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Teacher Tip Tuesday

February 13. 2018

9 Tips for Introducing New Words to Learn

As you help children learn new words, use some of the following teaching suggestions:

  1. Use language that makes it clear you are talking about a word (not a letter): “This word is [word].” (Some children confuse letters and words and may be focusing on only a part.)
  2. Encourage children to look at the beginning of the word and show them what that means.
  3. Read the word as you run your finger under it, left to right.
  4. Ask children to look closely at the word and say what they notice at the beginning.
  5. Ask children to look at the word and then read it as they run a finger under it, left to right.
  6. Use another word to help children remember a new word: an, and; the, then.
  7. Help children notice the first letter and then look across the word left to right to notice more.
  8. Give children magnetic letters in order to build the word left to right.
  9. Using magnetic letters, have children break a word by pulling down the first letter and then the rest of the letters. Then have them put it together again.

From Leveled Literacy Intervention Orange System Guide, Second Edition by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

February 6. 2018

How to Transition Younger Children to Independence

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

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

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

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

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

January 30. 2018

7 Tips for Engaging Struggling Readers in Independent Reading

As they engage in independent reading, students have many opportunities to process texts with ease and understanding. You'll want to guide struggling readers as they select books for themselves, but ultimately they must have the motivation of choice. Initially, they may wish to pretend to read harder books, but this is completely non-productive. Of all the students in the class, it is most important for struggling readers to successfully engage in independent processing. Here are several suggestions:

  1. Determine students' reading levels.
  2. Include in the classroom collection a good selection of books that are within students' reading ranges. Look for books that are interesting, and include a good variety. Informational texts may be especially helpful.
  3. Emphasize in minilessons the importance of selecting books that are interesting and "just right" for readers at the time.
  4. Create a supportive social environment in which individual selections are valued.
  5. Present both higher- and lower-level books in your "book talks" (short reviews to interest students in books).
  6. For students having special difficulty, pre-select some books from which these students then have a limited choice.
  7. Use individual conferences to support student reading and help students "rehearse" what to write about or talk about relative to their reading.

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.
January 23. 2018

3 Tips for Forming LLI Groups

When forming LLI groups, children do not always fall neatly into just the right number of groups. After all, they are individuals who cannot be defined by “reading level.” You will probably have to do some problem-solving when you begin to group children. Your goal is to group the children so that the level of instruction will be appropriate for all of them. Our recommendation is to start the group at a text level that allows every child to begin with success. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make some “one level” compromises. Three children whose instructional levels are B, B, and C, for example, may be able to read together and benefit from the intervention lessons starting at level B. 
  • If you are working alongside a teacher in a classroom, make arrangements for a child from the neighboring classroom to join the group you are teaching. 
  • Take children at the same level from different classrooms (but be sure that it doesn’t take too much time to assemble them in the space you are teaching). 

Your priority should be to group children efficiently and effectively so that you can teach them at the appropriate level.

From LLI Orange System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

January 16. 2018

Teacher Tip: Sharing Guided Reading Texts Among Several Classrooms

You may be sharing guided reading texts with a team of fellow teachers. If so, consider the following tips and ideas for coordinating the use of the texts and accompanying lessons.

  • Meet before the school year begins to create a plan for sharing the books and lessons.
  • Store books in an area that is easily accessible to all teachers who are sharing them. You may wish to create a book room for your school. A book room houses a wide range of leveled books from levels A through Z that you share with your team. Books and accompanying lessons are stored together in bags and organized in bins by level.
  • You may wish to create a simple check-out system for keeping track of which classroom is using which titles.

For detailed advice on how to create and use a school book room, see Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades or Leveled Books for Readers.

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.

January 9. 2018

Teacher Tip: Organizing for Book Clubs

Book clubs can take place anywhere in your classroom where there is room for small groups of children to sit, either in a circle of chairs or in a circle on the floor, and discuss books together. Designate a shelf in your resource area where you can store the books and discussion cards together for easy access.

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.

January 2. 2018

Twelve Tips for Powerful Teaching in Guided Reading Lessons

The following are some guiding principles that may help you get more power in your teaching:
  1. Notice the student's precise reading behaviors.
  2. Eliminate ineffective behaviors and help the reader do what proficient readers do. 
  3. Select a text on which the reader can learn how to read better- not too difficult and not too easy. 
  4. Teach the reader not the text.
  5. Teach the student to read written language not words.
  6. Teach for the student to initiate effective problem-solving actions. Use clear precise language that passes the control to the reader. 
  7. Only ask the student to do what you know he can do. 
  8. Don't clutter the teaching with too much talk. 
  9. Focus on self-monitoring and self-regulating behaviors so the reader becomes independent. 
  10. Build on examples of successful processing. 
  11. Teach for fast responding so the reader can process smoothly and efficiently.
From Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.