal of strategies to access as they navigate their way through a text. It shows the power of targeted, supportive instruction and the CAFE Menu. Here is a glimpse into a conference I had with a third grader.

I joined Karly just as she pulled The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka out of her book box.

She looked at the title, read "The Frog Prince Connected," and asked, "Why does it say connected?"

"That is a great question," I responded. "It didn't sound right to me either. Let's cross-check that last word. Breaking it into chunks might help you decode it."

She figured it out by breaking it into three syllables.

After asking what she knew about the original fairy tale, I discovered she had never heard it, so she was treated to a condensed version of this childhood favorite of mine. Then she began to read. Here are the errors she made and the strategies she used to fix them up without prompting from me:

  • He ran deepier into the forest. (Cross-check plus Back up and reread) He ran deeper into the forest.
  • The Prince stopped on the slighty (Cross-check) slightly gummy steps.
  • (Hard first g) Gingerbread. (Flip the sound) Gingerbread.
  • The Prince walked up to her, hopping she wasn't a witch. (Cross-check. Flip the sound. Back up and reread) The Prince walked up to her, hoping she wasn't a witch.
  • Could you help me? Gosh, do you need it? (Use punctuation to enhance phrasing and prosody.) Gosh, do you need it.
  • The Prince couldn't believe his roetten luck. (Flip the sound) . . . rotten luck. 
  • The carriage instidentally (Break the word into chunks) instantly turned back into his former Prince self.

Wow. She was really monitoring for meaning as she read. This conference was a testimony to the power of the CAFE Menu and how focused instruction and layering strategies can help our students be powerful, proficient readers.

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