Not long ago, Ranchvale Elementary established a “Readers’ Café” in the school gym. Actually, to be more accurate, the third-graders at RV set up the Readers’ Café.
The next in Ranchvale’s series of Learning Assemblies, this innovative approach in school assemblies has been a great success and particularly memorable for all students; those presenting as well as those serving as the audience.
Ranchvale’s Learning Assemblies were conceived by former principal, Renee Mestas, and enthusiastically continued by current principal, Cara Malone, as an interactive learning opportunity for all students at this elementary school. The idea is for each grade level — beginning with sixth, then fifth, then fourth, and so on - to creatively present a program for the monthly Learning Assembly to the grades below, focusing on something they learned from any subject area, creatively presented.
The Readers’ Café was the result of Ranchvale third graders wanting a very interactive reading experience for their younger audience, which included kindergarten through second grade students. Third graders underwent several challenges in preparing their presentation; for example, selecting appropriate books for their audiences’ reading-level. Third grade was divided into various groups: Hosts/hostesses who oriented and escorted small groups to a snugly rug or mat in reading areas where the “audience” members settled in for an interactive reading experience. The “readers” presented their “audience” with a selection of books, and then delved into their guided reading experience. This included discussing vocabulary, asking questions, prompting the listeners to make predictions or summarize.
Third-grade teachers Sara Morris and Vicki Guiffre did a wonderful job of assisting students in their preparation. “Readers had practiced with fellow classmates on their reading-aloud skills; for example, inflection, volume, articulating well, which really paid off during the actual presentation.”
I squeezed my way into one of the small “audience” groups of first graders being escorted to a reading mat and stretched out alongside to experience first-hand the presentation. It was wonderful to hear these older third-grade readers solicitously interacting with the younger listeners, as they helped them with their book choices and then proceeded with their guided reading experience. The listeners — not only my fellow ones — but also all of the others around the gym I noticed, sneaking a peek around — were totally immersed in the experience.
Later Principal Malone noted, “What’s great in this interactive format you can’t tell the high readers from the low readers … everyone is actively, productively engaged.”
Sitting at one point next to parent, Tacorra Jones, whose husband is stationed at Cannon Air Force Base, offered positive feedback: “My third-grade son is in his second year at Ranchvale, and there is a phenomenal quality at this school; we love it!” This, about the current experience and the school as a whole.
Helen Caldicott noted, “Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth.”
Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at