Chapter 7 begins with a story about a hairstyle. This certainly had my attention! It was using the image of an old hairdo to discuss how many years of making do with a ‘spray and pray’ method of doing hair had resulted in years of damage.
The sisters mention the ‘spray and pray’ method of teaching reading groups that they had done over the years. Grouping kids in levels and not getting the chance to work on the strategies that each individual child needed assistance with.
The strategy groups is the part of the CAFÉ program that most teachers find challenging. (It’s not just me!)
Even if students are on the same level and grouped accordingly, they still have different needs. Grouping them in strategy groups ensure the students can work on the specific strategy they need assistance with.
Strategy groups are fluid. Students are moved in and out of groups regularly; with students on similar or different levels.
How do I structure and manage a Strategy Group?
· Assess and confer with each student.
· Have Daily 5 up and running smoothly.
· Don’t feel the need to rush strategy groups as it is more important to have daily whole class instruction to ensure students understand the CAFÉ strategies before the Strategy Groups start.
How do I use the Strategy Groups Form?
· At the end of 4-6 weeks and all students have been assessed; Strategy Groups are ready to start.
· To launch a strategy group, students are asked to come to the meeting area with their book boxes (or bags).
· Students take out a text they are using and begin quietly reading aloud.
· The teacher listens in, similar to individual conferences to see whether they are using the strategy.
· After 30-60 seconds, the teacher stops the group and reinforces the group’s goal.
· On the first day of the small group, the teacher models the correct way to use the strategy.
· The goal is then reinforced.
· After this the students can leave to practice on their own or work with a partner.
· The teacher then plans when the group is going to meet next.
· Students can be in more than one Strategy Group.
Strategy Groups in Action:
What does a Typical Morning Looks Like?
· Literacy block starts with a whole class read-aloud and strategy lesson from the CAFÉ menu.
· Names of the students in the first strategy group called.
· Check-in for Daily Five so that the other students are set for independent work.
· Age of the students is the approximate number of minutes they can sustain higher-level thinking with group instruction. (7 year olds=7 minutes, 12 year olds=10-15 minutes)
· Students released after lesson is completed and practice with a partner or individually.
· Teacher gets Pensieve and for the rest of the Daily 5 time they have 3-4 one –on-one conferences.
· The next round of Daily Five starts in 20-30 minutes and it follows the same structure of the first.
· Infants usually have 2 rotations, Primary have 3.
I have yet to start Strategy Groups and I have been very nervous about the whole idea. Studying this chapter has given me the confidence to start them this term. The chapter was very easy to read and the step by step instructions on how to implement the Strategy Groups is foolproof in my opinion.
It was interesting to see what the sisters had mentioned about the number of minutes children can sustain higher-level thinking with group instruction directly correlating with their age. It makes sense and is great to think about in the classroom on a daily basis.
1. Who is using Strategy Groups in the classroom? Are your students progressing and changing groups regularly?
2. How are your Strategy Groups different to Reading Groups you may have used in the past?
3. Is anyone else completing two Daily Five rotations daily, similar to the ‘Typical Morning’ suggested by The Sisters in Chapter 7? If so do you have any comments or suggestions?