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May 17. 2018

The POWER of Professional Learning

Teacher expertise is at the heart of student achievement. Continuous professional learning using a rich variety of resources and opportunities is crucial to elevating that teacher expertise. Materials themselves help teachers grow professionally, but alongside that teachers need good professional learning opportunities. Professional learning makes the work come alive.

Professional learning gives you renewed energy. It strengthens instructional decision making, empowers teachers with the latest in literacy thinking, transforms teaching and learning, and invokes a culture of collegiality and teacher expertise. Read on to learn more about the benefits of professional learning, as well as the variety of opportunities that are available to you and your colleagues.

The Importance of Collaboration

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of professional learning and development is the talk and problem solving that takes place between colleagues. Through regular, planned professional learning opportunities, you and your fellow teachers can further develop your craft, strengthen your instructional decision-making, and confidently deliver high-impact literacy instruction that enhances the learning experience of each student.

The Benefits to Your Students

The single most important factor in students' literacy success is skillful, informed teaching. Student achievement rises dramatically when teachers work in climates of collegiality and continual improvement. Through regular collaboration with your colleagues you create a common vision, common goals, and a common language, which will transfer over to your students making learning more concise and focused. Teacher expertise is the only way to raise student achievement.

Professional Learning Opportunities 

While all of the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ books, resources, and systems are deeply rooted in teacher professional learning, the following opportunities are available to further develop that teaching craft and foster a climate of collegiality and community.

OFF-SITE Each year, educators from around the world join Fountas and Pinnell and their consultants, in multi-day professional learning institutes, and leave with renewed energy and understanding that will inform their teaching all year.

ON-SITE On-site, school-based seminars are developed by Fountas and Pinnell and delivered by expert consultants who are selected and trained by the authors.

ONLINE Led by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, each Webinar Series consists of a series of four interactive sessions. In addition, our self-paced On-Demand Mini-Courses explore some of the foundational ideas behind Fountas and Pinnell’s work.

THE FOUNTAS & PINNELL LITERACY™ COMMUNITY Join the thousands of educators from around the world on one of the fastest-growing online literacy communities and gain exclusive access to tools, resources, conversations, videos, tips, inspiration, and much more. *Sign up today to receive an organized 2018/2019 teacher planner while supplies last! 

FOUNTAS & PINNELL LITERACY™ LEARNING GROUP Through this highly active Facebook community, you can connect, converse, ask questions, and share stories on how you’ve implemented your favorite Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ resources in the classroom.

The end of the school year is a great time to meet with your colleagues to reflect upon the professional learning activities that together you participated in throughout the year.  School may be coming to an end but you can come up with a plan for professional leaning now for the beginning of next school year, and hit the ground running!

And don't forget to join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Community to get your free 2018/2019 Teacher Planner!

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team

May 10. 2018

Make Learning Visible Through Reading Minilessons

*This week's blog is in preparation for next week's free, LIVE webinar with Fountas and Pinnell on Putting Reading Minilessons Into Action. Join us on Wednesday, 5/16 at 4:00 p.m. EST to learn more about Reading Minilessons! Register HERE.

In a literacy-rich classroom, students have a variety of reading experiences throughout the day. They hear written texts read aloud through interactive read-aloud, they participate with their classmates in shared reading, and they experience tailored instruction in small guided reading groups. But it is through the reading minilesson that you build on those experiences by making one important understanding visible. Students are then responsible for applying that understanding consistently in their reading, which will allow them to reach their ultimate goal: joyful, independent, and meaningful processing of a written text.

The Role of Reading Minilessons in Literacy Learning

A reading minilesson takes only a few minutes per day and usually involves the whole class. Each minilesson engages your students in an inquiry process that leads to the discovery and understanding of a general principle. It builds on a shared literacy experience (e.g., interactive read-aloud, shared reading, book clubs, guided reading) that the children have participated in prior to the lesson. The reading minilesson serves as a link between that prior literacy experience and their ability to apply this experience to their own independent reading. Making these explicit links is the goal of minilessons. All teaching, support, and confirmation lead to a student’s successful, independent reading. 


How Do Fountas & Pinnell Reading Minilessons Work?

The minilessons in The Reading Minilessons Book by Fountas and Pinnell are organized into four types:

Management: Teach routines that are essential to the smooth functioning of the classroom and other instructional contexts.

