The Second CAFE Lesson—Cross-Checking


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The strategy we choose to introduce each day depends on our group of students and their needs. The exception to this is the first two lessons. We always teach Check for Understanding on the first day, and since Cross Checking is a strategy we use into adulthood, we teach it on the second day that we introduce the CAFE Menu. It sounds something like this:

“Class, I am going to read to you, and as I read, I am going to keep modeling the comprehension strategy Check for Understanding, which we learned yesterday.”

We point to the strategy card on the CAFE Menu. “Remember, comprehension means that I understand what I read.”

We begin reading the book aloud, stopping periodically to check for understanding, pointing to that strategy card on our CAFE Menu each time to anchor the modeling and conversation to the visual organizer, the CAFE Menu. We’ve found that students will refer to the walls if we constantly refer to them ourselves.

“Class, I have already modeled a strategy that readers use to comprehend or understand what they read. As I read this book, I will continue to show you how readers use that strategy, and I’ll also introduce you to another important strategy used by all readers, even adults. This next strategy is called Cross Checking and it fits right here under Accuracy on our CAFE Menu. Accuracy means I can read the words.”

I stop to point to the Accuracy area of the CAFE Menu. While reading the book, I continue to model Check for Understanding. At one point in the story, I read a word incorrectly when I come to it. “My brain just told me that didn’t seem right. When a word doesn’t seem right, I ask myself three questions.”

Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?

First, does it look right?

“Point to your eye and ask, Does it look right? With this cue, we attend to the visual properties of the word. Did our pronunciation match the letters in the word?” 

Next, does it sound right?

“Point to your ear and ask, Does it sound right? This cue asks us to tune in to the grammar and linguistics of the word. Does it sound grammatically correct? Does it sound like a word we have heard before? Does it sound like a real word?” Our arms are now crossed, representing the idea of cross-checking.

Lastly, does it make sense?

“Uncross your arms, point to your brain, and ask, Does it make sense? This cue brings us back to the importance of comprehension. Reading should always make sense.”

“All three of these things need to be in place. By tuning in to all three of these cues, we can really improve our accuracy when we read.”

We demonstrate and think aloud as we cross-check and figure out the word. We model again with a different word, stopping at the end of the sentence with the misread word and say, “Something didn’t make sense. I’m going to go back and cross check to figure out the word that didn’t seem right.”

We back up and read the sentence again, this time taking note of which word was causing problems. We repeat the procedure above, figure the word out, and reread it smoothly. At the end of the story, we review: “Class, we just revisited the comprehension strategy of Check for Understanding. You also saw and heard me use a new strategy for Accuracy called Cross Checking. Remember that accuracy means ‘I can read the words.’” Point them out on the CAFE Menu.

We ask a student to put the following on a blank strategy card (writing on a sticky note for them to copy if they need it):

Cross Checking—Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense?

Then it is posted on the CAFE Menu under Accuracy and we celebrate!

“Wow, we have two strategy cards up on our CAFE Menu! These two strategies are often used every time we read. We’ll practice these strategies all year long as we add more to our CAFE Menu.”

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