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April 11. 2018

The Importance of Inquiry in Text-Based Learning

Would you teach someone to bake a cake by simply handing over a recipe to read? Or is it better to have them measure the ingredients, pour them into a bowl, watch as the mixture changes into a batter, then end with a delicious dessert? On the surface, it may seem that we learn by taking in information by following directions, but learning is somewhere in between using what we are told and the discoveries we make ourselves. 

Fountas and Pinnell believe that when students gain information through inquiry it makes learning more meaningful and memorable. You can tell students what to notice about books, but learning is much more powerful if they take the stance of an inquirer into literature. They get inside the thinking by constructing the understanding themselves. Here are just a few of the benefits you can gain from taking an inquiry approach to text-based learning.

Inquiry Builds Agency

Fountas and Pinnell believe that taking an inquiry approach to teaching literacy enables students to learn how to learn. They become empowered and develop a sense of agency. The process of inquiry allows students to think more critically about the decisions authors make as they plan and write texts. They believe in themselves and their ability to find out, and the process itself is inherently satisfying to them.

Encourage Curiosity 

Children are curious. It’s important to give them the tools that allow their curiosity to propel authentic learning and discovery. When children choose their own books to read, they pursue lines of inquiry that interest and engage them as learners, building content knowledge of different topics and themes across a range of disciplines. The inquiry approach takes advantage of human beings’ natural curiosity.

Use Inquiry to Know Your Students

In teacher-student inquiry, you learn alongside your students. You are intentional in your teaching, and your goal is to expand your students’ knowledge of text. You are far more of an expert than your students, but when you inquire into texts together, there is always something more to notice and be surprised by. Your students are fully engaged, and most importantly, they learn a process they can apply for the rest of their lives.  

Inquiry empowers learners to construct new meaning, and empowers teachers to teach both reading and writing in ways that make sense for our students and enable them to learn even more about reading and writing without us.

To explore the many Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ resources in which an inquiry approach to literacy learning is used, go to www.fountasandpinnell.com 

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/ 
April 5. 2018

Ignite a Love of Words with the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System

Learning how words work doesn’t have to be a boring, mundane drill. There are ways to get your students excited and engaged in active thinking about language and how it works. Fountas and Pinnell have developed a lesson structure for phonics, spelling, and word study that uses a balance of direct teaching and discovery, which will encourage students to become active examiners and analyzers of print. 

Below is the structure that Fountas and Pinnell use in their Phonics, Spelling, and Words Study System (PWS), which provide well-planned, organized, direct teaching of language principles, but also contain an element of inquiry.

The Simple Framework

Each lesson in the PWS system follows a simple structure: teach, apply, and share. Ideally, these lessons would be embedded in a design for responsive literacy teaching that offers a combination of experiences, each of which contributes uniquely to students’ literacy development. Here’s what a lesson looks like:

TEACH whole-class lessons based on a principle related to phonics. Each principle is listed and explained in The Comprehensive Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study Guide, and each incorporates an element of inquiry. The inclusion of inquiry, where possible, rivets students’ attention to discovering something about language; it makes the lesson enjoyable, even exciting! Students become pattern seekers and word discoverers, which, hopefully, will be a lifelong habit.

APPLY through hands-on practice to apply the principle. Students can learn much more through these hands-on activities because they provide an experience in constructing their own knowledge. You can choose to have all the children do the Apply activity simultaneously, individually, or with a partner after the lesson, or they could rotate to a word-study center to engage in the activity during independent work time as they develop the ability to manage their own learning. 

SHARE, as students meet briefly in a whole-class meeting, to talk about the discoveries they made. This brief sharing time gives you a chance to assess the effectiveness of your lesson, return to the principle and summarize the learning, and link to reading and writing so students know how to use what they have learned.

A general goal in presenting any lesson is to pique students’ curiosity about words. We want them to seek patterns, notice similarities, take words apart and reassemble them, think about various chunks of words and what they mean, and more. When students perceive word study as word play, an important instructional goal has been achieved.

Fountas and Pinnell believe that Phonics instruction is most effective when used within a wide range of engaging literacy experiences accompanied by rigorous teaching. Download the PWS mini-sampler to learn more about the unique lesson structure for PWS, and how this system fits into a comprehensive design for classroom literacy instruction. 

