I am getting ready to begin my 2nd year of teaching on August 27th, and CAFE has really impacted how I teach Language Arts in my 6th grade classroom. I quickly discovered that my kids were on such different levels and had such different needs, and my current style of teaching was not going to meet those needs. CAFE was exactly what I needed because my students were able to focus on different stratgies that met their needs.
Chapter 2: The CAFE Notebook and Record-Keeping Forms
If you are like me, you constantly have sticky notes everywhere in your classroom because they are so easy to jot quick little notes down on. Like the Sisters, this is how I started to track things with my students. I quickly ended up with 50+ stickies on my table each day and it became overwhelming. I just thought that stickes would be easiest because I would not be tied down to one certain form. I quickly learned that I was causing way more work for myself than necessary and decided to give the Conferring Notebook a chance.
Discussion Question: How have you previously tracked students and kept track of data during your reading/writing workshop time? If you currently are doing something to the Sisters, what did you do before that?
The Sisters quickly discovered that the best solution was to use a large binder, and I agree with them completely. Once I relaized that the sticky notes were no longer cutting it, I switched to a Conferring Notebook similar to the one that is described in the chapter. By the end of the school year, my notebook had been used and abused. The Sisters suggest buying two noebooks to start the year and that is my plan for this upcoming school year.
Section 1 of the Pensieve: Teacher Notes
This is the section of the notebook that is dedicated to organizing and planning how we are going to spend our time during The Daily 5. The students need to check in on how they will be spedning their time during the stations, and as the teacher we must plan what we are going to be doing too.
1. Calendar- The Sisters mention making appointments with students to check on how they are developing their strategies. If you are like me, if you do not write it down in your planner, it doesn't happen. By showing the students in our notebook that we have an appointment with them, they will also be held more accountable because they know that on their day we will be checking with them. This also turns into a to-do list for us as the teacher because we know exactly who we need to meet with.
2. Keeping Track Form- This is my personal favorite that the Sister use because it is a quick way to notice who you've met with and how many times you have met with them. In my classroom I feel that sometimes I do not spend enough time with all of my students on an individual basis and this form really helped me to do that.
3. Strategy Groups Forms- This is a form that can be used to help you track your strategy groups that you meet with in a small group setting. I personally use the form that is provided on the CD in the back of the text.
Discussion Question: What are your must have notes that you like to keep on your groups and individual students? Have you ever done something similar to the calendar to keep track of appointments with your students?
Section 2 of the Pensieve: Dividers/Tabs for Each Child
It is important that in addition to monitoring students within their strategy groups that we are also tracking their journey as an individual and their growth as a reader. For each student, your notebook should have a tab that their information can be found under. Under each tab their should be a CAFE menu, a Reading Conference Form, and a Writing Conference Form. All of these documents are avaliable to you via the CD that is included with the text.
I know that some of you are in a self-contained classroom where keeping a conferring notebook is not too much of a task, but what do you do when you have 5 classes like I will have this coming school year? This past school year I had 3 sections of 6th grade Language Arts and I simply kept a notebook for each class. My first thought is that I will do the same this coming school year, but it just seems like it will take up so much space. Right now my thought is that I will keep two notebooks. In one notebook I will have the first section of the notebook for all 5 sections that I will be teaching. In the 2nd binder I will keep a tab for each individual student. It might end up driving me crazy, but I think this is how I would like to start the year.
Discussion Question: How do you plan on setting up your binders, or what do you plan on doing if you will not be using the notebook approach to monitor progress?
Do you have a particular type of binder or dividers that you use? Where do you tend to get them from?