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October 27. 2016

How Do I Use The Literacy Continuum?

*This is the third in a series of blogs about The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. Don’t forget to read last week’s blog on What is The Literacy Continuum? Read on to learn more about how to use it.


Fountas and Pinnell strongly believe that schools should be a community of learners, not an educational factory. The classroom is much more than a place where children learn to read and write. “It’s a laboratory where they learn how to be confident, self-determined, kind, and democratic members of a community,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). In order to create a community, you need a common language. When everyone uses the same language, a collective conversation occurs, and that’s exactly what The Literacy Continuum does: provides a common language.

Here are the many different ways in which The Literacy Continuum can be used and who can use it to work toward building a school into a community of readers and writers:

Principal and Leadership Team

Since the principal and leadership teams are the key to teachers’ support systems as they grow in conceptual understanding of their work, it is vital to have a common language. The Literacy Continuum can be used along with teachers to discuss their common expectations for students’ achievement in each curriculum area, grade by grade. They can use it to review the progress of individual students in the classroom, in intervention, and in special education, and share their perspectives with teachers of other grades. “The continuum is intended to provide teachers with a conceptual tool that they can use to think constructively about their work. We want to support them in crafting instruction that will link their observations and deep knowledge of their own students with learning over time,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

The Classroom Teacher

The classroom teacher can use The Literacy Continuum as a foundation for teaching. “As you think about, plan for, and reflect on the effectiveness of providing individual, small-group, and whole-group instruction, you may consult different areas of the continuum,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). There are two sections within the guided reading, interactive read-aloud, shared reading, and writing about reading continuum. One section is to help guide teachers in selecting the texts they’ll use for various purposes, and the other section, which is in each continuum, is a list of behaviors and understandings used to plan text introductions, guide observations and interactions with individuals, and shape teaching decisions.

Interventionist or Special Education Teacher

The school’s interventionist or special education teacher can use The Literacy Continuum to assess the gap that students need to bridge to catch up to grade-level expectations.  They can use the continuum to select texts that have the highest potential for accelerated progress. Then, through observation of behaviors and understandings, they can use it to assess their students’ reading progress and the effectiveness of the teaching. “Assessment and observation will help you identify the specific areas in which students need help. Use the continuum to find the specific understandings that can guide intervention,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). With all good intervention, communication with the classroom teacher is important. If you’re both using the continuum, you’ll both be speaking the same literacy language.  

Literacy Coach

A literacy coach can use The Literacy Continuum as a foundation for coaching conversations. “It will be useful for coaches to help teachers become able to access information quickly in their copies of the continuum as part of their reflection on lessons they have taught and on their planning,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). The literacy coach and the teacher can work together, using the continuum, before, during, and after the observation of a lesson. The coach can use the language in the continuum to focus the conversation with the teacher on critical areas of teaching and learning. When the teacher is also using the continuum, they are both speaking the same language, which adds specificity to the conversation that will extend teachers’ understanding of learning processes and development over time.

Librarian

School librarians can use the continuum to select a range of texts on interesting topics and content areas. For example, librarians can refer to the continuum to help teachers find what books might be appropriate for interactive read-aloud, and help them build text sets for connected learning. They can use it to assist teachers in finding books at appropriate levels for students as well.

The Literacy Continuum isn’t just for the classroom teacher. Everyone in the school can use it to work toward a common language, which will lead to a coherent community. “When you and your colleagues teach for the same behaviors and understandings, your students will benefit from the coherence,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). 

~Jill Backman, Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager


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/ 

References:

Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades.© 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. © 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

October 20. 2016

What is The Literacy Continuum?

*This is the second in a series of blogs about The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. Don’t forget to read last week’s blog on the Systems of Strategic Actions, an essential part of The Literacy Continuum. Read on to learn more. 

You may have seen The Literacy Continuum on a colleague’s desk, flipped through it, and put it back down. You thought you were picking up a regular professional book, but what you found was a dense, flurry of words and colors that might as well have been in Greek. You were right about one thing: it is not a regular professional book. It is THE essential tool for elevating your language and literacy expertise. 

