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April 13. 2018

FAQ Friday: What are the Major Differences Between Benchmark Assessment System, Second and Third Editions?

Q: What are the major differences between Benchmark Assessment System, Second and Third Editions?

  • New Comprehension Conversation Scoring Rubrics. The new rubrics enable more rigorous and consistent administration, analysis, and scoring. 
  • Revised Comprehension Conversation scoring. We have found that teachers need more guidance on how to conduct the Comprehension Conversation portion of the reading record. To provide this help, we have more clearly defined this process through the creation of a new rubric and have updated the scoring criteria. As a result, there will be more consistency and accuracy in scoring this portion of the assessment. Elimination of the extra point will bring greater consistency of scoring among teachers. 
  • Updates to the Assessment Guides, Recording Forms, Online Data Management System, and the Benchmark Assessment System Reading Record Apps
  • Enhanced digital delivery and elimination of physical CDs and DVDs. All Recording Forms, Summary Forms, optional assessments, and all NEW Professional Development Videos and Tutorial Videos are now available on Online Resources. In an effort to meet the changing technology landscape, we are eliminating the inclusion of any CDs or DVDs in the system. A unique product code, available on the inside front cover of each Third Edition Assessment Guide, will "unlock" the content in Online Resources. 
  • All new student and teacher video examples on the Professional Development Videos. Video examples are updated with all new content, including the new prompts and scoring for the comprehension conversation. 
  • Benchmark Assessment books revised for factual information in nonfiction and other minor changes in fiction and nonfiction.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

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 10. 2018

Teacher Tip: 5 Tips for Creating a Prekindergarten Classroom Library

A classroom library is an essential feature of a literacy-rich prekindergarten classroom. You may wish to incorporate these ideas as you design your library.

  • Place the classroom library among quieter work areas, such as the writing center and listening center. 
  • Create a comfortable environment for reading with rugs, pillows, and lamps. 
  • Display a wide assortment of picture books, including simple books with one or two lines of print per page, books from shared reading and interactive read-aloud, alphabet books, counting books, books about colors and shapes, pattern books, pop-up books, and informational books.
  • Label baskets or shelves with both pictures and words. Matching colored dots on books and baskets will help children return books to the correct place.
  • Provide stuffed animals ("listening buddies") that children can read to.
From The Literacy Quick Guide: A Reference Tool for Responsive Literacy Teaching by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

April 6. 2018

FAQ Friday: Can Chapter Books Be Used for Guided Reading?

Q: Can chapter books be used for guided reading?

A: You can occasionally use a chapter book in guided reading, but we recommend selecting books that can be read within about a week. Teaching for comprehending is one reason that we recommend the selection of short texts for guided reading. The things students learn reading short texts can be applied to longer texts in independent reading. One of the advantages of using short texts is that students can experience a great variety of texts in a short time – as many as three to five a week! So, if you do occasionally use a chapter book to build stamina, plan to move quickly, having students read several chapters each day to finish in one or two weeks.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

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/ 


April 4. 2018

Daily Lit Bit - 4/4/18

School shouldn't be a place where everything is leveled. It should resemble a library or a bookstore where books are categorized by author, by topic, by genre, anything that would interest readers. We want the readers not to see themselves as a level, but as people who are choosing books that interest them and that they want to read.