November 29, 2013
Struggling readers often realize early on that they are not as successful as their more proficient peers. Whether they are struggling with accuracy, fluency, or comprehension, they are often ability-grouped by reading level and spend their instructional time sitting next to readers who have challenges as great or greater than their own.
We are desperate to accelerate the growth of these at-risk students: to help them be reborn as readers who enjoy and understand what they read. The answer may lie in strategy groups. In a strategy group, struggling readers work with classmates of varying levels on a particular skill. It is good for readers who struggle to work with classmates who are more enthusiastic about reading. This type of grouping enables students to build community and see each other with new eyes.
The CAFE system acknowledges that all readers are different. Through strategy groups, the teacher meets with students who need support in like areas, even if they are reading at different instructional levels. These groups are student centered. Each learner concentrates on and applies the strategy to his or her own good-fit text.
Strategy groups are designed to be flexible, with students moving in and out of groups as they gain control of strategies and move to layer on new ones. Because the groups are needs based, not all children are assigned to one. Some students can have all their needs met through individual conferring.
With support from a caring teacher and collaboration with other learners, all children can succeed. Strategy groups uphold the culture of learning in the classroom as students see each other as travelers on the same journey.