Think of The Literacy Continuum as a roadmap. It’s a tool to help you meet students where they are and lead them to where they need to be. It’s meant to help guide your assessment through observation, which would then inform your teaching. Your observations show you where their literacy skills sit on the "map," and will lead you to the correct route to take for the next step in instruction. This essential tool is comprised of eight continua, each focusing on a different aspect of Fountas and Pinnell’s learning and literacy instructional framework (Guided Reading, Second Edition, Fountas and Pinnell 2017) contributing in different yet complementary ways to students’ reading, writing, and language processes. Here’s how:

Reading Process

Four of the eight continua address reading: interactive read-aloud, shared and performance reading, guided reading, and writing about reading. Within these four continua, you will find a list of behaviors and understandings that students should be showing at each grade or reading level on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. The behaviors are organized according to the Systems of Strategic Actions for thinking within the text, beyond the text, and about the text. All of these strategic actions should be going on in the readers’ heads simultaneously as they process texts. As they move along in grades and levels, students expand their systems of strategic actions by meeting the demands of increasingly complex texts. “As you work with the continua related to reading, you will see a gradual increase in the complexity of the kinds of thinking that readers do. Most of the principles of learning cannot be pinpointed at one point in time or even one year. You will usually see the same kind of principle (behavior or understanding) repeated across grades or across levels of texts; each time remember that the learner is applying the principle in a more complex way to read harder texts,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Communication

The three continua about communication are writing, oral and visual communication, and technological communication. Whereas the writing about reading continuum is an excellent approach to helping students extend their thinking, it does not take the place of specific instruction that is devoted to helping students develop as writers. “Through the writing workshop, teachers help writers continually expand their learning of the craft, conventions, and process of writing to communicate meaning to an audience,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). The oral and visual communication continuum was created to focus on the broader area of communication beyond the printed word in listening and speaking, and presentation. In the technological communications continua, there are descriptions of specific goals for helping students find effective ways to use technology effectively for learning, communication, and research. “We cannot know exactly the kinds of communication skills that will be important in 2020 and beyond, but we can equip our students with the foundational competencies in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and technology that will allow them to take advantage of new opportunities for communication,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).   

Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study

For each grade in this continuum, you will find specific principles related to the nine areas of learning that are important for grades PreK–8: early literacy concepts, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, letter-sound relationships, spelling patterns, high-frequency words, and word-solving actions.  It is drawn from the longer continuum published in the Fountas & Pinnell Comprehensive Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study Guide.  “Our work is based on the premise that students not only need to acquire phonics and word analysis understandings, but also they need to apply these understandings daily to reading and writing continuous text. This volume shows how, over time, learning builds on learning. It is designed to help you think analytically about this complicated area of learning and be more precise in your planning and teaching for phonics, spelling, and word study,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

How is it different from the previous edition?

You may be familiar with the previous edition, The Continuum of Literacy Learning. The basic descriptions of text characteristics and behaviors and understandings are still there, but the descriptions are more precise. It’s easier on the eyes and arranged in a way that you can spend less time thinking about where on the Systems of Strategic Actions your student’s behaviors lie, and spend more time knowing how to instruct them.  

The key differences are:

·         Streamlined organization

·         Expanded behaviors and examples across the continua

·         First appearance of a behavior or goal or text characteristic is indicated by a red bullet [behaviors are acquired a nd then elaborated over time]

·         Clear organization of and explicit links to the Systems of Strategic Actions

·         Four-color design for clarity and focus

“Our intention was to create a document that holds these precise details in a way that serves as a reference for teaching. In this way, it serves as a curriculum guide to use in observation, planning, teaching, and reflecting, always asking, ‘What are my students showing that they know and can do?’”

Log in next week to read about Who is The Literacy Continuum for? And how is it used?

Jill Backman, Fountas and Pinnell Marketing Manager

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/ 

References:

The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. © 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

 

 

 

October 18. 2016

October Twitter Chat on The Literacy Continuum

On Thursday, October 13th, authors Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted a Twitter chat on The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum: A Tool for Assessment, Planning, and Teaching. People from all over the world chimed in to discuss The Literacy Continuum and its role in schools as a road map for literacy acquisition. Read on to see how this essential tool benefits classroom teachers, administrators, and coaches. See how these educators use The Literacy Continuum in student observation, which informs responsive teaching. Gain tips on different ways people are using it in the classroom in conjunction with other tools, such as Reader's Notebooks, sticky notes, etc. to enhance their teaching. See how teachers are using The Literacy Continuum for planning instruction that directly meets the needs of the students.  

