January 13. 2017

The Importance of Creating a Community of Learners

Would you describe your school's culture as being warm and supportive, but without attention to rigorous learning? Or is it run like a tight ship in an attempt to create rigorous learning, but lacks warmth? Fountas and Pinnell believe that in order to build an inclusive, respectful, and supportive social community where people collaborate with and help each other, you can't have one scenario without the other. One of the goals of the second edition of Guided Reading is to get teachers to not only treat the classroom as a place to learn to read, write, and expand language skills, but to create a community of learners. Here are some ways to start building your community!

Provide Thought-Provoking Books

The classroom is where students spend most of their lives. It's important to create an environment that helps them think deeply about the world, themselves, and how they fit into the world as global citizens. A great way to open up these channels of thinking is through books! Give them high-quality books that help them think about important ideas and issues, and about developing empathy for others. 

Think About Classroom Management 

In Guided Reading, 2e, Fountas and Pinnell describe the behavioral and emotional expectations of a student from entry to middle school; the traits you want to see in a successful student. These include, social interaction, empathy, sense of community, emotional well-being, and self-regulation. Guided Reading, 2e shows you ways to provide numerous opportunities for students to learn these traits throughout the school day, from grade to grade, starting with the classroom. Your classroom should be a peaceful environment and reflect a climate of acceptance in which you can communicate to your students that you are interested in what they have to say. But you should also think about the physical space, as well as predictability, empathy and kindness, inquiry, and more. “Your classroom is a place where students learn how to read, write, and expand all of their language skills, but it is much more. It is a laboratory where they learn how to be confident, self-determined, kind, and democratic,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Have a Design for Literacy Education

Creating the ideal literacy classroom environment where your students are always thinking, talking, and reading about the world can be a daunting task. You want to make adequate time for designing a landscape for language and literacy learning, but how? Where do you start? Fountas and Pinnell know from personal experience, and from talking to teachers that there are many constraints—both physical and financial—to creating this ideal environment, but it is possible. In Guided Reading, 2e, Fountas and Pinnell provide creative ways to take this vision of a literacy classroom into an actual design, as well as provide advice on how to create this classroom on a budget.  "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," (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). 

Building a literacy community in your classroom takes a lot of thought and effort, but the payoff is worth it. "In a sense, the classroom is a sheltered environment within a noisy world where everything interferes with high-level intellectual discourse and time for reading and writing. But in these short years students have a chance to live a literate life that expands their empathy, curiosity, and competencies. Literacy is their job," (Fountas and Pinnell, 2017). 

~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

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January 10. 2017

Expand Your Guided Reading Teaching Moves with Self-Reflection: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell

Guided reading is not a static concept; the materials, teacher decisions, and interactive framework change over time as students grow in knowledge, skill, and independence, and teachers become more experienced. Fountas and Pinnell believe that teacher expertise and the professional development that supports it is the only way to raise student achievement. High-quality, highly effective implementation of guided reading involves a process of self-reflection.

 

Each time you work with a small group of students, you can learn a little more and hone your teaching skills. For example, in guided reading lessons, the goal is to teach the reader, not the text.

 

Self-reflect: Think about how your language interactions with readers support the ability of each student to initiate problem-solving actions. Ask yourself: How does my language support pass control to the reader? What have I taught the readers how to do today that they will be able to do with other texts? Remember, reflective teaching is rewarding because you are learning from teaching.

 

To read more about guided reading, and to ponder the challenges and opportunities that come from its implementation, pick up a copy of the NEW Guided Reading, Second Edition


You can also sign up for a FREE LIVE Webinar with Fountas and Pinnell on January 11 at 4:00 p.m. where the focus will be on teaching for comprehension across guided reading lessons. And don't forget to join us the next night on January 12 at 8:00 p.m. for a LIVE Twitter Chat with Fountas and Pinnell using #FPLiteracy to discuss more on Guided Reading!


Excerpted and adapted from "Guided Reading: The Romance and the Reality published in Reading Teacher," (Dec/Jan 2012)