We are currently implementing the Daily 5/ Cafe in our Kindergarten-8th grade classrooms. I would like to know what resources other middle school teachers are using for focus lessons. Are you using picture books with middle schoolers to teach strategies or are you using short excerpts out of chapter books? If you are using picture books, which ones have you found to be most appropriate for middle schoolers? Thank you for any help that you can provide!





Andrea Pino

I am in the same boat. I am an 8th grade teacher but I haven’t seen any teachers at my grade level. I am a “newbie” with CAFE/Daily 5 and would like to hear from some 7th/8th grade teachers who have been using the system.

Ann Hockenberry

I am also attempting to implement the Daily 5 / CAFE this year (which is almost over!). I haven’t been very successful; so, I took the class at Upper Iowa University and it’s help me to understand where my implementation was weak. My plans for next year are different. As for what books to use for Focus Lessons, I did use picture books. I have found that how I prep the class makes all the difference. I would love to stay in touch with others teaching Daily 5 / CAFE in middle school. Somewhere on the site I saw there are some high schools implementing Daily 5 / CAFE as well.

Ann Hockenberry

Hello fellow teachers! I see over 200 people have read these posts regarding middle school implementation of the Daily5/CAFE. Wonderful! Please share your thoughts…especially those of you in middle school. I had heard that in middle school only 3 areas are recommended to focus on: comprehension, writing and vocabulary. Is there any truth to this? Is there a blog or something where the Sisters talk about middle school? I have seen the information on how to arrange a middle school classroom but that is all. Thanks!

Emily Brown

I would think a combination of picture books, chapter excerpts, and informational articles would be a great blend for Daily 5 in the middle school. Here is a link to jump start some ideas for picture books. There also links to subject areas, themes, genres, and read alouds.
Good luck! I hope some others will join in!


Yes, the Sisters do talk about how Comprehension, Vocabulary and Work on Writing as the main areas of focus, as most of the kids have the Accuracy strategies down. (If Fluency is a problem, it’s usually caused by a lack of success in the other areas.)

Diane Gore

I teach seventh grade Language Arts. I have wanted to do a gathering place and use more of the Daily 5 and Cafe strategies in my class room. One year I did the gathering place and there were a number of students that complained, so I did other pieces of the Daily 5 and Cafe, but not as much of the gathering place part. This year, I told myself, I was going to stick with it and try it. So far it has worked well, especially with a class that needs to gather more frequently as we are working on instilling the Daily protocols. We have 50 minute class periods so I do not do gathering each day, but I use it if students need a brain break, and to do focus skills. Yesterday, I did reading to someone and a small group reading with me. The group with me gathered on the rug doing story time and strategies. It was great. I might need help getting up off the floor, but it was fun. I am looking forward to doing more focused strategies with groups in this way.


Sounds like you’re making it work for you :). Your kids will probably love helping you get up! I wonder if you might want to look for some stackable tubs/boxes, etc. that might work as “portable seating” when you turn them upside down for your gathering area. Or maybe some pillows. it is true that some older kids don’t really like sitting the the floor (and you can get a little boost, as well),


Saw this site on Pinterest with some milk crates ideas.


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Find and save ideas about Milk crate seats on Pinterest. | See more ideas about Crate seating, Crate seats and Milk crate chairs.

Trish Rathmell

I agree with you. We need books that focus on older students in the videos and a list of books available to use model from videos they post.

Yvette Garcia

I am attempting to implement Daily 5/CAFE in my 7/8th grade combo classes. I am also struggling with focus lessons. I am also wondering if there is a CAFE type menu for writing conferences.


I’m going to refer you to this conversation on the Discussion Board about Writing Strategies.

Are Your Writing Strategies Displayed?

Oh course not! I'll send them your way in a few minutes :). Let me know what you think–we're always striving to improve upon them.


I know that many 6/7/8 grade teachers feel they need books at a higher reading levesl for focus lessons. However, I would challenge you to look not so much at the reading level, but at the genre and author’s craft to help find books for your focus lessons. Not every book listened to or read has to be exactly at our reading level (think of yourselves as readers–do you only read books at your reading levels ?).
For example, books by Ruth Heller (which are considered picture books) Discuss some science concepts written in rhyme. Many Lio Lionni books also incorporate science concepts, great vocabulary and text connections to actual science books.
There are fabulous books to be used for inferring and the use of literary elements that are already on this site in the Lit Lesson section–you just need to use a little imagination to adjust them for lessons appropriate for your kids.
If you contact a librarian who is familiar with “children’s lit”, s/he could give you a list of great books to use for these purposes.
After you have used “kiddie lit” (I hate that term ) books to introduce your strategies, you can begin to look in grade level texts to make text to text connections to show how authors at all levels use similar literary techniques in their writing.

Rebecca Jordan

I am teaching 5th-8th grade this year in a one room school house type of school. Yes they still exist. LOL. I was wondering if and how everyone else is introducing the different strategies of the CAFE menu. I have started to introduce them by using some of the examples on the Daily 5 website and just tweaking them for my age group. But I think my kids still need to work on some of the strategies more than once. I guess my problem is how do I reteach a strategy without teaching the exact same lesson I did before.


Sounds like you have a very interesting position :). I think you’re doing the right thing by adapting the lessons on the site. How about if you show how the strategy you’ve taught through different genres or pieces of literature they are reading? We all need to have lots of repetitions of new learning, so I think you need to feel comfortable with that idea.
Wish you the best of luck with your kiddos!


I teach 5th grade and I use picture books to teach everything. I find picture books the best to work with because they can reach many read levels and are fairly short so I can generally read the whole book (the kids hate it when I only use a section, they want the whole book). It is a rare picture book that I can’t find layers and layers of which to teach with. If judged by their surface they don’t seem very useful for older kids but once you really start looking at what the writer is saying beyond the obvious a reader can find all kinds of interesting things. Another cool part of using these books are the pictures. Many times there is another whole story going on in the pictures! It is just magical!!
I find this blog of a 7th grade teacher extremely helpful check it out!!


Thank you so much for this great resource! Also, have yo checked out the Lit Lessons and Book Looks here on the site?

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