The best way to describe The Literacy Continuum is as a road map. It tells you what behaviors and understandings to look for during student observation. Your observations tell you where their literacy skills sit on the "map," which will lead you to the correct route to take for the next step in instruction. 

Join us on November 17 at 8:00 p.m. EST for our next Twitter Chat on Guided Reading, Second Edition. 



October 13. 2016

What are the Systems of Strategic Actions?

*This is the first in a series of blogs about The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. In order to understand The Literacy Continuum it is essential to understand the Systems of Strategic Actions. Read on to learn more.

While we read books, magazines, blogs, etc., our brains are subconsciously and simultaneously performing a variety of in-the-head actions in order to understand the text in front of us. We notice words we haven’t heard before or understood. We form opinions. We predict what might happen next. Word solving, predicting, and critiquing are just three of the twelve Systems of Strategic Actions that are simultaneously happening in our heads while we’re processing a text.


 

Take a moment to look at the image above. Fountas and Pinnell have developed this Systems of Strategic Actions (SOSA) wheel to illustrate the thinking readers are engaged in as they process texts. Whether you’re a beginning reader or a seasoned reader, all twelve systems are in use. These cognitive systems are assembled and reassembled in the head as readers move from the easiest texts up a ladder of increasingly difficult texts. The demands of the instructional level text give readers opportunities to learn new ways of problem-solving that in turn builds the processing network.

With appropriate text opportunities and effective teaching, readers will continue to construct their in-the-head processing systems as they move across the grades and into adulthood. Below is a breakdown of these Systems of Strategic Actions.

Thinking Within the Text

Thinking within the text refers to searching for and using information, monitoring and self-correcting, solving words, maintaining fluency, adjusting, and summarizing for purposes and genre of text.  By engaging in these strategic actions, readers acquire a literal understanding of the text—“what is happening” or “the facts.” “Most of the time, these actions are unconscious. You don’t mentally tell yourself, ‘Now, I have to search for information.’ You just do it when prompted by internal questions. When studying for a test, for example, you might consciously remember details or a summary, but most of the time, you simply understand the text and recall the information automatically. Since you do not need to pay attention to the processing, your mind can be working on something else,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2009).  As a teacher, you can gather information about the first five systems of strategic actions by observing reading behavior.

Thinking Beyond the Text

Thinking beyond the text means bring your own thinking TO the understanding in a variety of ways.  Readers make predictions.  They make connections with personal experience, content knowledge, and other texts.  They synthesize new information, which requires differentiating between what they already know and adjusting that fund of knowledge to accommodate the new information they encounter in the text.  Readers  infer what is implied but not stated. “Again, you do not consciously understand these actions; they happen while you are reading. Much of your comprehension of a text comes not from the print itself but from what you bring to the reading. Anyone who has been a member of a book club knows that every person in the group has a slightly different interpretation of the text. These variations in interpretation are quite valuable when they are shared—everyone’s thinking is enriched,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2009).  As a teacher you can gain evidence of your students’ ability to think beyond the text by listening to their talk about it and examining their writing.

Thinking About the Text

Thinking about the text means examining it closely and in an analytic way.  Readers notice and analyze the writer’s craft and appreciate or criticize something about the writing. “When you say, ‘Amy Tan is one of my favorite writers,’ you are indicating that you like her style, the subjects she writes about, the way she organizes and tells a story, her choice of language, and so on. You are holding up the text as an object to be admired. Similarly, you might question the accuracy or authenticity of a text or be critical of the author’s motives or qualifications. Sometimes analyzing and critiquing are conscious efforts, especially if you plan to talk about the text with others; but just as often, they are unconscious. Proficient readers think analytically and critically all the time while they are reading,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2009).  Evidence of students’ ability to think about the text may be found in their talk and writing.