Literary Analysis: Build students’ awareness of the characteristics of various genres and the elements of fiction and nonfiction texts.

Strategies and Skills: Reinforce broad principles that every reader in the class needs to learn.

Writing About Reading: Introduce and help students’ use a reader’s notebook to respond to what they read and promote independent literacy learning.

Each of the four types of reading minilessons is organized into broad categories, or “umbrellas.” 


An umbrella is a group of related minilessons. Presenting several lessons within one umbrella helps children develop a deeper understanding of concepts and their application. As lessons build on each other, teachers will make a visual representation of the principles (e.g., anchor chart) that can be referenced again and again as students encounter new texts. Minilessons are most powerful when taught in response to an observed authentic need. Click here to view a sample minilesson.

Through minilessons you will be able to foster a classroom community through the development of shared language. You will be able to create relevance by linking to previous learning experiences and reinforce effective processing systems. Reading minilessons can be a powerful tool in developing students’ deep knowledge of literacy concepts, which will lead to the enjoyment of the written text every day. This is what it means to grow up literate in our schools. 

~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/ 
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 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 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.

Observation 

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 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 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 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/ 


March 29. 2018

Lift Your Professional Learning with Multi-Day Institutes

Materials themselves help teachers grow professionally, but alongside that teachers need good professional learning opportunities. Professional learning makes the work come alive. Each year, educators from around the world join Irene C. Fountas, Gay Su Pinnell, and their consultants, in multi-day professional learning institutes, and leave with new energy and understanding that will inform their teaching all year. 

Below are some of the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™-focused multi-day institutes that Heinemann offers along with information about what can be gained from these fulfilling professional learning opportunities. Not only are you expanding your learning, but you will also enjoy a night on the town in some of the best places to visit in the country with either colleagues who have joined you or new friends you've made during the day!

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™, Grades PreK–3, “Create a Coherent Vision for Literacy Learning: Getting Started with Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™,” presented by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

May 21 – 24, Dallas, TX *Early-bird rate ends soon, so register now!

In this interactive four-day institute, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell will present their vision to lift students' literacy learning through authentic experiences in reading, thinking, talking, and writing using Fountas & Pinnell Classroom, a first-of-its-kind, cohesive system for high-quality classroom-based literacy instruction.

Throughout this intensive institute, Fountas and Pinnell will show how each whole-group, small-group, and individual instructional context within Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ work together to develop coherence in the literacy learning of every student across the grades.

Built into each day will be an opportunity for administrators to have a breakout session with the authors to focus on administrator and leadership needs in implementing an ambitious vision for improving student outcomes. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Grades K–2, “Teaching Readers Who Struggle and Teaching Within LLI Lessons,” developed by Fountas and Pinnell, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants

April 23–24, Burlingame, CA

June 25–26, Schaumburg, IL

November 5–6, Philadelphia, PA 

In this two-day institute, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, participants will focus on understanding the reading and writing challenges of students who struggle with literacy learning and how to provide effective teaching to help those students using the LLI, K–2 lessons. Participants will be provided with a deep understanding of these systems and how they can best be implemented in the classroom. You’ll review excerpts of sample lessons and instructional routines used within the lessons, learn how to monitor students using technology, and gain insight into systematically observing reading and writing behaviors that inform teaching decisions. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Grades 3–12, “Intervening for Literacy Success with Intermediate, Middle, and Secondary Students,” developed by Fountas and Pinnell, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants

April 25–26, Burlingame, CA

June 27–28, Schaumburg, IL

November 7–8, Philadelphia, PA 

In this interactive two-day institute, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, participants will be provided with a deep understanding of the LLI, 3–12 system and how these lessons specifically meet the needs of struggling readers in those grades, and how to provide effective teaching within those lessons. Participants will learn how to code and analyze reading behaviors; gain scheduling and student grouping guidance; as well as how to use teacher language to support students’ sustained attention and comprehension of texts. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Fountas and Pinnell favor embracing the open door and becoming part of a learning community of colleagues—all of whom share common goals, take risks, and find the rewards of continuous professional growth. This takes time and problem solving but if achieved, it will have big payoff for students.

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/


March 9. 2018

FAQ Friday: Do the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Shared Reading Books Have Levels?

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

A: The books in the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Shared Reading Collection do not have levels. Levels are only used in guided reading instruction.

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.