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May 4. 2018

FAQ Friday: Unpacking the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System

Q: How do I organize the materials in the new Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System?

A: View this UNPACKING Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System document for a step-by-step guide on how to organize the materials that come in the system. 

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

May 3. 2018

Six Reasons to Bring Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Into Your School

By now, you know what Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC) is—a first-of-its-kind cohesive system for high-quality, classroom-based literacy instruction. We know what it’s made of—authentic or carefully selected engaging books, and the highest quality instructional material. But what truly sets FPC apart? As a system, FPC stands apart from "reading programs" in its commitment and fidelity to the following principles.

1. Instructional Coherence

FPC is designed as a coherent system. The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum serves as the instructional anchor for every lesson, goal, and book in each of the seven instructional contexts that comprise the system. But while there are separate instructional contexts that can be purchased separately, the real power of FPC comes when each part is used as a whole. Each instructional context in FPC is reciprocally connected to the others, improving student outcomes and creating equitable opportunities for all students. 

2. Responsive Teaching

In FPC, you teach individual readers, not a program. FPC honors and supports those moment-to-moment instructional decisions that teachers make based on their observations and analysis of student’s learning behaviors. It is not a script. Consider each lesson a blueprint for instruction that best supports the learners in the classroom. 

3. Multi-text Approach

Books are at the heart of FPC. There are books that are excite children and stir their imaginations. There are books that challenge and lift every reader. There are diverse books that expand readers’ knowledge of the words. Every book in FPC is carefully written or selected to support an instructional context. 

4. Student Inquiry

Children are curious. FPC allows children’s curiosity to propel authentic learning and discovery. As children think across texts, they pursue lines of inquiry that intersect and engage them as learners, and build knowledge of different topics and themes across a range of disciplines.

5. Language-Based

Reading is thinking grounded in text. Students talk reflects their thinking. FPC is rich with robust opportunities for varied talk structures within each instructional context.

6. Teacher Expertise

Your knowledge of your students informs responsive teaching. The extensive professional learning tools woven into the system help educators develop their craft, strengthen instructional decision-making, and deliver high-impact literacy instruction.

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ is centered on one powerful principle: what we teach, we value; and what we value, we teach. It is built on a set of foundational core values that together reflect a vision of what literacy education can be: a shared commitment to meaningful, effective, responsive teaching that ensures the right of every student to lead a literate life.

~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 

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

For more collaborative conversation, join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group at 

April 30. 2018

Teacher Tip: Effective Practices for Book Talks

Book talks are brief introductions – teasers or commercials" of sorts – to new books. Book talks can remind students of the wide variety of books available to them in your classroom library. Here are a few effective practices for book talks:

  • If books are part of a series, you may want to gather several or all the titles in the series and do one book talk, as the books will be similar in style and/or have the same characters. 
  • Deliver minilessons that teach students to make book talks of their own. 
  • Make your approach to each book talk unique, e.g., begin with a question, read an interesting sentence, read the opening, read the back cover, or share an illustration.
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 26. 2018

FAQ Friday: Do the Shared Reading Books in FPC Have Levels?

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

A: No. The Shared Reading books are not leveled. Leveled books are ONLY meant to be used in guided reading instruction and to guide students during independent reading.

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

The guided reading books in FPC were created and leveled according to the text characteristics in the Guided Reading section of The Literacy Continuum. The guided reading section is organized by the F&P Text Level Gradient™, A–Z+. The Shared Reading books were created according to the text characteristics in the Shared Reading section of The Literacy Continuum, which is organized by grade level, not by levels according to the gradient. The characteristics upon which the Shared Reading books were created are different from that of the guided reading characteristics so they cannot be leveled according to the gradient.

The accompanying smaller books should only be used for independent reading, not guided. The children are meant to be encouraged to reread them after the Shared Reading lesson in order to practice. They cannot be used in guided reading because they are not created according to guided reading characteristics, and therefore would not correspond with any level on the F&P Text Level Gradient™.

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

April 26. 2018

Getting Kindergarteners to Level D

In 2012, as the result of ongoing data collection, changes were made to the recommended grade-level goals on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. Instead of kindergarteners completing the grade at an instructional level C the gradient shows them exiting at an instructional level D. Since this change, many kindergarten teachers struggle with how to meet this goal. But it’s important to know that it is possible! Below are some suggestions on how to accomplish this goal in practical ways that also instills an absolute joy of reading and writing.

A Literacy-Rich Day

Literacy should be woven through everything you do from the minute your children walk in the door. For example, as soon as children arrive for the day, they fall into a routine of finding and flipping over a name card in a pocket chart to indicate attendance. Then they sign their names in response to a question on a class-size piece of paper before going to an opening circle. The question and talk around the responses can then begin the opening circle. So just in walking in the door and getting to circle, children have been exposed to letters, sounds, opinions, writing of their names (letter formation), and talk supporting an opinion. 

Interactive Read-Aloud

Through interactive read-aloud, we teach children to think and share using books that not only instill joy but provoke conversation. We model for children how to use pictures to make predictions and connections, as well as infer how characters are feeling or what is motivating their actions. We also model language, language structures, and how to talk about books, scaffolding children who have limited language.

Shared Reading

In shared reading, we begin to show children how print works using books with enlarged text that have wonderful illustrations and language that pull the children in. These books are designed for children to be able to read them with support after having heard them read at least once. We bring attention to letters and sounds; concepts of print, such as left to right; phonological awareness with a focus on hearing rhymes, syllables, and words; and, later, focusing on individual sounds with attention to building a bank of high-frequency words and comprehension.

Shared and Interactive Writing

Shared and interactive writing should also be an important part of the daily routine. In shared writing, children see what it looks like to be a writer as they contribute to the thinking that goes on the page. This might be a shared experience or response to something read or a story the children are composing together. It can be as simple as a list of some kind or labeling of an illustration. You are writing out loud, saying what you are doing as you are doing it, and giving your children opportunities to choose words, practice language structures, and see and hear how letters are formed. 

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop will give children an opportunity to practice what you are doing in shared and interactive writing. And though it may begin with only drawing, it will build as they have daily lessons in writing through your shared and interactive writing.


Your observations from all of this work will lead to differentiation in small-group work leading toward guided reading. In small group, you can differentiate with fun tasks and lessons in letter/sound correspondence, phonological awareness, letter formation, and, later, high-frequency words. You can even do small group shared reading for those who need more practice in a book previously used. 

Rely on the Resources 

We have to depend on the resources we have available in order to reach the goal of getting children to level D. The most important resource we can use is The Literacy Continuum. Through using this valuable resource on a daily basis we can truly understand the many stepping stones that lead to the goal of level D. Become familiar with the goals of text levels A–D. Read the snapshots carefully at the beginning of each level description. Note the characteristics that change from level to level. 

Other valuable resources include Literacy's Beginnings, which is a wonderful text that describes what a literacy-rich kindergarten classroom looks and sounds like, and the new Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Kindergarten System, which includes materials to support teachers and administrators in providing a literacy-rich kindergarten appropriate to the 21st century.

We still have many young children entering kindergarten with no literacy knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they are struggling or that learning will be hard for them. It often means they haven’t had the opportunity. We have to provide those opportunities with a goal of kindergarten being fun but embedding learning within the fun and making every minute count.

Read HERE about the rationale behind the changes to the F&P Text Level Gradient™.  

~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 

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

For more collaborative conversation, join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group at