Through closely observing your students during oral reading, talk, or writing you can see the evidence of their control of all twelve systems. The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum shows you what behaviors you should be noticing and teaching for at each grade or level. Each behavior is categorized into one of the Systems of Strategic Actions, to help teachers make decisions during shared reading, interactive read-aloud, and guided reading lessons, as well as writing about reading.

“The common thread is that most children acquire a fully developed literacy processing system that grows and expands over the years. It is helpful to have in mind a clear picture of what effective readers do as they build their systems so we can think about what all readers need to be able to do,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2009).

Jill Backman, Fountas and Pinnell Marketing Manager

Join #FPLiteracy on Thursday, 10/13 at 8:00 p.m. EST for a LIVE Twitter Chat with @fountaspinnell   

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/ 

References:

When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works. © 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

October 5. 2016

What is LLI?


Even with many high-quality literacy opportunities, some students struggle with literacy learning. An intervention system gets them back on track so they can benefit fully from classroom instruction. Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy System (LLI) is a literacy intervention system for students who find reading and writing difficult. Its goal is to give students the boost they need to read at the same level as their peers.

Who is LLI for?

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.

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, 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—and to write with more complexity. With these goals in mind, students effectively engage in the reading and writing process every day, (Fountas and Pinnell 2012).

How does LLI work?

We use the term leveled because leveled books are a key component in helping students become competent readers and accessing texts of increasing complexity. Each book is carefully designed, analyzed, and sequenced to provide enough support and a small amount of challenge so the reader can learn on the text and make small steps towards grade-level goals.

When readers struggle, there is a critical need for highly effective, small-group intervention to get them back on track as soon as possible. There are some basic implementation principles that are essential if the intervention is expected to work effectively, (Fountas and Pinnell 2012).

We want interventions to be short term and intensive, with flexible entry and exit points so that individual needs may be accommodated in a small-group situation. If the intervention is early and effective, then the length will be shorter; however, students who are far behind may need a year or more of effective supplementary instruction. The layers of intervention should be flexible enough that the teacher can group and regroup students.

Lessons must be supplemental to good classroom instruction; it is the combination of high-quality classroom teaching and intensive small-group intervention lessons that enable learners to make accelerated progress, catch up with their peers, and continue to perform at expected levels for the grade.

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. And, the teacher-to-student ratio must be as low as possible. For the greatest impact in short-term intervention, we recommend a ratio of 1:3 for children performing at earlier levels (kindergarten, grades 1 and 2) and 1:4 for students performing at higher levels (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.

Excellent communication and teamwork among all who have a role in supporting the students’ progress are required for an intervention to help individual students. Students’ families need to know the goals of the intervention as well as what students will be expected to do for homework. Good communication between classroom and intervention teachers is essential so that they are working toward the same goals. It is critical to have a shared set of curriculum goals like those detailed in The Literacy Continuum, LLI is built on the foundation of the descriptions of text characteristics and strategic actions described for each level, A to Z, in this comprehensive tool, (Fountas and Pinnell 2012).

Finally…

When basic implementation requirements are in place, we need to dig deeper into research on literacy learning and reading difficulties to inform the design of teaching. What happens in the intervention must affect change. Many struggling students sit in daily 30- to 45-minute intervention lessons, yet little improvement is evident in what they are able to do independently.

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.

Stephanie Tucker, Fountas and Pinnell Marketing Manager

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 

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group for more collaborative conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/ 

References:

Leveled Literacy Intervention System Guide. © 2012 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

September 29. 2016

A Level is a Teacher's Tool, NOT a Child's Label


It’s hard enough to be a kid. They have lots of things to worry about: parents, friends, sports, grades, etc. Reading can be an escape from those worries, just like it is for adults; it’s a way to relax and plunge yourself into someone else’s world for a little while.  But what happens when a child finds out that they’re not reading on the “same level” as the other children? What does that even mean to them? It’s not good, they know that. Reading has now become another worry to add to the pile of worries.

Trying to climb the “level ladder” is not what reading is about. It should be about enjoyment and discovery. Focusing too much on text levels can cause problems. Fountas and Pinnell created the F&P Text Level Gradient ™ to be used as a teacher’s tool for assessment and instruction. The levels aren’t meant to be shared with the children or parents.

