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

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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.


November 15. 2016

Unlock a Text Through Effective Book Introductions, A Tip from Fountas and Pinnell

Text introductions are critical. You need to provide just enough information to ensure that students will be able to problem-solve or process increasingly challenging texts successfully. Your job is to unlock the text, make it more accessible, and then allow readers to use their "in-the-head" systems of strategic actions to think about and problem-solve their way through the text.

The introduction should be conversational. The way you shape the conversation can help you attend to anything your students need to know how to do in relation to the text. You want to provide scaffolds that will enable readers to access the full meaning, the language, and the print.

Try this: As you plan your brief introductions, think about the reading process, the demands of the text, and the readers' strengths and needs.

Refer to Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency for suggested teaching moves to support comprehending and fluency in text introductions.

November 11. 2016

Daily Lit Bit - 11/11/2016

A noticing teacher is someone who is a very sharp observer of the nuances of what the reader's behavior is telling you, and the writer as well. A noticing teacher is constantly gathering data in great detail on the students he or she teaches.