Whether you’re a parent who’s teaching their child how to read, a teacher searching for instructional strategies, or a student desiring to improve their reading, we can look to the tried and trusted CAFE Literacy approach to strengthen reading comprehension. The CAFE Literacy system breaks reading into the strands of Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Expanded Vocabulary. Studies have shown that by approaching reading through these four lenses, student engagement and reading comprehension improve. As a teacher who has implemented this instructional strategy with students, I can attest to its effectiveness for students of all ages and learning abilities. Here are a few of CAFE’s strategies I found most effective as a teacher and learner!
Check for Understanding
What: At regular intervals throughout the text, students should ask themselves “who did I read about and what just happened?”
Why: Not only will this strategy consistently engage readers and encourage them to recall important details, but will also serve as a checkpoint in understanding and prevent any build up in confusion. Eventually, Checking for Understanding should become automatic.
How: Parents and teachers can model this by stopping throughout the text and summarizing what was just read. Sticky notes or bookmarks can be placed at the end of each chapter or every few pages to remind students to engage in this process.
Ask Questions Throughout the Reading Process
What: Students will ask themselves questions before, during and after reading the text.
Why: This strategy will engage readers and encourage them to actively reflect on the text.
How: Teachers and parents can illustrate the significance of asking questions throughout the text as a way to gain focus, read with purpose, and increase understanding. To start, students can create a list of questions and post it on the wall or on the cover of their book as a prompt. We can model and elicit thinking by asking questions such as:
- What does this mean?
- Why is this important?
- What did I learn?
- What does this word mean?
Predict What Will Happen Next and Use Text to Confirm
What: Students will predict what will happen in the story using support from the text, and will later determine how accurate their predictions were.
Why: Students will be more engaged in the text through thinking ahead.
How: Teachers and parents can initially model this strategy by talking aloud and predicting. Younger readers, teachers and parents can use this strategy by focusing on images and text features (titles, captions etc.). This strategy can be implemented before and during reading by documenting predictions on sticky notes and modifying/correcting them as the text progresses.
Connections to Self, World, and Text
What: Students will reflect on how the text they’re reading connects with personal experiences and knowledge, the world around them, and other texts they’ve read.
Why: This process not only allows readers to think critically about what they’re reading, but also allows deeper understanding as they draw and compare personal relationships.
How: Students and teachers can probe students on what similarities or differences the text at hand compares with other experiences or knowledge the student has. Drawing examples from life, current events, or other texts will support this.
For more information on the CAFE Literacy program visit their website here.