December 13. 2016

Help Students Make Good Reading Choices: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell on Independent Reading

Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading. 

Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
Give the book a good chance.

Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading

December 12. 2016

Are students meant to keep the LLI take-home books?


There has been much buzz on social media and the discussion board lately on whether or not the black-and-white take-home books in the Leveled Literacy Intervention systems for grades K-2 are meant for the students to keep. The short answer to that is: yes! It's understandable that some educators may feel uncomfortable letting the students keep the books because finding the money to replace them isn't easy. But it's important to understand why it's a crucial part of a struggling reader's path to meeting expectations and--more importantly--loving to read!   

Why is it important for students to keep the books?

There are three main reasons for the students to be able to keep the books:

  • Practice! Just like with cooking or playing an instrument: you get better with practice. It is as important for students who are struggling with reading to practice at home as it is in the classroom. The LLI books that the students are working with during lessons are ones that are on their current reading level, which they might not have at home. This way, you can guarantee they have access to high-quality books that they can read independently with confidence when they're away from the classroom.
  • Reading with family. Students in LLI are proud to be able to bring home a book that they can read well to share with family members. This way, family members can see what they're reading and be able to engage them in a conversation about it, and read it with them. Some students also like to show off their reading skills to younger siblings! It builds confidence that needs to extend beyond the classroom.
  • Building an at-home library. If they’re able to keep the books, students can both practice independently or with family members every night, and also be able to revisit a favorite book whenever they want. They need more than one night with the book at home in order to practice as much as they need, or be able to share sufficiently with family members. There's even a place on on the back of the books for the students to write their names, which makes it their own. And who doesn't love the books they've collected?!

Our school can't afford to keep replacing the books.

Some LLI users send the books home with the students, but then require that they bring them back. They're reluctant to let students keep the books because the thought of finding the money to replace them can seem daunting or impossible. But there are options out there! We encourage you to meet with your administrators and be creative about finding funds to replace these books. Some funding requires that a percentage of the money given to schools be spent on family resources, which would include the take-home books. Or there may be a local organization that might have an available grant, or who might be looking to donate money to schools. You could even have an annual bake sale to raise money for replenishing the books! Volume reading is so important for our students who are struggling, so try to really do the research and explore all the options.

Currently, Heinemann is running a promotion for these take-home books. You can find the link here, and apply the promo code, LITTLE, to get discounts on the books. Heinemann also offers grant assistance to help educators who are looking to purchase Heinemann Curricular or Intervention Resources but do not have the funding available to do so.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team


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 

For a well-organized, searchable archive of FAQs and discussions that are monitored by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, go to our Discussion Board at www.fountasandpinnell.com/forum 

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

December 8. 2016

Ask Meli!

For those who don't know her, Meli is Irene Fountas's dog who has been featured in a series of leveled books from the Leveled Literacy Intervention System. Over the years, she has become a beloved icon for students and teachers working with LLI. Many classrooms have even sent in fan mail! This is the first in a series of blogs where Meli is taking time out from her busy schedule of chasing squirrels, barking at birds, and napping to answer some of your questions. But first, here's a recent Q & A to help you get to know her a little better.

Q: How do you pronounce your name, Meli?

: It is pronounced Mell-ee, like the word "belly" or "smelly!"

Q: Are you a male or a female dog?

: I am a female dog.

Q: What kind of dog are you?

: I am a West Highland White Terrier, also known as a "Westie" for short. My ancestors originally came all the way from Scotland!

Q: How old are you?

: I just turned 11 years old.

Q:  Who do you live with and where?

: I live with my owner, Irene Fountas. We live in Massachusetts where it's starting to get cold and soon the snow will come. I love to run around in the snow! 

Q: What is your favorite treat?

: There isn't much I don't like to eat, but my favorite treat is cantaloupe! 

Q: Are you also the dog in the Sam and Jessie books from LLI?

: Yes, that's me! It's a cartoon version of me.

Meli has received many letters from her fans, so she will take time each month to answer her letters here on www.fountasandpinnell.com. If you have any questions for Meil you can send letters to Meli c/o The Fountas & Pinnell Team, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801. You can also post questions on the Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell Facebook page, or submit questions via Twitter @FountasPinnell with the hashtag #FPAskMeli.