Help Students Build Self-Esteem and Love of Reading

“It is detrimental to a student’s self-esteem and to their love of reading when they are encouraged to measure their own progress by ‘moving up levels,’” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). Students should not use levels to compare themselves with others or to compete. This is counterintuitive to building a classroom community where each student is respected; has a sense of agency; values collaboration over competition; and grows up seeing themselves as literate.

Make “Choice” Authentic

Telling students to choose by “level” is not an authentic way to select books to read independently. That isn’t how I choose a book as an adult. In fact, I really love reading high fantasy, young adult books with a romantic twist. Can I read War and Peace? Sure, but I devour those YA novels like candy and that’s what we want students to do: get them to a point where they need to read every day; they yearn for it. As much as possible, strive for them to choose books in a way that all readers do—books that interest and engage them. 

Advocate for the Appropriate Use of Levels in Your School

Fountas and Pinnell believe very strongly that students’ reading levels have no place in teacher evaluation or on report cards to be sent home to parents. Too much emphasis on levels can lead to misconceptions on the part of families. Informing parents of the level at which their child is reading can make them uneasy.  They may see the level as a very exact measurement, but students don’t always read at a precise level. Parents also talk with other parents, and if they find that their child is reading at a lower level than other children, they might panic. But they don’t understand the intricacies of how those levels work the way you do.

Levels can be a resource for you and your colleagues to guide student choices for independent reading, but they should not be a limitation or a requirement. Leveled books are instructional tools for teachers who understand them—nothing more. Above all else, a level is a teacher’s tool, not a child’s label.

Jill Backman, Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager                                                                                                                       

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

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group for more collaborative conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/

September 23. 2016

What is a level and how can I make it work for me?

Levels of books are more complex than they seem.  The gradations of complexity from one level to the next are subtle, but significant.  Understanding levels and how they work takes time and practice. But it can be done! Here is an explanation to lay the foundation for learning the intricacies behind the levels and how you can use them to make your teaching efficient.

What are levels? 


First, look at the F&P Text Level Gradient ™. This gradient of reading difficulty was created and refined by Fountas and Pinnell as a teaching and assessment tool over the past thirty years. Each of the twenty-six points on the F&P Text Level Gradient ™, from easiest at level A to hardest at level Z, represents a small but significant increase in difficulty over the previous text level. (There is a level Z+ on our website, which refers to the highly complex texts, many of which contain very mature subject matter that students read in high school and college. But for our purposes here, let’s just look at A to Z.) Each level is made up of a composite of ten text characteristics that increase slightly in complexity as you move up the level. The ten text characteristics are:

  • genre 
  • text structure
  • content 
  • themes and ideas 
  • language and literary features 
  • sentence complexity 
  • vocabulary 
  • words 
  • illustrations
  • book and print features 

A great way to learn the specific characteristics of texts at each level and see how they increase in complexity is to get your hands on The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum www.fountasandpinnell.com/continuum. It’s all in there.

Uses of the text gradient

OK, so now you know what levels are and how they make up a gradient of text. How can the levels help in your classroom teaching? “A gradient of text is a powerful tool for you as a teacher. It helps you in the very challenging task of selecting texts that will challenge your readers and offer them opportunities to learn (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).” You can organize your leveled texts in magazine boxes or baskets from easiest to hardest. If you have a school book room, organize it by level, which will make selecting and using books easier for all your colleagues. But you want your students to choose books the way readers do—by author, topic, genre, and general interest—not by level. So, in classroom libraries (and school libraries) you don’t want the level to be a criterion or even visible. But more on that later. A nifty tool for looking up a book’s level is by accessing the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Books Website www.fandpleveledbooks.com. You can look up the titles and it will tell you the level, genre, and much more. Easy.

How do I know my students’ reading levels?

Begin with a benchmark assessment to learn your students’ instructional book level so you can group them and begin teaching www.fountasandpinnell.com/bas. Once you begin teaching, observe your students and notice their reading behaviors. There are specific behaviors to look for at each level that change slightly as you move up the F&P Text Level Gradient ™.  Students start at the instructional level, a level that offers some challenge, but not too much. Once they demonstrate good control of most of the behaviors and understandings at the level, move up a level to introduce more and new challenge opportunities for learning.

