Don't we all secretly desire a perfect scope and sequence that would ensure that all our children become proficient readers? Well, if it was out there, we know everyone would be using it already! The real world of teaching will never be that tidy. Our children come with a variety of strengths and needs and require instruction specifically tailored to their development. The CAFE Menu is simply a resource that empowers us to determine and facilitate explicit and timely instruction. Yet following the CAFE Menu in a prescribed order is the least effective way to meet the needs of our students.
However, if you are new to the CAFE Menu or just need a bit of support with where to begin, we keep this rule of thumb in mind: 6-5-4-3.
If a child is working on comprehension and we aren't sure which strategy to start with, we pick one of the first six strategies under Comprehension. If Accuracy is their goal and we are wondering where to begin, we start with one of the first five. If we need guidance regarding Fluency or Vocabulary goals, we simply select one of the first four or three.
Once the strategy is identified, we teach and monitor frequently to assess its appropriateness for the child. We find that some of the hardest work we do is getting started with a child's goal and strategy. Once we get into the day-to-day work with them, understand them better, and reflect on our teaching, the subsequent strategies reveal themselves quite naturally.
Focusing on a child's specific needs honors where they are as a learner and provides instruction more meaningfully than an exact scope and sequence ever could.