December 6. 2016

Enable students to learn how to learn about genre: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell on an inquiry approach to genre study

In exploring genre study, we advocate teaching and learning in which students are engaged in exploration. By engaging deeply and consistently with a variety of high-quality texts, students build an internal foundation of information on which they can base further learning. They learn how to develop genre understandings and can apply their thinking to any genre.

 

Genre study is a foundational inquiry that involves several steps and gives students the tools they need to navigate a variety of texts with deep understanding.

 

Try these six broad steps in genre study:

 

1. Collect a set of high-quality mentor texts that are clear examples of the genre.

2. Immerse students in several clear examples of the genre in various instructional contexts.

3. Study the common characteristics that are always and often evident of the genre.

4. Define the genre using the list of characteristics to create a short working definition.

5. Teach specific mini lessons on the genre characteristics.

6. Read and Revise the lists and definition as needed and expand students’ genre understanding.

 

When students understand genre, they can engage more deeply with texts. To learn more about genre study through inquiry-based learning, please reference Genre Study: Teaching with Fiction and Nonfiction Books

December 1. 2016

Thank you for putting the "U" in CommUnity! Celebrating 20k Members!


In August of this year we launched the online Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Community, and in three short months we have gained over 23,000 members and counting! Our members have come together from all over the world to share a common vision:to give children a chance to live a literate life that expands their empathy, curiosity, and competencies to become good global citizens.

We wouldn't be one of the fastest growing communities in the field of literacy education without you and we thank you for taking this journey with us to achieve substantial school-wide growth through a community of educators.

On behalf of Irene and Gay and the entire Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Community THANK YOU for your commitment to every child, every day. 

If you'd like to become a member of the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Community you can sign up for free at www.fountasandpinnell.com. The Community also extends to social media with an additional 60k members via Facebook and Twitter combined! If haven't already, you can like the Irene C. Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell Facebook page to receive important updates or event notifications. Or you can join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Learning Group where you can collaborate in real time with your peers. And if you're more of a Twitter person, you can follow @FountasPinnell.

November 29. 2016

Nurture Young Learners’ Curiosity through Inquiry, A tip from Fountas and Pinnell on Early Literacy Learning

All children need the opportunity for play and inquiry. A rich and joyful early literacy environment in which reading, writing, and talking are part of play, often become play. We must remember that children, especially young children, learn through play. Play enhances language and literacy learning. When your teaching is inquiry-oriented, you enable young children to learn how to learn, investigate and discover new understandings, and pose wonderings about the possibilities.

 

With two kinds of inquiry, information seeking and wondering, children are immersed in constructive learning that results in an exciting, meaningful expansion of knowledge that continues through life. Fountas and Pinnell discuss the inquiry process in depth in their book, Literacy Beginnings.

 

Try these four simple steps of the inquiry process to guide your teaching and propel literacy learning:

1. Playful Exploration (Notice, Wonder)

2. Define Questions (Plan for Observing)

3. Find Out (Investigate, Explore)

4. Share Learning (Discuss, Draw Conclusions)

November 25. 2016

A Level is a Teacher's Tool, NOT a Child's Label


It’s hard enough to be a kid. They have lots of things to worry about: parents, friends, sports, grades, etc. Reading can be an escape from those worries, just like it is for adults; it’s a way to relax and plunge yourself into someone else’s world for a little while.  But what happens when a child finds out that they’re not reading on the “same level” as the other children? What does that even mean to them? It’s not good, they know that. Reading has now become another worry to add to the pile of worries.

Trying to climb the “level ladder” is not what reading is about. It should be about enjoyment and discovery. Focusing too much on text levels can cause problems. Fountas and Pinnell created the F&P Text Level Gradient ™ to be used as a teacher’s tool for assessment and instruction. The levels aren’t meant to be shared with the children or parents.

Help Students Build Self-Esteem and Love of Reading

“It is detrimental to a student’s self-esteem and to their love of reading when they are encouraged to measure their own progress by ‘moving up levels,’” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). Students should not use levels to compare themselves with others or to compete. This is counterintuitive to building a classroom community where each student is respected; has a sense of agency; values collaboration over competition; and grows up seeing themselves as literate. 

Make “Choice” Authentic

Telling students to choose by “level” is not an authentic way to select books to read independently. That isn’t how I choose a book as an adult. In fact, I really love reading high fantasy, young adult books with a romantic twist. Can I read War and Peace? Sure, but I devour those YA novels like candy and that’s what we want students to do: get them to a point where they need to read every day; they yearn for it. As much as possible, strive for them to choose books in a way that all readers do—books that interest and engage them.  

Advocate for the Appropriate Use of Levels in Your School

Fountas and Pinnell believe very strongly that students’ reading levels have no place in teacher evaluation or on report cards to be sent home to parents. Too much emphasis on levels can lead to misconceptions on the part of families. Informing parents of the level at which their child is reading can make them uneasy.  They may see the level as a very exact measurement, but students don’t always read at a precise level. Parents also talk with other parents, and if they find that their child is reading at a lower level than other children, they might panic. But they don’t understand the intricacies of how those levels work the way you do. 

Levels can be a resource for you and your colleagues to guide student choices for independent reading, but they should not be a limitation or a requirement. Leveled books are instructional tools for teachers who understand them—nothing more. Above all else, a level is a teacher’s tool, not a child’s label.

Jill Backman, Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager                                                                                                                       

Join the fastest growing community in the field of literacy education. Get your free membership and stay up to date on the latest news and resources from Fountas and Pinnell at www.fountasandpinnell.com

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group for more collaborative conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/

November 22. 2016

Provide a Daily Dose of Interactive Read-Aloud, A tip from Fountas and Pinnell to Engage Readers in Thinking and Talking about Texts

Interactive read-aloud requires highly intentional teaching. As you are choosing books for your read-aloud, above all, be sure that the story, language, and illustrations are highly engaging to children. In using interactive read-aloud as a teaching approach, you and your students will have productive conversations about books if you follow these steps.                                                             

 

Try them in your next read-aloud.

1. Plan opening remarks: engage students’ active thinking

2. Stop to invite quick comments during reading: promote student thinking within, beyond, and about the text.

3. Discuss the text after reading: attend to students overall meaning, implications for learning, and attention to writer’s craft.

4. Plan an engaging, inquiry-based activity following reading (art, writing, drawing, etc.).

 

Interactive read-aloud grows shared literary knowledge. The read-aloud levels the playing field, ensuring that readers in the classroom experience rich, interesting texts that are age and grade appropriate, regardless of their independent and instructional reading levels. All students can think and talk about the text even if they can’t read it for themselves.

 

Excerpted with adaptations from Literacy Beginnings and Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency

November 18. 2016

November Twitter Chat on Guided Reading, Second Edition, Part 1

On Thursday, November 17th, authors Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted part one of a Twitter chat on Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition. People from all over the country logged in to discuss important topics such as, why observation and interpretation of students' literacy behaviors are so critical to high-impact teaching within guided reading. Teachers tweeted about how they use responsive teaching in their own classrooms to elevate their guided reading lessons, while Fountas and Pinnell offered words of advice and encouragement such as, "Instead of expecting students to be where you are, you have to bring the teaching to where they are."

To read the whole chat, click the link below. And mark your calendars to log in on Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 8 p.m. (EST) for part two of the Guided Reading Twitter chat with Fountas and Pinnell.