“A gradient of text is not a precise sequence of texts through which all readers pass. Books are leveled in approximate groups from which teachers choose for instruction. The teacher who recognizes the convenience of the gradient yet reminds herself of its limitations will be able to make good choices and test her decisions against children’s behaviors while reading and talking about texts (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).” Below is a figure that sums up what a text gradient is and is not.

So back to the aforementioned warning about not letting your students know at what level they’re reading. They may notice some levels on books (and as students grow more sophisticated, they will realize that some books are harder than others to read); but assure them that these markings are helpful to teachers but not important in choosing books. Teach them to evaluate a book for themselves. “It is destructive to measure their own progress by “moving up levels.” This does not provide the real motivation that consuming and talking about texts would (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).” To put it simply: a level is a teacher’s tool, NOT a child’s label.

Log in next week to learn more on that topic and how to avoid using levels as labels for students.


Jill Backman

Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager


References:

Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition. © 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

September 16. 2016

Twitter Chat: A Conversation on Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Third Edition

As the new school year begins, so do the monthly Fountas & Pinnell Twitter Chats. On Thursday night, September 15, 2016, the Fountas & Pinnell learning community joined Gay and Irene for "A Conversation on Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Third Edition." Below is the transcript of the conversation. You can follow us on Twitter here: @FountasPinnell and if you’re wondering how to get started on Twitter and how to participate in a chat, check out this free resource from Heinemann on Twitter for Educators. All of our chats follow the hashtag #FPLiteracy

Before you begin reading about the chat, some thoughts from Gay and Irene about Benchmark Assessment: 

  • If assessment does not result in improved teaching then its value in school diminishes greatly. 
  • Meet students where they are and bring them forward with intention and precision. 
  • Assessment is not teaching; it is gathering information for teaching.  
  • The ability to observe, analyze, and interpret reading behavior is foundational to effective teaching. 
  • The interpretation and use of benchmark data are more important than the scores themselves.




September 14. 2016

What is New in Benchmark Assessment System 1 and 2, Third Edition? Can I Use Second Edition Materials with the Third Edition?


Here we are again with another new edition! I assure you we are not trying to make you all crazy. The fact is: Fountas and Pinnell always have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening in our schools. They always want to know what’s working and what’s not working. What’s trending and what’s going out of style. And on top of it all they are always revising and they are ALWAYS working! (Just ask our editors here at Heinemann who are on the brink of insanity.) So when they saw that there was room for refinement in the Benchmark Assessment Systems it couldn’t go unaddressed.

What is Different?

Perhaps the most significant differences in the third edition are the new comprehension conversation rubrics and the more detailed assessment guidelines. Fountas and Pinnell have been able to observe many teachers administer and score the comprehension conversations with BAS, Second Edition through their work in schools over the last few years. “It became clear that gaining strong behavioral evidence of understanding using talk as evidence was new or unfamiliar to many teachers,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2016).  Because many teachers weren’t getting the ongoing professional development needed in standardized administration and scoring, Fountas and Pinnell decided they needed to offer more guidance. The goal is for teachers to achieve consistency. “The new guidelines and rubric will enable teachers to sharpen their observation of students’ reading behaviors and strengthen the connection from assessment to instruction,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2016).

Other changes to note are:

Updated Assessment Guide and Recording Forms

All new Professional Development and Tutorial Videos

Inclusion of the new The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum

Updated leveled books that include factual revisions to some nonfiction books and minor revisions to some fiction books

Recording Forms, summary forms, optional assessments, and videos will be available in one place on the Fountas & Pinnell Online Resources 

Updated Online Data Management System (ODMS) to accommodate both BAS, 2e and 3rd edition scoring

Updated BAS Reading Record App.


Can I use a mix of materials from the Benchmark Assessment 2nd and 3rd editions?

No, unfortunately. Changes have been made to both the Benchmark Books and the Recording Forms in the third edition. So using the two editions will not work because the text of the book and the text on the form will not always match, which will affect your ability to score a reader’s accuracy.

