search navigation
October 31. 2017

Teacher Tip: What To Do When A Student Has Read All of the Benchmark Assessment System Books

In order to get an accurate assessment using the Benchmark Assessment System and obtain observable evidence of what a student can process and understand independently it's important that the student not have already read any of the books. Sometimes, however, you might have students who seem to have "slid" back a level, perhaps over the summer or holidays. So what do you do when your students have already read the books? Here are some steps to consider: 
  • It is critical to look at The Literacy Continuum and determine what strategies need to be taught to a student who is not progressing beyond a specific level. Start there, and use other forms instruction, e.g., guided reading, to assess the student by observing what he or she specifically needs to help them process texts.
  • You can also take a quick and informal assessment by having the student read aloud from one or two other leveled books from your classroom library. Assess the percentage of words read accurately and note specific errors (substitutions, omissions, insertions). You will have an assessment of accuracy and also insights into the kind of information the child is using when errors are made (for example, words that look like other words, or words that are inaccurate but make sense). Errors can sometimes illustrate a child’s strengths and give you insights into how to help him or her.
  • When following the oral reading, involve the child in a conversation that will help you know what he or she understood from the text. You can ask several questions but the assessment should not feel like an interrogation. You could try to ask questions similar to the Benchmark Assessment System prompts.
  • If the level of the text is too difficult, move down the levels until you find something the child can read at instructional level with good understanding.
When you are simply trying to teach to the level, without fine tuning their instruction based on the individual student needs, we end up with students not progressing.
October 27. 2017

Twitter Chat RECAP: Turning Your Vision Into Action

On Thursday, October 26th, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted a Twitter Chat on Turning Your Vision Into Action. People from all over the country to join the conversation, sharing their own classroom visions and discussing what it takes to make their visions a reality. Some favorite tweets included: 

Teaching isn’t something you master; you’re never done. A sign of teaching excellence is continuous learning.More...
October 27. 2017

FAQ Friday: Why Is It Important That the Child Not Have Read the Benchmark Assessment System Books Before?

Q: Why is it important that the child not have read the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) books before? 

A: BAS is a standardized, formal assessment administered with an unseen, unfamiliar text so that the teacher can obtain observable evidence of what the child can do independently in terms of processing and understanding. In Part 1 of the assessment (oral reading), the child works through a new text while the teacher gathers reliable information on how the child solves problems. Part 2 of the assessment (the comprehension conversation) yields data on the child's ability to communicate information within, beyond, and (at Levels L-Z) about the text. In the optional Part 3 (writing about reading), students use another mode of expression to communicate their thinking about a text. The complete assessment conference provides information that helps teachers determine the appropriate instructional text level for each student and to group students for guided reading instruction. If the text is familiar to the child, or if the content is discussed previously with him or her, the assessment will not provide valid data for placement.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

October 27. 2017

Ask Meli! October, 2017

Meli has been busy answering her fan mail! She loves reading all of your wonderful letters because you are such great writers! This month, Meli answers questions from Landon, Elle, and Will from Northwestern Elementary School in Mardela Springs, MD.

Q: Dear Meli, My group read your book "The Problem with Meli" this week. I would like to learn about you. Why does Ron take you for a walk? Do you bark anymore? I learned that you bark a lot. I thought it was interesting that you watch TV. ~Landon

: Thanks for the letter and the wonderful picture that you drew for me. I still bark sometimes - especially when I see a squirrel - but I try very hard to be a good dog. Woof! Meli

Q: Dear Meli, My group read your book "The Problem with Meli" this week. I would like to ask some questions. How old are you? Where did the blanket come from? Do you like to play? Do you like to watch TV? Do you like to take a bath? I like your toy an leash. ~Elle

: I liked getting your letter with so many good questions. I am 11 years old now, and I still like to play and go to the park. I watch TV, but I like being outside running around the best. Woof! Meli

Q: Dear Meli, My group read your book "The Problem with Meli" this week. What time do you go to bed? Where did you get the blanket with your name on it? Do you bark anymore? Do you have a garage? Does Ron like to take you outside? I like when you barked at 6 o'clock p.m. Do you like having a neighborhood? ~Will

: Thanks for writing to me! Do you like to get letters? In answer to your question, I go to be at 10 pm. That seems late, but I take a lot of naps during the day. Woof! Meli

Meli woud love to hear about your favorite genres to read! You can let her know in your letters along with any more questions. And don’t miss the NEW Meli books in the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Guided Reading Collection

Please be sure to send your letters to Meli c/o The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801. And don't forget to Tweet your questions to @FountasPinnell with #FPAskMeli.

See you soon!

~Meli and The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team

October 24. 2017

Teacher Tip: Help Students Make Good Independent Reading Choices

Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading. 

Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
Give the book a good chance.

Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2013 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

October 20. 2017

FAQ Friday: Extra BAS Books

Q: Are there additional/supplemental texts for the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System?

A: No. The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System revolves around the idea that students should be continuously progressing throughout the year. If a student is assessed at, for example, Level M at the beginning of the year, the goal is for them to be at level N or higher by the next assessment. In some cases, it is necessary or preferred to reassess a student at the same level, which is why each level includes two books: one fiction and one nonfiction. But beyond that, the student should really be progressing to the next level.

If you are finding that a student is 'stuck' at a level, take a look at The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum for that level to see in what behaviors the student may be lacking. Then, try and focus your teaching around cultivating those behaviors.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>