~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/ 


March 29. 2018

Ask Meli! March, 2018

Meli hopes that you are all having a great school year! She reads lots of letters every day and is so happy that you take the time to write to her.

Read on to see Meli's answers to questions from her friends in Paramus, NJ!

Q: Dear Meli, Do you get along with your chickens? What is your favorite dog? What is your favorite fish? What is your favorite sport? What is your favorite park? What is your favorite color apple? - Antonio

 Hi Antonio! Thank you for all of your questions! Since red is my favorite color, I would have to pick red apples! My favorite dog is a West Highland Terrier, since that's what I am!

Q: Dear Meli, Hi my name is Daniela. What is your favorite color? My favorite color is pink. Are you naughty sometimes? I am not naughty ever. Do you know what shh means? Do you have a brother or sister? I have a brother named Antonio, he is my twin. I hope you send me back. I love you Meli. Love Daniela

 Hi Daniela! I love your letter! My favorite color is red, like my ball! Sometimes when I play outside I chase birds and rabbits, even though I'm not supposed to. Keep reading! Woof! Meli

Q: Dear Meil. Hi my name is Lauren. I'm wondering where Meli sleeps? What do you eat? What's your favorite color? Do you have sisters or brothers?

 Hi Laruen! Thank you so much for your letter! My favorite food is cantaloupe, but I also love baby carrots, peaunut butter and dog cookies. I like to take naps in my dog bed and my favorite color is red. Keep reading! Woof! Meli

Q: Dear Meli. Hi! My name is Anika. We just finished reading the Problem with Meli. Do you fight with your parents? What is your favorite color? My favortie color is silver. Is Meli a teenager? What kind of dogs do you like? I like puppies. Puppies are cute. Do you like fruits and vegetables? I like Meli. Meli is so cute. 

 Hi Anika! I loved reading your letter! My favorite color is red, like my ball! I am 11 years old, so I'm not a teenager yet! I like fruits and vegetables. Cantaloupe and baby carrots are my favorite! Keep reading! Woof! Meli

Meli wants to know your favorite book character! You can let her know in your letters along with any more questions. And don’t miss the NEW Meli books in the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Guided Reading Collection!

Please be sure to send your letters to Meli c/o The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801. And Tweet your questions to @FountasPinnell with #FPAskMeli.

See you soon!

~Meli and 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/ 

March 29. 2018

Lift Your Professional Learning with Multi-Day Institutes

Materials themselves help teachers grow professionally, but alongside that teachers need good professional learning opportunities. Professional learning makes the work come alive. Each year, educators from around the world join Irene C. Fountas, Gay Su Pinnell, and their consultants, in multi-day professional learning institutes, and leave with new energy and understanding that will inform their teaching all year. 

Below are some of the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™-focused multi-day institutes that Heinemann offers along with information about what can be gained from these fulfilling professional learning opportunities. Not only are you expanding your learning, but you will also enjoy a night on the town in some of the best places to visit in the country with either colleagues who have joined you or new friends you've made during the day!

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™, Grades PreK–3, “Create a Coherent Vision for Literacy Learning: Getting Started with Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™,” presented by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

May 21 – 24, Dallas, TX *Early-bird rate ends soon, so register now!

In this interactive four-day institute, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell will present their vision to lift students' literacy learning through authentic experiences in reading, thinking, talking, and writing using Fountas & Pinnell Classroom, a first-of-its-kind, cohesive system for high-quality classroom-based literacy instruction.

Throughout this intensive institute, Fountas and Pinnell will show how each whole-group, small-group, and individual instructional context within Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ work together to develop coherence in the literacy learning of every student across the grades.

Built into each day will be an opportunity for administrators to have a breakout session with the authors to focus on administrator and leadership needs in implementing an ambitious vision for improving student outcomes. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Grades K–2, “Teaching Readers Who Struggle and Teaching Within LLI Lessons,” developed by Fountas and Pinnell, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants

April 23–24, Burlingame, CA

June 25–26, Schaumburg, IL

November 5–6, Philadelphia, PA 

In this two-day institute, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, participants will focus on understanding the reading and writing challenges of students who struggle with literacy learning and how to provide effective teaching to help those students using the LLI, K–2 lessons. Participants will be provided with a deep understanding of these systems and how they can best be implemented in the classroom. You’ll review excerpts of sample lessons and instructional routines used within the lessons, learn how to monitor students using technology, and gain insight into systematically observing reading and writing behaviors that inform teaching decisions. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Grades 3–12, “Intervening for Literacy Success with Intermediate, Middle, and Secondary Students,” developed by Fountas and Pinnell, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants

