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April 26. 2018

FAQ Friday: Do the Shared Reading Books in FPC Have Levels?

Q: Do the Shared Reading books in Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ have levels?

A: No. The Shared Reading books are not leveled. Leveled books are ONLY meant to be used in guided reading instruction and to guide students during independent reading.

In the early years, shared reading provides easy entry into behaving like a reader. It helps students understand how to find and use information from print—directional movement, one-to-one correspondence, words and letters, and the whole act of reading and understanding a story or nonfiction text. As readers become more proficient, shared reading continues to offer opportunities for more advanced reading work than students can do independently. Supported by the group, they can take on more complex texts; and, with your teaching, they can learn a great deal which they can then apply in guided and independent reading.

The guided reading books in FPC were created and leveled according to the text characteristics in the Guided Reading section of The Literacy Continuum. The guided reading section is organized by the F&P Text Level Gradient™, A–Z+. The Shared Reading books were created according to the text characteristics in the Shared Reading section of The Literacy Continuum, which is organized by grade level, not by levels according to the gradient. The characteristics upon which the Shared Reading books were created are different from that of the guided reading characteristics so they cannot be leveled according to the gradient.

The accompanying smaller books should only be used for independent reading, not guided. The children are meant to be encouraged to reread them after the Shared Reading lesson in order to practice. They cannot be used in guided reading because they are not created according to guided reading characteristics, and therefore would not correspond with any level on the F&P Text Level Gradient™.

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

April 26. 2018

Getting Kindergarteners to Level D

In 2012, as the result of ongoing data collection, changes were made to the recommended grade-level goals on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. Instead of kindergarteners completing the grade at an instructional level C the gradient shows them exiting at an instructional level D. Since this change, many kindergarten teachers struggle with how to meet this goal. But it’s important to know that it is possible! Below are some suggestions on how to accomplish this goal in practical ways that also instills an absolute joy of reading and writing.

A Literacy-Rich Day

Literacy should be woven through everything you do from the minute your children walk in the door. For example, as soon as children arrive for the day, they fall into a routine of finding and flipping over a name card in a pocket chart to indicate attendance. Then they sign their names in response to a question on a class-size piece of paper before going to an opening circle. The question and talk around the responses can then begin the opening circle. So just in walking in the door and getting to circle, children have been exposed to letters, sounds, opinions, writing of their names (letter formation), and talk supporting an opinion. 

Interactive Read-Aloud

Through interactive read-aloud, we teach children to think and share using books that not only instill joy but provoke conversation. We model for children how to use pictures to make predictions and connections, as well as infer how characters are feeling or what is motivating their actions. We also model language, language structures, and how to talk about books, scaffolding children who have limited language.

Shared Reading

In shared reading, we begin to show children how print works using books with enlarged text that have wonderful illustrations and language that pull the children in. These books are designed for children to be able to read them with support after having heard them read at least once. We bring attention to letters and sounds; concepts of print, such as left to right; phonological awareness with a focus on hearing rhymes, syllables, and words; and, later, focusing on individual sounds with attention to building a bank of high-frequency words and comprehension.

Shared and Interactive Writing

Shared and interactive writing should also be an important part of the daily routine. In shared writing, children see what it looks like to be a writer as they contribute to the thinking that goes on the page. This might be a shared experience or response to something read or a story the children are composing together. It can be as simple as a list of some kind or labeling of an illustration. You are writing out loud, saying what you are doing as you are doing it, and giving your children opportunities to choose words, practice language structures, and see and hear how letters are formed. 

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop will give children an opportunity to practice what you are doing in shared and interactive writing. And though it may begin with only drawing, it will build as they have daily lessons in writing through your shared and interactive writing.


Your observations from all of this work will lead to differentiation in small-group work leading toward guided reading. In small group, you can differentiate with fun tasks and lessons in letter/sound correspondence, phonological awareness, letter formation, and, later, high-frequency words. You can even do small group shared reading for those who need more practice in a book previously used. 

Rely on the Resources 

We have to depend on the resources we have available in order to reach the goal of getting children to level D. The most important resource we can use is The Literacy Continuum. Through using this valuable resource on a daily basis we can truly understand the many stepping stones that lead to the goal of level D. Become familiar with the goals of text levels A–D. Read the snapshots carefully at the beginning of each level description. Note the characteristics that change from level to level. 

Other valuable resources include Literacy's Beginnings, which is a wonderful text that describes what a literacy-rich kindergarten classroom looks and sounds like, and the new Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Kindergarten System, which includes materials to support teachers and administrators in providing a literacy-rich kindergarten appropriate to the 21st century.

We still have many young children entering kindergarten with no literacy knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they are struggling or that learning will be hard for them. It often means they haven’t had the opportunity. We have to provide those opportunities with a goal of kindergarten being fun but embedding learning within the fun and making every minute count.

Read HERE about the rationale behind the changes to the F&P Text Level Gradient™.  

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team 

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April 23. 2018

Teacher Tip: 5 Effective Practices for Teaching with Text Sets

A text set is a collection of two or more books that can be connected because they have common features. They connect books in a way that helps students build specific understandings from book to book. Here are five effective practices for teaching with text sets:

  • Texts are versatile. A single text can be part of many different sets. A text set need not be a static collection. 
  • After students experience a text set, encourage them to suggest other titles that are connected. 
  • Keep lists of potential text sets rather than assembling them physically to allow more flexibility in how you use individual books. If you have a list, and a system for storing books for quick retrieval, text sets can easily be assembled when needed. 
  • Keep an eye out for new titles to add to your text sets. 
  • Pull from text sets clear examples of particular characteristics for reading and writing minilessons.

From The Literacy Quick Guide: A Reference Tool for Responsive Literacy Teaching by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

April 20. 2018

TWITTER CHAT RECAP: The Importance of Inquiry in Text-Based Learning

On Thursday, April 19th, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted a Twitter Chat on The Importance of Inquiry in Text-Based Learning. People across the country joined to share their thoughts about the inquiry process.

Some favorite tweet included:

When students are fully engaged and feel a sense of joy in their own learning, they achieve a higher level of literacy.
You can tell students what to notice about books, but learning is much more powerful if they take the stance of an inquirer into literature.
By combining books in text sets, you make it possible for students to look across several texts and construct deeper understandings than they would by encountering one text after another in a random way.

Read the full chat below. More...

April 20. 2018

FAQ Friday: Are There Plans to Add Books to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System?

Q: Are there plans to add books to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System?

A: There are no plans to add books to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. We feel that the two books at each level (one fiction, one nonfiction) are all that is needed. If you use a book for an assessment conference at the beginning of the year, the child will likely be reading at a different level by the next conference interval. If for some reason this is not the case, use the alternate book at that level. Furthermore, if a book is too hard for a child, you should discontinue the reading. You can use this book again if the child read very little of it months before.

If you are finding that a student is not progressing, 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!>>