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March 23. 2018

Writing Opportunities Within Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™

Students learn to write by writing. While the names Fountas and Pinnell have become synonymous with reading instruction, they believe that both reading and writing are what make up a comprehensive literacy design. Opportunities for students to write within and outside of the context of reading are woven throughout their new system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC). Read on to learn how.

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom is made up of seven instructional contexts: interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, book clubs, independent reading, phonics, spelling, and word study, and reading minilessons. Below is a breakdown of how writing is incorporated into each of those contexts.

Interactive Read-Aloud

Within each FPC Interactive Read-Aloud lesson there is a section called Respond to the Text. Here, you can give students an opportunity to share their thinking about the text you have just read through shared writing, interactive writing, or independent writing. Reading Minilessons There are four types of minilessons within The Reading Minilessons Book—Management, Literary Analysis, Strategies and Skills, and Writing About Reading. The Writing About Reading minilessons are concise, explicit lessons with a powerful application in building students’ independent reading competencies. The Writing About Reading minilessons introduce the reader’s notebook and help students use this important tool for reflecting on their reading and documenting their reading life for the year. Also, within the other types of reading minilessons, there are optional suggestions for extending the learning of the minilesson over time or in other contexts in an optional section called, Extend the Lesson. Finally, the last page of many of the umbrellas there is a section called Link to Writing where students are offered suggestions for writing/drawing about reading in a reader’s notebook.

Shared Reading

Each lesson in the FPC Shared Reading Collection has a section called Respond to the Text. This is where you can expand students’ thinking about the reading with suggestions that include art activities, drama, research, and shared or interactive writing.

Independent Reading

After conferring with a student about the book he is reading and learning his thoughts on the text, you may want to encourage him to expand his thinking about the book through writing or drawing. The Conferring Cards that accompany each title within the FPC Independent Reading Collection has Writing About Reading Prompts. You can choose or modify these prompts that would best support and extend the student’s understanding of the text.

Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study

Fountas and Pinnell believe that explicit phonics instruction should be both out of text (outside of reading instruction) and in text (embedded within reading instruction). Both can be systematic; both can be explicit; both are essential. The lessons within the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System provide explicit phonics instruction out of text, but each lesson provides suggestions for extending the learning through explicit instruction in text. For example, they include specific suggestions to use in interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, modeled writing, shared writing, interactive writing, and independent reading and writing.

Guided Reading

Each lesson in the FPC Guided Reading Collection has an optional Writing About Reading section. This section offers suggestions for students to reflect and expand their thinking on the book they are reading, through shared, interactive, and independent writing activities. Choose topics that evoke the most interest and conversation.

Book Clubs

Occasionally teachers may want to encourage students to expand their thinking about a book they have just read through writing in their reader’s notebooks. Each Discussion Card in the FPC Book Club Collection provides suggested topics that the teacher can give students to reflect and expand on through writing, after the discussion.

By connecting learning across these instructional contexts, you ensure that students make connections to the texts that they're reading and writing about and find authentic application for their learning. When students spend their time thinking, reading, writing, and talking every day, they get a message about what is valued in your classroom and they begin to develop their own values. The act/process of reading and the reader's response through talk and writing are powerful tools for high-impact teaching.

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March 6. 2018

Teacher Tip: How to Introduce Independent Work Areas

When introducing independent work areas:

  1. Talk about and demonstrate the routine yourself.
  2. Have children practice the routine.
  3. Observe children in the center until you are comfortable that they are consistently using the area independently and are being respectful of others and of the materials.
  4. Help children learn how to clean up and organize the materials at the center before transitioning or moving on to the next center.
  5. Teach children how to transition from one area to another.

From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

February 6. 2018

How to Transition Younger Children to Independence

In grade two or even grade three, you may have students who are just beginning to sustain attention to texts and have little experience managing themselves independently. You may want to structure the independent work period so that it includes three independent tasks:

  • Reading books of their choice.
  • Writing in a reader’s notebook.
  • Completing one carefully designed word study/phonics activity with a partner.

The word-study activity can be an outcome of the phonics/word-study minilesson that you teach at another part of the day. These activities can be individual or involve partners or a group of four using quiet voices. Students can learn to complete three tasks during the alloted time.

When students are called to the guided reading group during independent work time, they set aside their materials and go to the group. Then, they return to whatever they were doing. This kind of transition may not be needed very long as students begin to build stamina for reading for increasing amounts of time.

From Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

January 26. 2018

TWITTER CHAT RECAP: Choice and Why It Matters

On Thursday, January 26th, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted a Twitter Chat on Choice and Why It Matters. People from all over the country to join the conversation on the importance of student choice in the classroom. Some favorite tweets included:

Independent reading is really the goal of all reading instruction. What children can do for themselves is what matters most, and they become more proficient in reading on their own by engaging and thinking and talking about books with others. More...
January 18. 2018

How to Foster a Love of Reading Through Choice


We want our students to love reading books. We want them to go over to a book shelf, choose a book that interests them, and hurry to dive in. The ability to choose a book that interests them, as opposed to one that is assigned to them, is vital to growing that passion. Here are some ways you can foster that love through student CHOICE. More...