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June 18. 2018

Teacher Tip: Selecting Books for Interactive Read-Aloud

Interactive read-aloud is an important instructional context that allows readers to experience rich, interesting texts that are age-and grade-appropriate, regardless of their independent or instructional reading level. In order to get the most instructional power from interactive read-aloud, it is important to plan for teaching in a precise way. Here are some guidelines to help you select books for interactive read-aloud.

  • Look for texts that you know your students will love (funny, exciting, connected to their experiences, able to extend their thinking.) 
  • Select texts appropriate to the age and interests of your students. 
  • Select texts that are of high quality (award winners, excellent authors, high-quality illustrations). 
  • Plan selections so that you present a variety of cultures; help students see things from different perspectives. 
  • Choose texts that help students understand how people have responded to life's challenges. 
  • Consider books on the significant issues in the age group--peer pressure, friendship, families, honesty, racism, competition. 
  • Especially for younger readers, select texts that help them enjoy language--rhythm, rhyme, repetition. 
  • Select different versions of the same story to help students make comparisons. Evaluate the texts to be sure the ideas and concepts can be understood by your students. 
  • Plan selections that appeal to both boys and girls. 
  • Mix and connect fiction and nonfiction. 
  • Repeat some texts that have been loved by former students. 
  • Vary genres so that students listen to many different kinds of texts--articles, poems, fiction, informational texts. 
  • Select informational texts, even if they are long; you can read some interesting parts aloud and leave the books for students to peruse on their own. 
  • Choose texts that will expand your students' knowledge of others' lives and empathy. 
  • Choose texts that will help students reflect on their own lives. 
  • Select texts that you love and tell students about them. 
  • Select texts that build on one another in various ways (sequels, themes, authors, illustrators, topics, settings, structure). 
  • Link selections in ways that will help students learn something about how texts work. 
  • Select books that provide good foundations for minilessons in reading and writing. 
  • Consider the curriculum demands of your district; for example, link texts with social studies, science, or the core literature program.
  • Select several texts that help listeners learn from an author's style or craft.
  • Select texts that offer artistic appreciation. 
  • Select fiction and nonfiction texts on the same general topics. 
  • Consider "text sets" that are connected in various ways--theme, structure, time period, issues, series, author illustrator, and genre. 
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.
April 23. 2018

Teacher Tip: 5 Effective Practices for Teaching with Text Sets

A text set is a collection of two or more books that can be connected because they have common features. They connect books in a way that helps students build specific understandings from book to book. Here are five effective practices for teaching with text sets:

  • Texts are versatile. A single text can be part of many different sets. A text set need not be a static collection. 
  • After students experience a text set, encourage them to suggest other titles that are connected. 
  • Keep lists of potential text sets rather than assembling them physically to allow more flexibility in how you use individual books. If you have a list, and a system for storing books for quick retrieval, text sets can easily be assembled when needed. 
  • Keep an eye out for new titles to add to your text sets. 
  • Pull from text sets clear examples of particular characteristics for reading and writing minilessons.

From The Literacy Quick Guide: A Reference Tool for Responsive Literacy Teaching by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

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 13. 2018

Teacher Tip: Expanding Students' Vocabulary in Specific Instructional Contexts

How to expand students' vocabulary in specific instructional contexts:

  1. Interactive read-aloud and literature discussion. Here you have the opportunity to use intentional conversation to bring students' attention to words and invite them to discuss words. The texts that you use for interactive read-aloud can extend vocabulary minilessons in which you have taught word-solving strategies. You can demonstrate how to derive meaning from context or look at word parts.
  2. Small-group reading instruction. Here students have the opportunity to read for themselves with your support. In each instructional segment––introduction, reading, discussion, teaching points, and writing about reading––words can be examined, taken apart to identify meaningful parts, and discussed. Students are presented with examples in context and have the opportunity to apply word-solving strategies independently.
  3. Extending meaning through writing. Here students have a chance to examine words more closely. You can extend understanding of the meaning of texts––and the words in them––by supporting students as they write about their reading. They can summarize their understanding using organizational tools like graphic organizers to analyze the text, respond to specific language and the meaning they take from it, or write from the point of view of a character. As they write, they are considering and using the vocabulary from the text. In addition, they can focus on vocabulary directly using word webs, grids, or charts.

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.

February 23. 2018

RECAP: Text. Talk. Teach. Twitter Chat with Fountas and Pinnell

On Thursday, February 22, Fountas and Pinnell hosted a Twitter Chat on the importance of fostering talk in the classroom. Below is a recap of that chat. Talking is thinking. Learn about the different ways in which you can offer your students valuable opportunities to express their thinking through TALK.