search navigation
September 17. 2018

Teacher Tip: Consider a Text with Your English Learners in Mind

As you examine a text for instruction, notice text factors that might be difficult for the English learners in your class. What are students' levels of background knowledge related to the topic? Think about vocabulary such as idioms, colloquialisms, contractions, and words with more than one meaning. Notice language structures, illustration support, and graphics. Consider cultural challenges.

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.

September 3. 2018

Teacher Tip: Storage Suggestions for Student Work

As the school year begins, you will need places for students to store work in progress as well as finished work that will be used to assess their progress. Some suggestions are: 

  • Writing folders for each child with resources fastened in the center brackets and work in progress in pockets. Store folders in a labeled tub or file in the writing center. Children should be able to easily find their names, clearly printed at the top. We suggest using four different colors for folders as children can find theirs easily, or four different children can distribute them at writing time. 
  • A plastic crate with hanging files for finished writing work and/or portfolios (or scan and keep electronically). 
  • A rack for storing personal poetry books so that the decorated covers can be displayed. (Students thoughtfully decorate the covers after they have collected and illustrated a few poems.) 
  • Students may have sketchbooks, handwriting books, or other small items. You can use covered cereal boxes, cut in half, as files, and they can be placed in the middle of tables. 
  • A personal box of books to read for each child. You can also use cereal boxes for these. Ask parents to send them in! 
  • A basket for reader’s notebooks. You might place four different color stickers on the upper-right corner and have students place them in four baskets. They can access them more quickly and you can review a pile with a particular color each day.
From Guiding Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

August 29. 2018

Daily Lit Bit - 8/29/18

Book clubs provide an authentic opportunity for children to apply many of the literacy behaviors and understandings that they have learned through other instructional contexts: thinking within, beyond, and about a text; listening and understanding; interacting socially; engaging in extended discussions; and more.

August 27. 2018

Teacher Tip: How to Organize Your Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™

If you're starting to unpack Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™, here are some practical tips on organizing your classroom for each instructional context.

Interactive Read-Aloud: Interactive read-aloud takes place in the whole-class meeting area of your classroom. It is ideal to have a bright rug or natural barriers, such as bookshelves, to mark the area. Children sit on the floor, so arrange your chair and an easel to give all children an unobstructed view. As you finish with a book, you can move it to a bin in the classroom library or display it on the easel or bookshelves, offering children the opportunity to choose to read it independently. Keep interactive read-aloud lessons, books, and supplies in your resource area for easy access.

Shared Reading: As you arrange your classroom for shared reading, be sure to accommodate children so that every child can see the big book or chart. Store texts and tools nearby for easy access. 

Texts: 

  • large print books 
  • projected texts 
  • shared/interactive writing texts 
  • small copies of large texts 

 Tools: 

  • easel plain pointer 
  • Wikki Stix® 
  • word cards 
  • highlighter tape 
  • magnetic letters 
  • whiteboard pocket chart 
  • word masks of various sizes markers 
  • correction tape and sticky notes computer and screen, or document camera, to project an image

Reading Minilessons: Many of your lessons on management, skills, strategies, and literary analysis will flow from observations you make during interactive read-aloud and conferring with children during independent reading. When organizing your classroom for reading minilessons, designate wall space near the meeting area to display anchor charts with principles that children are currently learning and applying.

Guided Reading: Your guided reading area is best located in an area of the classroom that accommodates a table large enough to seat 4-6 children and yourself. A kidney-shaped table is ideal. Arrange the table so you sit facing the children and classroom, allowing you to monitor the children working in independent work areas. Ideally the lessons and books are arranged by level on shelves behind your small-group table, allowing you to easily retrieve and return instructional materials.

Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study: When you present phonics and word study lessons, you will need a pocket chart; picture, letter, and word cards; and chart paper. Store your lesson folders, Sing a Song of Poetry, and Ready Resources in your resource area to streamline planning and the gathering of materials. For more tips on organizing PWS, refer to this Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System Unpacking Document.

Independent Reading: Choose a place in your classroom to create a classroom library. Shelves that accommodate book bins are ideal, with bins organized by genre topic, author, and interest for easy access and browsing by children. Organize the conferring cards in your resource area, so that you can quickly pull the appropriate cards to support your conferences with readers.

Book Clubs: Book clubs can take place anywhere in your classroom where there is room for small groups of children to sit, either in a circle of chairs or in a circle on the floor, and discuss books together. Designate a shelf in your resource area where you can store the books and discussion cards together for easy access.

From the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

August 27. 2018

Daily Lit Bit - 8/27/18

Your classroom’s physical space and the placement, accessibility, and use of materials show what you value as a teacher. Design a classroom that reflects your values and also makes children feel it is their place of learning.

August 23. 2018

Newest Additions to Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™!

Last year came the first wave of Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™--the system designed to reshape literacy instruction as we know it. But that was just the beginning!

New and exciting resources will continue to roll out over the next few years; Book Clubs and Reading Minilessons are two of the latest instructional contexts to be released. Here’s what you’ll expect in these two important resources. 

Reading Minilessons

With this second wave of Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC) comes the long-awaited release of The Reading Minilessons Book for grades K, 1, 2, and 3. This book is full of brief, highly specific, focused lessons that teaches students—in a whole-class setting—a principle that they can apply in many ways. These lessons are often referred to by Fountas and Pinnell as the glue that holds all of the other instructional contexts together. During the lessons, the students revisit mentor texts that they have read aloud or read during shared reading. The students then move to their individual choice reading where right on the edge of their consciousness as readers is that principle they explored in the minilesson, which they apply to their own reading. They finish by coming back for a brief sharing period where they can share their discoveries. 

Click HERE to learn more about The Reading Minilessons Book.

Book Clubs

Book Clubs and Literature Discussion provide an authentic opportunity to bring students together for in-depth discussion of captivating books that have been selected by Fountas and Pinnell as exemplary. The FPC Book Club Collection comes with 32 trade titles per grades K–3 and 48 titles per grades 4–6. Six copies of each title come in the collection along with a Discussion Card for the teacher to help support the discussion. The role of the teacher in these discussions should be limited. It is a time for students to exchange ideas with their peers and co-construct richer understandings of a text. As they bring together much of their learning during Book Clubs, students find a sense of agency.

Click HERE to learn more about the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Book Clubs Collection.

Use these contexts to turn your classroom into a Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ where your students learn how to be confident, self-determined, curious, kind, and literate members of a community.  

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team
August 23. 2018

FAQ Friday: How High Do You Test Students in the Benchmark Assessment?

Q: How high do you test students in the Benchmark Assessment?

A: You should assess students to find the 3 levels of difficulty in order to confirm the highest level for instruction: independent, instructional, and hard reading levels. The instructional-level text is one that is more complex than the student can read independently but one that can be read proficiently with the support of teaching. The instructional-level text challenges readers to expand their systems of strategic actions. In the instructional text, students encounter new words to solve, as well as more complex language. Comprehension is challenged and stretched. Finding an appropriate instructional level allows you to teach the student “at the edge” of his current understanding and then to reach and go beyond it. The assessment results also provide information about the text level that will be too demanding of the reader, where the process is likely to break down. The “hard” level is one that will not allow the reader to perform proficiently even with supportive teaching. 

There may be some situations when the numbers don’t line up perfectly. If you start at a good place you should only need to read 3 texts with each child. Sometimes the hard text is not even completed. Note the directions to stop when the number of errors reaches the E number found on the text.

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