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November 7. 2017

Why The Literacy Continuum is Critical to Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™


As a teacher using the new Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ System (FPC) you may have been hearing over and over: in order to use the materials as effectively as possible, you need to use The Literacy Continuum to shape the suggested lesson for the learning needs of your particular students. This valuable tool enables you to adjust, extend, and enhance the materials in FPC to the benefit of each student you teach.

Each FPC lesson was written, each original book title was created, and each trade book was chosen based on text characteristics and goals taken directly from The Literacy Continuum. So why do you need to refer to it if the lessons already identify the goals for you? Here’s why:

For Assessment

Effective teaching begins with good assessment. The Literacy Continuum is a tool that describes the observable reading, writing, or language behaviors of proficient students at the level. It provides you with a set of goals, behaviors, and understandings at each reading level (for guided reading) and grade level (for all other instructional contexts) that you can match to the specific competencies you observe in your students. By frequently referring to the behaviors and understandings from The Literacy Continuum during your observations of oral reading, talk, or writing you will know what your students already control, almost control, or do not yet control. You need The Literacy Continuum to know precisely where to meet your students in order to bring them forward using the FPC materials.

For Planning

The Literacy Continuum is a planning tool. You’ve used it to identify goals for your students. Now you can use it to prioritize a few emphases that will be most important for leading your students forward. Since The Literacy Continuum describes proficiency, your teaching needs to bring your students to those competencies. Even though FPC includes a suggested sequence of lessons in each instructional context, you may choose to vary the suggested sequence and the lesson content based on your knowledge of your students. No one lesson can fit the precise needs of your students.

For Teaching

In the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ System, critical behaviors and understanding are identified. They will guide you to think about the specific level and important demands but only you will have the daily observations of your students’ competencies. The Literacy Continuum, as a companion to the lessons, will enable you to refine the goals to meet the specific needs of your students.

For some of you, The Literacy Continuum goes where you go. It’s tattered and smudged from constant use. Having a battered copy of The Literacy Continuum isn’t a sign of misuse; it’s a sign of USE. It means that you are using it the way it was intended: as an everyday tool to assess, plan for, and teach your students to process oral and written language with competency and confidence.  


~Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

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/ 
November 6. 2017

Teacher Tip: How to Engage Parents in Fountas & Pinnell Classroom

There are many opportunities throughout Fountas & Pinnell Classroom to engage parents and caregivers. For example, parents and caregivers can support their children at home by:

  • Listening to the books their children bring home to read
  • Reading books aloud to their children
  • Talking about books together
  • Going to the library
  • Encouraging their children to write for authentic purposes (such as a grocery list, a letter, or directions)
  • Singing songs together
  • Reciting nursery rhymes or poetry together
  • Talking with their children about a variety of topics
  • Encouraging their children to play outside every day
  • Encouraging play in which their children use imagination.

You may also want to invite parents and caregivers into the classroom throughout the year for special literacy occasions, such as:

  • Listening to their children participate in Reader's Theater
  • A reading celebration in which parents and caregivers listen to their children read or they read to their children
  • Watching a puppet show or simple lay the children have written and perform
  • Creating a Literacy Museum where children dress up as a character from a book and share the book with their parent or caregiver.
As you actively and creatively engage parents and caregivers in the literacy lives of their children, each child and family knows that their traditions and cultures are honored and the collaborative partnership between home and school is valued. 

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.

November 6. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 11/6/15

Whether you are teaching prekindergarteners to recognize individual letters in their names or you are teaching sixth graders to recognize bias in the language of a persuasive text, your work is transformative. It’s demanding, challenging, and at times altogether frustrating. But your work as a teacher of literacy is also worthwhile and important because it transforms the lives of children.

November 3. 2017

Don’t Miss Out on These FREE Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Resources!

