Engaging Students: Coffee House Edition

This blog post is about setting the stage to engage. I am not naïve to think that my students are going to retain everything or most of what I teach them. They will probably forget MOST. But I do know, they are more apt to remember certain concepts when they are engaged or are creating a memory. I try my best to make the "boring" more enjoyable. Some may ask "why" or say "what a waste of time"..... or better yet, "you have too much time on your hands". Hahaha. These all may be true. But if you think back to being in elementary school (specifically grade 6 & 7), what do you remember? Probably not the formulas, or specific textbooks readings, but rather the "goodtimes" or memories.

Below is a brief summary of a Coffee House (Book Summary Sampling Party) I hosted with my kiddos this week. Can't say how happy I was with the outcome! My students loved it, and I got some terrific writing out of it.

We have been working on summaries--How to recap what we've read, using/citing text evidence. My students read 15-20 min. independently throughout the day. I will often provide them with questions pertaining to a certain reading strategy that we have been working on, to answer in regards to their book/reading of choice.

This week, my students were asked to summarize the key points/main ideas of what they read 'that day'. That evening, I asked them to go home and type this summary out on their Google Doc Accounts and to print a copy off and bring back to school. The next day, I had them glue their summaries on a large piece of paper (see below). During the next reading block, I had my class rotate around to each students desk, reading their summaries and providing peer feedback. This allowed students to see how others write, common writing errors (such as spelling and grammar), and get an idea of what kids their age are reading.

Their comments were written on the edge of the paper, using an arrow linking to the error or feedback point.

From there, I booked time on the computer/Chrome Books for students to log back into their Google Accounts, and make adjustments to their summaries. Many needed more text examples or needed to provide more info to the reader, making their summaries more easily understood.

The following day, the students re-printed their "good copy" of their summaries. And I held a Summary Sampling Coffee House.
I picked up some hot chocolate, and put out some goodies. Funny how simple things make the students uber eager. I put on Jazz Music, trying to resemble a real coffee house. Now, don't get me wrong,.... I have a group that can handle all of this. If this was a group that couldn't, I would eliminate food etc. and just set up a mini-sampling with music or eliminate the "extras" altogether.

From there, I had the students slip their summaries into a plastic sleeve covering and put their current independent book on their desk.

Students then rotated around the room reading summaries, providing feedback on "Summary Sampling Sheets", listening to music, and enjoying a beverage.

At the end of the period, the students returned back to their seats to read the feedback. They stuck the feedback sheets into the back of their plastic coverings and handed them in to be assessed.
We had a discussion about best writing and reading practices, and how important text support is when we read and write.

It was an activity I would DEFINITELY do again. Not just for summaries, but other activities. It was an experience and memory, rather than just a paper/pencil task, with no meaning. 
I put this activity in a mini-pack that you can check out below.

Here's a sneak preview of the pack.

This pack includes: *How to run a Summary Sampling Party/Coffee House
*Anchor chart on how to write a summary
*Fiction Summary Checklist
*Fiction Summary Checklist -mini-version for students
*Non-Fiction Summary Checklist
*Non-Fiction Checklist -mini-version for students
*What to include on the "day of" your summary party
*Success Criteria & Learning Goal Printables to display
*Peer Feedback Summary Sheets (Sampling Cards)
*Pictures from my Summary Sampling Party/Coffee House

Click here to go to TpT to see more.

Set the stage to engage, when possible, and see how it transforms your classroom :)

Happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping in :)


  1. Love love this idea!! What an engaging way to teach and learn! Fab as always ;). Hope you and baby E are doing great! Xo

    1. Thanks, Jacqui! :)
      Mama E and Baby E are doing great! Thanks, lady xo
      Hopefully you will be coming in for me when I leave this group! They rock and so do you,


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