After experimenting with the Daily Five last year, a method for fostering independence, especially for younger learners, I am keen to refine my Literacy Block this year. So, I have begun delving into Boushey and Moser’s “Literacy Café”, a sort of follow up to their Daily Five book.
The Café offers a toolkit of sorts for effective classroom management of the Literacy Block, with a particular emphasis on assessment-driven instruction. The format is attractive, the writing style very readable. And yet, after just a cursery perusal of the various sections of the book, I already felt uneasy.
It didn’t take me long to figure out why: Here was yet another book written by teachers who appear to have nearly three hours uninterrupted each morning for literacy!
The “sample timetables” in the book included very little emphasis on Math, Social Studies and Science, and no Phys.Ed or Arts at all! Even if the school you teach at does not offer music, drama, dance or visual art (for shame!), surely at least some of the other curriculum areas are so robust as to require some intensive instruction beyond 40 minutes every other day, no? I had to laugh at their curriculum calendar template, which included 8 spaces for literacy-related focus topic (comprehension strategy, writing form, phonics/spelling skill, etc.), and only one for math, (“math strategy”)! Having just embarked on a major math and technology project in my own classroom this year, I can assure you that to do even a basic, no-frills job that acceptably addresses the many, many curriculum expectations in the five strands of math will take up considerably more space in my “curriculum calendar”, tee hee!
Many of the strategies and the ideas presented in the Café Book are sound, practical ideas for most teachers, and the book is written, as I said earlier, in a friendly, invitational manner. However, I will have to read Boushey and Moser’s offerings with a critical lens and a healthy dose of realism as I consider the rich curriculum context in which the Ontario Teacher applies the learning from this text.