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April 20. 2018

FAQ Friday: Are There Plans to Add Books to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System?

Q: Are there plans to add books to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System?

A: There are no plans to add books to the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. We feel that the two books at each level (one fiction, one nonfiction) are all that is needed. If you use a book for an assessment conference at the beginning of the year, the child will likely be reading at a different level by the next conference interval. If for some reason this is not the case, use the alternate book at that level. Furthermore, if a book is too hard for a child, you should discontinue the reading. You can use this book again if the child read very little of it months before.

If you are finding that a student is not progressing, take a look at The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum for that level to see in what behaviors the student may be lacking. Then, try and focus your teaching around cultivating those behaviors.

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

April 17. 2018

Teacher Tip: Conduct a Self-Assessment to Elevate Your Teaching

Take the time to reflect on your teaching. Select one instructional setting a week and analyze: How did it go? How did students respond? What shifts in learning are you confident that took place? Don’t get mired in the details or expect to do everything perfectly, but notice whether you and your students are beginning to handle routines smoothly and automatically, leaving more time for rich talk and thinking. Call in a colleague to observe, and talk through your self-assessment with her. 

For the purpose of guided reading, we include a Self-Assessment for Guided Reading on p.590 of Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades and in Online Resources (resources.fountasandpinnell.com). It is comprehensive, but you can select one or only a few areas at a time. We also include a simpler and more abbreviated self-reflection form (Self-Assessment: Getting Started with Guided Reading). In our other professional books and on our website, you will find many such tools to support your continuous learning. Perhaps the most valuable aspect of self-reflection and professional development is the talk and problem solving that takes place between colleagues as a result.

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.

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.