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March 9. 2018

Why the Comprehension Conversation is Critical to Assessment

Students' talk reveals their thinking, which helps you know them as learners. One-on-one assessment is a great time to talk with students to learn their thinking, because what they're thinking will inform your instruction. Without talking to them and learning where they are, there's no way to know how to bring them forward. It's for this reason that the Comprehension Conversation is vital to assessment.

The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System stands out from other assessment systems because it incorporates a rigorous and important Comprehension Conversation. The purpose of this Comprehension Conversation is to enable teachers to sharpen their observation of students' reading behaviors by hearing their thinking through talk and strengthen the connection from assessment to instruction. Here's how.

Reading is complex

Reading is a highly complex process that requires students to bring together their own knowledge with the print on the page. When students read, they use in-the-head systems of strategic actions to process texts, flexibly integrating many different kinds of information in order to construct meaning. You cannot see strategic actions, but you are able to observe reading behaviors and infer what readers are able to do as they think their way through a text. Students' talk during the BAS Comprehension Conversation reveals their thinking.

How it works

In Part 1 of the BAS assessment, the student reads aloud a precisely leveled fiction or nonfiction book while the teacher observes and notes the reader's behaviors. In Part 2, the teacher conducts a conversation with the reader to determine how well he or she comprehended the text; beyond a simple retelling. This unique approach not only gathers data about what students understand about a text, but it also provides an opportunity for teachers to get to know their students-a valuable use of time, especially at the start of the school year. During the conversation, teachers will prompt the student, but the goal is to have a flow of back-and-forth talk, with the student doing as much of the talking as possible. It is in these conversations that the student's thinking is revealed.

Key understandings

Key understandings that the teacher should look for during the Comprehension Conversation are provided in Part 2 of the assessments. These key understandings are based on the goals and behaviors from The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. The twelve systems of strategic actions are clustered into three categories that encompass how readers construct meaning as they process a text: thinking within, beyond, and about the text. So while you are giving the assessment you can note which of the understandings the students pinpoint and which ones they don't.

What next?

Now that you've identified in which areas the student needs instruction, you can weave that into your teaching. Since the goals and understandings that you've identified come from The Literacy Continuum, it would be ideal to also have instructional material that also aligns with those goals. For those students who may need extra instruction, the Leveled Literacy Intervention System is a good option as the goals in each lesson are taken from The Literacy Continuum. And for your small-group and whole-group instruction, as well as partner and individual work the lessons in Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ are designed around the goals in The Literacy Continuum.

Reading is thinking, and a student's talk about what they've read is evidence of that thinking. Skilled observation of literacy behaviors enables teachers to understand how their students can "think their way" through a text. The Benchmark Assessment System Comprehension Conversation is a key tool for gaining this behavioral evidence of students' thinking.

March 9. 2018

FAQ Friday: Do the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Shared Reading Books Have Levels?

Q: Do the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Shared Reading books have levels?

A: The books in the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Shared Reading Collection do not have levels. Levels are only used in guided reading instruction.

In the early years, shared reading provides easy entry into behaving like a reader. It helps students understand how to find and use information from print—directional movement, one-to-one correspondence, words and letters, and the whole act of reading and understanding a story or nonfiction text. As readers become more proficient, shared reading continues to offer opportunities for more advanced reading work than students can do independently. Supported by the group, they can take on more complex texts; and, with your teaching, they can learn a great deal which they can then apply in guided and independent reading.

March 8. 2018

Daily Lit Bit - 2/8/18

Teachers are concerned not only about what students learn but also about how they learn. A spirit of inquiry and intellectual curiosity permeates the classroom. And the educators in the school offer a model of collaboration and continual learning.

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.

March 2. 2018

FAQ Friday: What Are the Main Differences Between the Intermediate and Primary LLI Systems?

Q: What are the main differences between the intermediate and primary Leveled Literacy Intervention Systems?

A: There are several differences as the Red System is the first in the series of Leveled Literacy Intervention systems designed specifically for intermediate, middle-level, and secondary-level students. See the research foundation paper at www.fountasandpinnell.com/resourcelibrary/. The Red, Gold, Purple and Teal systems are built on a foundation of research related to preadolescent and adolescent literacy that is reflected in the design of the lessons. Each color in the system is designed to provide high-interest books for the grade level. The books in the Red and Gold System are designed to appeal to students in grades 3 and 4. The books in the Purple and Teal System are designed to appeal to middle and high school students. Compared to the Orange, Green, and Blue systems, you will find a higher ratio of nonfiction texts (60%), and many are longer with additional nonfiction text features. The Red, Gold, Purple, and Teal System lessons are designed for daily 45-minute instruction and include a variety of instructional procedures that differ from the other systems. In addition, there is a novel study sequence at the end of every level with a four-lesson optional test preparation sequence in the intermediate and middle/high school systems. We believe you will find that the Red, Gold, Purple, and Teal systems increase the intensity of the instruction to meet the needs of students who may have been struggling with reading for a longer time and at the same time are challenged by higher-level text demands.
March 1. 2018

Nurture Young Learners' Curiosity Through Inquiry

All children need the opportunity for play and inquiry. We must remember that children, especially prekindergarteners, learn through play. Inquiry is the kind of focused play you do when pursuing a topic of interest. A rich and joyful early literacy environment in which reading, writing, and talking are part of play, often become play.

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.

Information Seeking

In this type of inquiry, we engage others or use artifacts and other resources to figure something out or build new understandings. We problem solve, pose real questions, interact with others, and are motivated to find out. We ask questions that can be answered or identify a problem, make a plan and take action, gather resources, analyze and summarize our information, and draw conclusions or report findings. Information seeking usually results in a product, an answer, and a closure.

Wondering

When we wonder, we seek questions and examine alternative factors. The goal is often the pleasure of the process itself-speculating, asking more questions, sharing insights that are only possibilities. Using open-ended questions is important with prekindergarteners. Using thoughtful language as we teach is crucial to helping stimulate children's thinking.

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. They learn about choice, how to work in groups, and most of all, how to direct their energies to activate engagement that stimulates the intellect.

For more information about inquiry, be sure to read Fountas & Pinnell's Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten Handbook.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team 

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