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February 28. 2017

Use Interactive Writing as an Opportunity for Children to Learn About Letters: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Early experiences in interactive writing offer kindergarten children an opportunity to learn about letters. At the same time, even though that have very limited knowledge of literacy, they are participating in the construction of a meaningful text. Working with with letters within a known text is a more powerful learning experience than simply working with a letter in isolation. Children are highly engaged because they see that letters have a purpose. And, when they read and write, they must recognize letters that are embedded in words that are embedded in sentences.

During interactive writing, you can draw children's attention to letters and help them learn how to look at them by using the following teaching directives:

  • Have the children say the name of the letter (m).
  • Talk about the features of the letters (a stick and two humps).
  • Demonstrate the motions necessary to make the letter.
  • Talk about the motions while making them (pull down, over and down, over and down).
  • Have the children trace the letter in the air on the floor, talking aloud about the motions while making them.
  • Show the children how to check the letter against a model (alphabet chart or name chart).
  • Show the children how to make connections between the letter and known words, particularly names.
Adapted from Interactive Writing: How Language & Literacy Come Together, K-2 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2000 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

February 24. 2017

Build COHERENCE in Your Classroom with a Multi-text Approach to Literacy Instruction

Fountas and Pinnell  believe that learning deepens when students think, talk, read, and write about authentic texts across many different instructional contexts. They believe that each instructional context should work as a coherent system that improves student outcomes, and creates literacy opportunities for the whole school. In their new system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom, each context works together in a cohesive manner to support the literacy learning of every student. “All play an essential role; they contribute in different ways to each student’s development as readers, writers, and language users,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). More...

February 21. 2017

Ideas for Ways to Help Children Learn a New Word: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Struggling readers need to build a core of words that they know quickly and automatically--that they can recognize without effort. They also need to develop a system for learning how to learn words. Here are some ideas for ways to help children look at and learn a new word:

1. Use language that makes it clear you are talking about a word: "This word is _____." (Some children confuse letters and words.)

2. Tell children to look at the beginning of the word and show them what that means (first letter on the left).

3. Read the word to children as you run your finger under the word, left to right.

4. Ask children to look closely at the word and say what they notice at the beginning.

5. Ask them to look at the word and then read it as they use a finger to check it, left to right.

6. Remind them of another word that will help them remember a new word: an, and; the, then.

7. Help children notice the first letter and then look at the rest of the letters in the word, left to right, to notice more.

8. Give children magnetic letters in order to build the word left to right.

9. After building the word, have children take it apart and build it several times.

10. After building the word several times, have children write the word.

11. Show children how to check the word they have written letter by letter: a, a, n, n, d, d.

12. Have children, using magnetic letters, break the word apart by pulling down the first letter (s) and then the rest of the letters, e.g., s-ee, th-e.

From When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.