It’s also important to note that because of the modifications to the scoring rubrics, it is essential for all classrooms and teachers to be using the same edition. Maintaining consistency in assessment protocols within schools and across districts is critical. Some schools may not be ready to transition to the new edition, however, or have recently purchased the second edition shortly before the third edition was published. Heinemann does offer some solutions. Please contact your local sales representative to explore your options.  The second edition is still a reliable resource for teachers, but we urge you to learn more about the choices that are available.

They key word here is refinement. “With refinement comes reflection. Reflect on your assessment analysis and observations, and engage in a discussion with colleagues to plan rich and comprehensive literacy experiences that meet learners where they are and bring them forward with intention and precision,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2016).

Jill Backman

Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager


Join #FPLiteracy on Thursday, 9/15 at 8:00 p.m. EST for a LIVE Twitter Chat with @fountaspinnell   


Explore the Benchmark Assessment Systems 1 and 2, Third Edition at www.fountasandpinnell.com/bas

 

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group for more collaborative conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/

September 1. 2016

What’s New in Guided Reading, Second Edition? It’s not a revision…it has been re-envisioned.


You’ve had your trusty white-covered copy of Guided Reading on your shelf for years. Its frayed edges and bent pages from constant referencing have made it difficult to jam in between other books. You’ve even written your name in black marker across the cover to deter potential thievery. It’s a familiar friend. And now there’s a new edition?! What?! Don’t panic. Your friend is still as inspiring as ever. This is not a revision to a classic text, but rather… it has been RE-envisioned.

 

While this second edition is a completely new text, the “nuts and bolts” of how to use guided reading are still there. There are many new changes, but we’ve listed the key differences below.

 

More Emphasis on Responsive Teaching

One of the most important differences in the second edition is the extra emphasis on responsive teaching. It’s even in the subtitle, “Responsive Teaching Across the Grades.” What is “responsive teaching” you ask?  “It is the observation and analysis of the students’ reading behaviors that informs your next teaching moves. No matter how well you plan and structure learning tasks, it’s the one-on-one interactions that inform the power and effectiveness in your teaching,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). Responsive teaching is about teachers knowing their students well and knowing how to better teach them.

 

A Multi-text Approach to Teaching

Guided reading is important. We know that. But it isn’t the only instruction students need on a daily basis. In this edition, Fountas and Pinnell emphasize that guided reading should be embedded within a coherent literacy system, which means teaching that ranges from high teacher support, like interactive read-aloud and shared reading, all the way to independent reading. “Small-group instruction is more powerful when nested within a variety of instructional contexts with varying levels of support,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

 

A Focus on Creating a Community of Learners

One of the goals of this new edition is to get teachers to not only treat the classroom as a place to learn to read, write, and expand language skills, but to create a community of learners. “It is a laboratory where they learn how to be confident, self-determined, kind, and democratic,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). This new edition provides teachers with a list of behavioral and emotional expectations to look for in students. If students are not displaying these behaviors, teachers can provide numerous opportunities to help build them up and develop a sense of agency.

 

Support for Teaching in a Diverse Classroom

Fountas and Pinnell believe that there is an increasing need to prepare our children to become global citizens. Throughout this new edition there are many references that show teachers how to support English language learners by addressing the unique ways they can adjust their teaching to serve these students well.

 

Examples of Student-teacher Interactions

While students are learning a new topic, it is helpful for them to see demonstrations on how it is done. It is also helpful for us adults sometimes. For that reason, Fountas and Pinnell have provided many helpful examples of student-teacher interactions within guided reading groups in a clearly laid-out chart form.

 

New, Super Pretty, Colorful Book Features

There are over 100 full-color spreads of guided reading books, example charts, classroom photos, and more that punctuate the teachings throughout this new book. It’s just plain stunning. 

 

So yes…it’s a whole new book. It’s a beautifully-written, clearly presented, colorful, important new edition of your old companion. The world has changed and so has the thinking surrounding small-group instruction. “Change is not good or bad—it’s simply inevitable,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

 

Jill Backman

Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager

 

Explore the NEW Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades at http://www.fountasandpinnell.com/guidedreading/

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group for more collaborative conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/

 

References

Fountas, I.C. & Pinnell, G.S. (2017). Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.