April 25–26, Burlingame, CA

June 27–28, Schaumburg, IL

November 7–8, Philadelphia, PA 

In this interactive two-day institute, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, participants will be provided with a deep understanding of the LLI, 3–12 system and how these lessons specifically meet the needs of struggling readers in those grades, and how to provide effective teaching within those lessons. Participants will learn how to code and analyze reading behaviors; gain scheduling and student grouping guidance; as well as how to use teacher language to support students’ sustained attention and comprehension of texts. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Fountas and Pinnell favor embracing the open door and becoming part of a learning community of colleagues—all of whom share common goals, take risks, and find the rewards of continuous professional growth. This takes time and problem solving but if achieved, it will have big payoff for students.

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/


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.

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/
March 15. 2018

Struggling Readers Need Intervention. They Need LLI.

It is midway through the year, and by now you might be observing that some of your students are falling behind their peers in reading. Even with many high-quality literacy opportunities, some students struggle with literacy learning and need intervention to get them back on track. The goal of Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is to give students the boost they need to read at the same level as their peers and fully benefit from classroom instruction.

What is LLI?

LLI is a rigorous, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention system for students who are not achieving grade-level expectations in reading and writing, and are not receiving another form of literacy intervention. The LLI systems are designed to bring students from the earliest level A (kindergarten level) to level Z, which represents the competencies needed at a middle and high school level.

How does LLI work?

LLI is based on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. Each level of text makes increasing demands on the reader, but the demands and resulting changes are gradual. By actively participating in intensive lessons on each level using original, authentic, high-quality books, readers have the opportunity to expand their reading and writing abilities. With the support of instruction, they stretch themselves to read more complex texts with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. The goals of each lesson are taken from The Literacy Continuum—a must-have tool when using LLI because not only are the goals derived from there, but you can refer to it to determine where to take your students next. With these goals in mind, students effectively engage in the reading and writing process every day.

Does LLI work?

Recently the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has reviewed the research on LLI, finding positive impacts on general reading achievement for students in grades K–2. These findings are based on two independent, empirical studies conducted by The University of Memphis's Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP).

How long does LLI take?

Lessons must be frequent—five days a week is preferred—so that readers can gain and sustain momentum and acceleration is possible. For the greatest impact in short-term intervention, we recommend a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:3, 30 minutes per day for children in grades K–2 and a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:4, 45 minutes per day for students in grades 3–12. For the systems used in grades K–2, we estimate that success will be evident in 14 to 18 weeks, and 18 to 24+ weeks for the systems in grades 3–12.

Who administers LLI?

Providing excellent intervention lessons depends on the expertise of teachers. The teachers of struggling readers and writers should be exceptionally skilled in systematic observation, in the assessment of reading behaviors, and in teaching for the range of strategic actions that proficient readers use. All teachers of struggling readers (classroom and intervention teachers) need opportunities to continually increase their understanding of the reading and writing processes and the behavioral evidence that reveals competencies. The expert intervention teacher is able to make effective decisions that meet the diverse needs of students.

Remember that progress is not enough; struggling readers need to make faster progress than their peers, and that is the whole purpose of intervention. They may be disengaged or bored. They may work diligently at mechanical tasks that they do not connect in a lively way to real reading and writing. To be effective, the intervention lessons must incorporate everything we know about what students need to learn, especially those who are experiencing difficultly.

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/
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 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 

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/

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.
February 22. 2018

Ask Meli! February, 2018

Meli has been so busy reading all of your wonderful letters! She loves hearing from each and every one of you, and can tell that you have been practicing your reading and writing.

This month, Meli answers letters from her friends in Burleson, Texas.

Dear Meli,

Q: Hi my name is Melanie. I am in 2nd grade. I love your books. When is your birthday? Who is your best friend? What is your favorite toy? Love Melanie

: Hi Melanie! Thank you for your letter! My favorite toy is my red ball! I love my rubber chicken too! Woof! -Meli More...