Our reading facilitator has experience with Balanced Literacy and said it didn't work in her other school because of "holes". How is Cafe/Daily Five different than Balanced Literacy? I realize that any method is only as good as the person teaching it, but will my students be better readers by the end of the year if we aren't using our basals and prescribed program? I guess I'm asking for reassurance that I am doing the right thing. Test scores are a big deal, and I want to make sure ours go up!
My reading facilitator said the same thing... we have a very prescribed reading curriculum in our school, and a few of us are completely abandoning it and trying out Cafe/D5. We spoke with our facilitator about it, who was willing to let us try this out because we will probably be adopting a new curriculum next year. It seems like there are many skeptics about what we're doing, but we are VERY excited about it, and are looking forward to much success so we can prove them wrong!! I would be interested to see what others say as well...
We are on our second year of our 5-year implementation plan for Balanced Literacy. Though I am certainly not a reading specialist, I feel as though Cafe is an incredible asset to a balanced literacy program and Daily Five is the piece that allows it to happen successfully. I will eventually be using mini-lessons from Readers and Writers' Workshop, (next Monday I start in fact!) in addition to the Cafe lessons that I've already started and can't wait to begin strategy groups. I do feel that if I wasn't doing Cafe there could be some holes depending on what a teacher does to fill the time. However, I am feeling very confident that my students will grow much more than they did with the basal and never-ending workbook pages. On top of that, they already show such a LOVE of reading and writing. Motivation and interest is key in everything. With Daily Five and Cafe, my kids are already on their way to success.
Balanced Literacy is wonderful, but you have to have on the ball/knowledgeble teachers. It is very difficult for a novice teacher or a teacher who doesn't want to do the "thinking" to have a successful balanced lit program. It (just like Cafe/Daily 5) is all about the teacher, through constant assessment, knowing and providing what readers need. The holes come in because many teachers haven't taken the initiative to learn how readers learn and what they need to develop as readers. That is why the scripted programs have become so popular...anybody can follow the book. Even though they don't take into account what the readers in the class actually need. They are easier for the teacher...
"...easier for the teacher." Starley, you hit it right on the head. I still remember when I started teaching first grade and they used some hideous curriculum called Companion Reading. The kids had to read words (some real, some nonsense) off of charts everyday and then had to do the same type of worksheet every single day. The poor things didn't hold a real book in their hands until the last quarter of school!! It made me absolutely SICK! I tried so hard to find ways around the same routine; but also was bullied by some of the "seasoned" teachers...it was so horrible. Two years later, the reading specialist got that horrible program out and the principal made the teachers turn in everything because he had a feeling they'd hide stuff somewhere and still use it! Well, that didn't stop them...they just took the new curriculum and created "companion-like" sheets! Fast forward 6 years and they are so defying the new balanced literacy ways! The kids are still getting worksheets behind their closed doors. Sigh. What can you do?!!
You said it: constant assessment and knowing what readers need and providing it. The ultimate differentiation as far as I'm concerned.
I had a discussion with a new teacher yesterday about the scripted program. He was praising the scripted program because it allowed him to teach what "needed to be taught" without having to reinvent the wheel, while I was trying to convince him that the program was one-size-fits-all and generic. All I can say about our scripted program is that it is teacher-proof so any clueless or less-than-motivated teacher can follow it. If I have a sub, all I have to do is put some post-its and tell them to say those parts to the kids.
I teach in a balanced literacy district (we haven't had a basal in about 10 years). Balanced Literacy does work. Teachers need to be on board, and they need to be open minded. I think it's hard for teachers who are used to a basal and very scripted program (and like, want, or need that scriptedness) to leave that behind and go to something that is a little more "free".
CAFE/Daily 5 and balanced literacy are a perfect fit and aren't really too dissimilar. Balanced literacy is: independent reading, shared reading, guided reading, and read aloud. CAFE/Daily 5 really is all of those. The shared reading part is more of the minilessons, and the guided reading is the strategy grouping. There are some differences but nothing too different.
I honestly couldn't imagine being tied to a basal and very scripted program. I LOVE the freedom to do what I feel is best practice and best for my students. I would have a really hard time teaching a "one size fits all" program when we know that is NOT what is best for students! CAFE/Daily 5 and balanced literacy allow teachers to differentiate instruction and truly meet the needs of our students.
I really don't see the difference between Balanced Literacy and Daily 5/CAFE. In every way, Daily 5 is Balanced Literacy b/c it hits all 5 components of literacy.
I think Balanced literacy gets a bad name b/c of schools that don't really teach effectively or don't really understand reading. You must teach phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension to be a balanced literacy school.And it must be geared toward your students (assessment/progress monitoring) and please not worksheets.
I am so happy to read these posts! I have been working swimming against the tide for a number of years. Balanced Literacy takes some "thinking" on the teacher's part, and so many I work with don't want to step off of the prescribed curriculum that tells them which lesson to teach today, and which to teach tomorrow, not even taking into account if the students got the lesson or not. The guide says.....I have read the Daily 5 and have been trained in Guided Reading and am so looking forward to another year away from the "curriculum" and toward students enjoying reading, at their level! Thanks for the blast of positive thoughts and opinions here... it really made my day and makes me want to reread Daily 5 and buy CAFE. I so want my students to have a love for reading which included understanding what they read, not just reading a bunch of words really fast.