March 7. 2017

Ten Suggestions for Extending the Meaning of Texts

Extending the meaning of a text involves representing or reflecting on the text students have just read in a guided reading lesson in some way, which, in turn, extends thinking. Students will just have processed a more challenging text, which means they are in an optimal position to extend their understanding. Here are ten suggestions for extending the meaning of texts:

1. Discuss the book in pairs or threesomes.

2. Diagram the internal organizational structures in texts--compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, sequence, question/answer, story map.

3. Prepare graphic organizers (a character web or a timeline, for example) to reveal the author's craft.

4. Comment on the text in interactive or shared writing.

5. Describe characters, summarize sections of the text, or make a list of key ideas in interactive or shared writing.

6. Respond with "quick writes" that can be shared later.

7. Respond with "quick sketches" that support thinking and can be used as a basis for more talk or writing.

8. Present a readers' theater piece using portions of the text.

9. Write a poem about the book.

10. Collect favorite quotes from the text and tell why they chose them.

Because you are always working with texts, these suggestions have endless variations. Extending the meaning may also depend on whether the text is fiction or nonfiction. You will not want to engage your students in tasks after reading unless you have evidence that they need to explore the meaning further or can benefit from the activity as they apply strategies to further reading.

Adapted from Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2006 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

March 2. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 3/2/2017

Learning is ignited with hundred of texts, lessons, and resources to be used during the major instructional contexts

February 28. 2017

Use Interactive Writing as an Opportunity for Children to Learn About Letters: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Early experiences in interactive writing offer kindergarten children an opportunity to learn about letters. At the same time, even though that have very limited knowledge of literacy, they are participating in the construction of a meaningful text. Working with with letters within a known text is a more powerful learning experience than simply working with a letter in isolation. Children are highly engaged because they see that letters have a purpose. And, when they read and write, they must recognize letters that are embedded in words that are embedded in sentences.

During interactive writing, you can draw children's attention to letters and help them learn how to look at them by using the following teaching directives:

  • Have the children say the name of the letter (m).
  • Talk about the features of the letters (a stick and two humps).
  • Demonstrate the motions necessary to make the letter.
  • Talk about the motions while making them (pull down, over and down, over and down).
  • Have the children trace the letter in the air on the floor, talking aloud about the motions while making them.
  • Show the children how to check the letter against a model (alphabet chart or name chart).
  • Show the children how to make connections between the letter and known words, particularly names.
Adapted from Interactive Writing: How Language & Literacy Come Together, K-2 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2000 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

February 24. 2017

Build COHERENCE in Your Classroom with a Multi-text Approach to Literacy Instruction

Fountas and Pinnell  believe that learning deepens when students think, talk, read, and write about authentic texts across many different instructional contexts. They believe that each instructional context should work as a coherent system that improves student outcomes, and creates literacy opportunities for the whole school. In their new system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom, each context works together in a cohesive manner to support the literacy learning of every student. “All play an essential role; they contribute in different ways to each student’s development as readers, writers, and language users,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

The instructional contexts are: interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, and book clubs/literature discussion. You start with high teacher support in shared reading and interactive read-aloud, and gradually release the control over to the students through guided reading and independent reading, while book clubs and literature discussion are woven throughout. The level of support will vary, however, depending on the demands of the text and the level of control by readers, which can fluctuate at any point in time.

Fountas and Pinnell recommend five instructional contexts for reading that will give students five kinds of reading opportunities using different levels of support. Interactive Read-Aloud (high teacher support)

In interactive read-aloud, you start by selecting a high-quality, short picture book (or occasionally a longer chapter book) so the students are listening to the story or nonfiction book as you read it to them, not decoding words and attending to punctuation. While the students listen, they are engaging systems of strategic actions for comprehending texts.  Interactive read-aloud is usually a  whole-class “interactive” activity intended to spark discussion. So, as you read, you can stop at specific points in the text and encourage your students to turn and talk to a partner or respond to the whole group. “Interactive read-aloud is a way to engage daily in comprehending and articulating their thinking about age-appropriate material (the level is generally beyond the instructional reading level of most of the students),” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Shared Reading (high to medium teacher support)

In shared reading, you start by selecting an enlarged text because, unlike read-aloud, you want the print and other text features to be visually available to your students. You can choose a wide variety of genres and formats and offer high teacher support as you did in interactive read-aloud. First, you read the text aloud to the students while engaging them in a discussion about it. Then, invite them to read along with you. After the book has been read in unison several times, the students can read it on their own or with a partner. “As readers become more proficient, shared reading continues to offer opportunities for more advanced reading work that students can do independently,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Guided Reading (medium to low teacher support)

In guided reading, you do not read aloud to the students. This allows them to have more control of the reading process, as opposed to interactive read-aloud and shared reading where they had high teacher support. You choose a high-quality text that is new to them, and in a small-group setting you provide a carefully planned introduction, and they read it individually. After they read, you can guide them in a discussion about the meaning of the text using teaching points based on your observations. Finally, if appropriate, you can engage in work with words and letters.

Independent Reading (low teacher support)

Independent reading is all about choice. Your primary role in independent reading is to provide students with a rich, well-organized collection of books from which to choose. The texts should be in a variety of genres and levels of difficulty so all students will be able to find something they want to read. “Independent reading is placed within a strong instructional frame, through minilessons to help students apply understandings to their own reading and learn how to choose books they can enjoy, reading conferences to support thinking, and group share for further learning and assessment,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).  

Book Clubs/Literature Discussion (high to low teacher support)

In book clubs (literature discussion), students choose their own text, but have a limited selection from which to choose. Students then join a book club group to talk together about the text they chose. Their choices may not match their competencies, so teachers will have to either read the texts to them, or provide them with an audio recording. “The teacher gathers the students for a discussion, at first providing a higher level of support, but gradually with lessening support as students take over the discussion,” (Fountas and Pinnell).

Keep an eye out for release dates and more information on Fountas & Pinnell Classroom here to learn when you can start to build COHERENCE in your classroom.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team

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References:

Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades.© 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.