Daily Five Reading and Literacy CAFE

by Matt

Literacy CAFE board is used with Daily Five Reading to anchor students to reading strategies taught throughout the year.

During the 2008-2009 school year I began using The Sisters’ (Gail Boushey and Joan Moser) process of teaching balanced literacy to my fourth grade students: Daily Five Reading and CAFE Literacy. Periodically I will post information, videos, or examples of how I am implementing this balanced literacy structure.

Daily Five Reading and Literacy CAFE

Daily Five Reading is just one more way to organize your balanced literacy instruction. It is very similar to what some people call “Reading Workshop” or “Reader’s Workshop”. Personally, I love how Daily Five Reading is structured around current reading and brain research and how it builds student independence. The Daily Five is a structure that helps students develop the daily habits of reading, writing, and working independently for a lifetime of literacy independence.

Daily Five consists of five components that students (ideally) practice daily:

  • Read to Self,
  • Read to Someone,
  • Listen to Reading,
  • Word Work,
  • Work on Writing

If Daily Five Reading is the structure for students, Literacy CAFE is the structure of teaching reading strategies and assessing students. CAFE stands for:

  • Comprehension,
  • Accuracy,
  • Fluency,
  • Expanding Vocabulary.

Through mini-lessons taught each day, strategies are added to the CAFE board (see picture above) and referred back to as necessary.

Here is a quick video snapshot of my classroom. Students are engaged in Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Work on Writing. In this video students chose which component of Daily Five Reading they wanted to work on, so all three activities are going on simultaneously. Students on the computers are writing science presentations, while other students are actively reading.

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Want to Know More?

Interested in learning more about Daily Five Reading or CAFE Literacy? Read related articles about Daily Five Reading and CAFE Literacy:

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jo September 26, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I am a retired teacher and I sub in Daily Five and Cafe rooms. What a fabulous program. Good for you in using it and sharing your classroom experiences!!


2 Matt September 26, 2010 at 10:52 pm

Thank you Jo,

When I found the Daily Cafe, I thought it was a perfect fit for my beliefs in a child centered, comfortable classroom. It has worked great and several other teachers around my school have started using it as well. With 33 students it was hard to consistently work with all the students, but it did help create a more personalized, humane environment that both the kids and I really enjoyed.



3 Scott Carolan March 31, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Hi Matt,

I enjoyed reading about how you’re working this program into your classroom. My question is: From which “camp” does this program fall into? Traditional, Progressive or Critical? It seems to me that it sits firmly in the Progressive pedagogy camp. Any thoughts?

Also, if we were to turn this into a Critical pedagogy, then would it be as simple as adding social justice literature?

Thanks for any clarification – Scott


4 Matt April 16, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the comment. I really appreciate your question…it is good food for thought.

I think the Daily Five is a structure or system used to implement a balanced literacy program. I would say that it is a “structure” or “system” because the instruction and management are so closely tied together. The system is based on research in the field of literacy and motivation and grounded in practice developed over years of teaching. If you are familiar with other balanced-literacy program, you will undoubtedly see familiar pieces in the Daily Five.

Having said that, the approach is very learner-centered and learner-empowering. It is learner-empowering I think, in that it helps students become more aware and in charge of their own learning preferences, strengths, challenges, and choices when it comes to learning to read. I don’t know if I would place it in any of the three camps you mentioned, but if I had to pick, I would think that it might fit more closely within the Progressive camp that the other two. [Though I wonder if a classroom centered around current learning and motivation research is Progressive…shouldn’t it just be what everyone is doing now…?] While I think adding “social justice literature” would add another dimension of learning and awareness to the students, it seems that just adding a certain type of literature wouldn’t be enough to call it Critical pedagogy. Perhaps it would be a step in that direction…

What do you think? I’d love to hear more from you Scott, or others!


5 Julie April 16, 2011 at 10:24 pm

I am a 4th grade teacher in Little Falls, MN. We are apparently going to begin the “Daily 5 and Cafe” next Fall. Unforunately, we will not be trained or anything until workshop week the end of August. I am a highly organized teacher, so I am out there “googling” 4th grade teachers using this program, and that is how I found your site. I’m wondering if you could share any info, resources, ANYTHING, to help prepare me (and my classroom for next fall). Thanks so much!!!!!


6 Matt April 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Hi Julie,

I am happy to share some resources with you. First, make sure to (1) read the Daily 5 and Daily Cafe books. There were extremely helpful and definitely one of those “written by a teacher, for a teacher” resources, (2) check out the Daily Cafe website. It has a lot of articles, videos, and other resources that are extremely helpful. The website also has several DVDs you can purchase (They are quite expensive though), (3) watch this blog as I plan to publish several more posts regarding my experience, classroom set-up, etc. about the Daily Five, (4) check out my classroom website 37Stars for some more informtion, (5) use the contact form to shoot me an email with some contact information and I am happy to talk with you directly.

In general, I loved the philosophy and approach of the Daily Five. I will say that in order to maximize the program you must really take your time with the students at the beginning going setting up the expectations and procedures. It may seem like it will take forever, but the more time you take to practice and build stamina with high expectations, the smoother the year will go. At times, it can seem like you are wasting time or “behind” other teachers, but once your students are plugged in, you can really fly. It is definitely one of those “go slow [now], to go fast [later]” things. I have seen teachers not take the necessary time to engage students in building stamina and I doubt (based on observation) that students are learning much of anything.

Thanks for the comment,


7 Jean June 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm

I am being told that our school will be embracing the Daily 5 next year. I am teaching a multi-grade (3-4-5) combination of about 20 students in all. The grade 3 class is 6 students, grade 4 is 6 students and grade 5 is currently made up of 9 students. Of these students there are numerous students who do not work well in small groups or in situations where moving from one location to another in the room is required. I have been working on this last area for 2 years now with this group of 9 and there are 3 students that find it impossible to do. What suggestions do your have. (oh yes…..add into this a couple of ADHD students who were diagnosed but parents refuse to accept, 2 more that are on meds, an FASD student and another couple with behavioural difficulties) I need HELP in how to make transitions from stations as painless as possible.


8 Nora Campbell March 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm

I just love this! Thanks for sharing!!!


9 Suzanne November 12, 2013 at 5:02 am

Hi, I have been teaching middle and high school special education in the US for many years and am traind in individualized reading programs. I am now teaching 5th grade at an International school overseas. I have a 90 minute LA block each morning and am just recently starting the Daily Five. After searching through tons of information on implementing this program you have a great web site here! Thank you very much!!! Suzanne


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