search navigation
March 27. 2018

Teacher Tip: Support English Language Learners Through Multiple Modes of Communication

To support English language learners, you will not want to depend solely on oral language, especially with children who have newly arrived from another country and have very limited understanding of English. Think what it is like to listen to a string of directions and remember them; then think what it would be like to listen to it in a language that you are only beginning to learn. Use other means of communication:

  • Act it out.
  • Demonstrate explicitly what you want students to do.
  • If it's complicated, have them "walk through it," acting out what they will do (or have a few students demonstrate while others watch).
  • Seek the support of another student who also speaks the student's primary language (if possible).
  • Use pictures and symbols.
  • Provide it in simple writing accompanied by illustrations if necessary.
  • If at all possible, learn some key words in the child's language.

From When Readers Struggle: Teaching That Works by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2009 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

March 23. 2018

Writing Opportunities Within Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™

Students learn to write by writing. While the names Fountas and Pinnell have become synonymous with reading instruction, they believe that both reading and writing are what make up a comprehensive literacy design. Opportunities for students to write within and outside of the context of reading are woven throughout their new system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC). Read on to learn how.

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom is made up of seven instructional contexts: interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, book clubs, independent reading, phonics, spelling, and word study, and reading minilessons. Below is a breakdown of how writing is incorporated into each of those contexts.

Interactive Read-Aloud

Within each FPC Interactive Read-Aloud lesson there is a section called Respond to the Text. Here, you can give students an opportunity to share their thinking about the text you have just read through shared writing, interactive writing, or independent writing. Reading Minilessons There are four types of minilessons within The Reading Minilessons Book—Management, Literary Analysis, Strategies and Skills, and Writing About Reading. The Writing About Reading minilessons are concise, explicit lessons with a powerful application in building students’ independent reading competencies. The Writing About Reading minilessons introduce the reader’s notebook and help students use this important tool for reflecting on their reading and documenting their reading life for the year. Also, within the other types of reading minilessons, there are optional suggestions for extending the learning of the minilesson over time or in other contexts in an optional section called, Extend the Lesson. Finally, the last page of many of the umbrellas there is a section called Link to Writing where students are offered suggestions for writing/drawing about reading in a reader’s notebook.

Shared Reading

Each lesson in the FPC Shared Reading Collection has a section called Respond to the Text. This is where you can expand students’ thinking about the reading with suggestions that include art activities, drama, research, and shared or interactive writing.

Independent Reading

After conferring with a student about the book he is reading and learning his thoughts on the text, you may want to encourage him to expand his thinking about the book through writing or drawing. The Conferring Cards that accompany each title within the FPC Independent Reading Collection has Writing About Reading Prompts. You can choose or modify these prompts that would best support and extend the student’s understanding of the text.

Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study

Fountas and Pinnell believe that explicit phonics instruction should be both out of text (outside of reading instruction) and in text (embedded within reading instruction). Both can be systematic; both can be explicit; both are essential. The lessons within the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System provide explicit phonics instruction out of text, but each lesson provides suggestions for extending the learning through explicit instruction in text. For example, they include specific suggestions to use in interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, modeled writing, shared writing, interactive writing, and independent reading and writing.

Guided Reading

Each lesson in the FPC Guided Reading Collection has an optional Writing About Reading section. This section offers suggestions for students to reflect and expand their thinking on the book they are reading, through shared, interactive, and independent writing activities. Choose topics that evoke the most interest and conversation.

Book Clubs

Occasionally teachers may want to encourage students to expand their thinking about a book they have just read through writing in their reader’s notebooks. Each Discussion Card in the FPC Book Club Collection provides suggested topics that the teacher can give students to reflect and expand on through writing, after the discussion.

By connecting learning across these instructional contexts, you ensure that students make connections to the texts that they're reading and writing about and find authentic application for their learning. When students spend their time thinking, reading, writing, and talking every day, they get a message about what is valued in your classroom and they begin to develop their own values. The act/process of reading and the reader's response through talk and writing are powerful tools for high-impact teaching.

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 23. 2018

FAQ Friday: Which LLI System Should I Use?

Q: Which Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) should I use?

A: There are seven systems that make up LLI and span grades K through 12.

Primary Systems:

  • Orange System: levels A through E
  • Green System: levels A through K
  • Blue System: levels C through N

Intermediate Systems:

  • Red System: levels L through Q
  • Gold System: levels O through T

Middle/High School Systems:

  • Purple System: levels R through W
  • Teal System: level U through Z

There are specific Lesson Guides for each LLI System, and the systems are coordinated with the grade levels at which they will most likely be used; however, educators may make other decisions as they work to match the program to the needs of particular readers. The systems overlap in levels, but books and lessons for each system are unique, with no overlap of titles or lessons.

The LLI books have been written specifically for the intervention system. Written by children's authors and illustrated by high-quality artists, they are designed to provide engaging, age-appropriate material while at the same time offering increasingly sophisticated learning opportunities so that students can build a reading process over time.

March 20. 2018

Teacher Tip: 6 Ways to Save Time During the Assessment Conference

To save time during the assessment conference, consider the following suggestions:

  1. Starting Point. Knowing where to start will save the student from having to read numerous texts. Use last year's reading records to get an indication of where to start, or what will be an independent text for the student. Then have in mind the next text, an instructional text, for the student.
  2. Organized Materials. Keep you Benchmark Assessment books and Recording Forms well organized in a hanging file next to you so you can "hit the ground running."
  3. Familiarity with Books. When you know the Benchmark Assessment books and key understandings well, you can move the comprehension conversation along briskly.
  4. Fluency. If your readers are fluent, the reading will take less time.
  5. Hard Text. As soon as a student's text reading shows the number of errors indicative of hard text, discontinue the reading. There is no need for the student to struggle through the whole text.
  6. Comprehension Conversation. If the text is hard (based on accuracy), do not have the comprehension conversation.

From the BAS Assessment Guide, 3rd Edition by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

March 16. 2018

FAQ Friday: How Can I Ensure That I Am Conducting the Benchmark Assessment in a Standardized Manner?

Q: How can I ensure that I am conducting the Benchmark Assessment in a standardized manner?

A: The precise steps of the assessment conference are described in the Assessment Guides and are systematically presented on the Recording Form for each book. Remember to keep your own language spare and to avoid teaching or leading the student to answers. The introduction to each Benchmark Assessment book is standardized and printed on the cover as well as on the Recording Form. The steps for administration, scoring, and analysis are all standardized and explained in detail in the Assessment Guides. In addition, the tools supporting the assessment, such as the F&P Calculator/ Stopwatch, the Coding and Scoring at-a-Glance chart, and the comprehension conversation rubrics, provide an easy way to maintain consistency across assessments and help you internalize the steps in the process. Furthermore, the Professional Development Videos provide clear examples and plenty of practice opportunities for developing precision and consistency throughout assessment conferences.