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April 4. 2017

Six Ways to Guide Student Choice in Literature Study: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Selecting a book is a complex task, but one that is well worth learning. As adults, we select books that offer opportunities to relax and enjoy ourselves. While we don't specifically choose books to increase our reading skills, we may challenge ourselves to get to know a new author or genre. Students, too, might want to learn to read a new author or genre or increase the variety of their reading. Generally, however, they select books just as we do: they choose one that looks interesting. 

Initially, they may not know how to choose well, so you will want to teach them how to think about selecting a book that works best for them. Here are six ways you can show students how to choose books.

  1. Listen to a book talk and match characteristics of the book to their interests.
  2. Examine book covers, cover copy, and illustrations.
  3. Sample a bit of the text to get a feel for the language and the author's style.
  4. Think about the topic, considering their interests and previous knowledge.
  5. Think about how the book matches their own reading background and experience and whether they would need to listen to an audio version or another person read it to them.
  6. Consider whether the book will offer challenges or opportunities to expand their knowledge or skill.

Adapted from Guiding Readers and Writers by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2001 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann. 

March 31. 2017

Ask Meli! March, 2017

Meli is really enjoying all of her mail!! Your letters were wonderfully written and she could tell that you all have been working hard on your reading and writing. You must have some great teachers! She has received many questions from all over the country. Here are a few examples.

Below are questions sent in from Riley, Emoneet, Ealiyah, and Caihey from Blue Jay Bird Elementary School in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin! More...

March 28. 2017

Six Methods of Teaching Read-alouds to PreK Children: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Many children have gone to daycare or been part of play groups, but for some, prekindergarten is their first experience with a group read-aloud. With careful teaching, even young children new to school can follow these simple routines. Again, you will find methods of teaching that fit your class, but here's a general approach that is effective:

  1. Demonstrate the behavior yourself. Describe it in words that are simple. Tell children why it is important.
  2. Have two or three children demonstrate the behavior while the others watch (maybe in a circle). Have everyone clap when they do it well.
  3. Have everyone demonstrate the behavior and clap for themselves.
  4. Insist on the behavior every time with gentle reminders and more demonstration as needed. (If you constantly allow deviations, children will become confused about your expectations.)
  5. Give specific praise to the children when they demonstrate the expected behavior.
  6. Use positive commands whenever possible; tell children what to so rather than what not to do.

Adapted from Literacy Beginnings by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2011 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

March 21. 2017

12 Suggestions for Supporting Fluency through Whole-Class Instruction: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Fluency is a critical aspect of our students' development as readers, and we cannot assume that they will develop it on their own. Many children will require careful teaching in whole-group, small-group, and individual contexts; the lens of fluency can be applied to all three. Here are 12 suggestions for supporting fluent reading through whole-class instruction:

  1. Provide consistent, daily demonstrations of fluent phrased reading.
  2. Draw students' attention to aspects of fluency as you have demonstrated them in each interactive read-aloud.
  3. Focus on the meaning of the text, and reflect the meaning with your voice.
  4. Demonstrate rereading to gain fuller understanding.
  5. Draw attention to language that evokes images or has a poetic quality.
  6. Use shared reading of a common enlarged text.
  7. Teach students to use partner reading.
  8. Use readers' theater to help students find the "voice" in dialogue.
  9. Engage the whole class in choral reading of poems and longer texts.
  10. Have students select some poems to memorize.
  11. Provide many easy books in the classroom library that students can "sail through" for pleasure.
  12. Create a listening center with audio books.

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.