search navigation
February 28. 2017

Use Interactive Writing as an Opportunity for Children to Learn About Letters: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Early experiences in interactive writing offer kindergarten children an opportunity to learn about letters. At the same time, even though that have very limited knowledge of literacy, they are participating in the construction of a meaningful text. Working with with letters within a known text is a more powerful learning experience than simply working with a letter in isolation. Children are highly engaged because they see that letters have a purpose. And, when they read and write, they must recognize letters that are embedded in words that are embedded in sentences.

During interactive writing, you can draw children's attention to letters and help them learn how to look at them by using the following teaching directives:

  • Have the children say the name of the letter (m).
  • Talk about the features of the letters (a stick and two humps).
  • Demonstrate the motions necessary to make the letter.
  • Talk about the motions while making them (pull down, over and down, over and down).
  • Have the children trace the letter in the air on the floor, talking aloud about the motions while making them.
  • Show the children how to check the letter against a model (alphabet chart or name chart).
  • Show the children how to make connections between the letter and known words, particularly names.
Adapted from Interactive Writing: How Language & Literacy Come Together, K-2 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2000 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

February 24. 2017

Build COHERENCE in Your Classroom with a Multi-text Approach to Literacy Instruction

Fountas and Pinnell  believe that learning deepens when students think, talk, read, and write about authentic texts across many different instructional contexts. They believe that each instructional context should work as a coherent system that improves student outcomes, and creates literacy opportunities for the whole school. In their new system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom, each context works together in a cohesive manner to support the literacy learning of every student. “All play an essential role; they contribute in different ways to each student’s development as readers, writers, and language users,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). More...

February 17. 2017

Twitter Chat Recap on the NEW Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™

On Thursday, February 16, Heinemann hosted a Twitter Chat in which they interviewed authors Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell about their newest system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC). People from all over the country followed along in order to learn more about this exciting, first-of-its-kind, cohesive system for high-quality classroom-based literacy instruction. Educators were highly engaged making #FPLiteracy the #1 trending hashtag for the entire hour-long chat, and well into the night. Followers learned about everything from the instructional contexts that make up FPC to what is at the heart of the system. They learned about the many components and high-quality texts that are included while gaining insight into the philosophy that went into its creation.

To read the whole chat, click the link below. And mark your calendars to log in on Thursday, March 16, 2017 at 8 p.m. (EST) as we continue the exciting chat series on Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™! More...

February 7. 2017

10 Ways to Make Letter Learning Effective for Struggling Readers: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

You need to make your instruction count when you are helping struggling readers learn how to look at letters. Here is a list of some general suggestions you can use during word study, reading, or writing. Use these ideas every time there is an opportunity.

1. Be sure that letters are clearly printed in black or dark print on white or cream paper.

2. Be sure that readers are at all times able to see the print in word study lessons or in shared or interactive writing.

3. For beginning readers and writers (and children who are having difficulty), select texts with a consistent and clear font.

4. Use a verbal description of letter formation (the "verbal path") to help children learn features of text.

5. Use a variety of ways to draw children's attention to the features of letters.

6. Provide kinesthetic experiences that help children learn directionality and the distinctive features of letters. (colored plastic letters, making letters in sand or salt, sandpaper letters)

7. Use magnetic letters to help children feel letter features as they sort them and build words.

8. Vary the ways children view letters as they read or write them.

9. Emphasize looking at the letters in words from left to right.

10. Create strong references that will help children keep the letter and a key word beginning with the letter in mind. (Alphabet Linking Chart)

Excerpted from When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.