The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Community at www.fountasandpinnell.com

This website is full of information, resources, tools, research, answers, and inspiration for all things Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™. Become a member for free now, and receive access to all of these exciting benefits:

  • Live Webinars. These informative webinars are hosted by Fountas and Pinnell themselves. Search the Resource Library on fountasandpinnell.com to find recordings of past webinars on a full range of topics, and as a member you will receive notices for upcoming live webinars as they are scheduled. 
  • The Discussion Board. This forum is a place to find answers to all your questions regarding content, release dates, general queries, and more. You can start by searching the immense database of already-asked-and-answered questions. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can post your question and expect a quick answer from one of our trained consultants who are constantly monitoring. 
  • Resource Library. This library contains video, study guides, instructional tools, product samplers, product updates, and so much more. If you’re looking for something, you will most likely be able to find in in this wonderful resource. 
  • FAQ Friday. Some questions are more frequently asked than others. Check the fountasandpinnell.com homepage every Friday to find the answers to the most burning questions. 
  • Teacher Tips. These useful, actionable tips are posted every Tuesday on the fountasandpinnell.com homepage.
  • Lit Bits. Each day, visit the fountasandpinnell.com homepage and get a little dose of inspiration from these shareable, daily quotes from Fountas and Pinnell.

The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group

This members-only page is a place for educators to come and seek answers to questions; seek advice from colleagues about classroom organization, instruction, etc., or just connect with wonderful, like-minded educators from all over the world.

Sign up now and stop missing out on these amazing resources! They’re free!

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team

November 3. 2017

FAQ Friday: How Long is a Shared Reading Lesson?

Q: How long is a Shared Reading lesson?

A: You should spend 10 minutes each day doing shared reading, and each shared reading book should be revisited several times over multiple days.  How many days you stay with a book depends on how engaged the students are with the text.

Example lesson:

  • Day/sitting 1– teacher reads and discusses text to the children and children read the whole text with the teacher
  • Day/sitting 2 – children read the text with the teacher (may be for a different purpose or the same as the day before) and discuss
  • Day/sitting 3 or more – children read the text with the teacher for various purposes until the teacher feels it is time to move to another book.

There is not just one way to do shared reading and it is not really a straight linear progression.  You may revisit a book more than once and target something different each time.  You can also reread the same book during a different sitting in the same day.

November 1. 2017

Daily Lit Bit - 11/1/17

Collaborative inquiry is coming together with colleagues and delving into what students' behaviors mean. What evidence shows they're making progress? How can I tell if something is going wrong? How can I fix it? By looking at The Literacy Continuum together as a tool to engage in that process, the collaborative inquiry, it makes colleagues of us all.

October 31. 2017

Teacher Tip: What To Do When A Student Has Read All of the Benchmark Assessment System Books

In order to get an accurate assessment using the Benchmark Assessment System and obtain observable evidence of what a student can process and understand independently it's important that the student not have already read any of the books. Sometimes, however, you might have students who seem to have "slid" back a level, perhaps over the summer or holidays. So what do you do when your students have already read the books? Here are some steps to consider: 
  • It is critical to look at The Literacy Continuum and determine what strategies need to be taught to a student who is not progressing beyond a specific level. Start there, and use other forms instruction, e.g., guided reading, to assess the student by observing what he or she specifically needs to help them process texts.
  • You can also take a quick and informal assessment by having the student read aloud from one or two other leveled books from your classroom library. Assess the percentage of words read accurately and note specific errors (substitutions, omissions, insertions). You will have an assessment of accuracy and also insights into the kind of information the child is using when errors are made (for example, words that look like other words, or words that are inaccurate but make sense). Errors can sometimes illustrate a child’s strengths and give you insights into how to help him or her.
  • When following the oral reading, involve the child in a conversation that will help you know what he or she understood from the text. You can ask several questions but the assessment should not feel like an interrogation. You could try to ask questions similar to the Benchmark Assessment System prompts.
  • If the level of the text is too difficult, move down the levels until you find something the child can read at instructional level with good understanding.
When you are simply trying to teach to the level, without fine tuning their instruction based on the individual student needs, we end up with students not progressing.