search navigation
March 14. 2017

Guidelines for Selecting Books for Interactive Read-Aloud: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Sometimes teachers are tempted simply to pick up a handy book and read it, and it is certainly true that students can enjoy and benefit from any wonderful book. But if you want to get the most instructional power from interactive read-aloud, it is important to plan for teaching in a more precise way. Here are some guidelines for selecting books for interactive read-aloud.

  • Look for texts that you know your students will love (funny, exciting, connected to their experiences, able to extend their thinking.)
  • Select texts appropriate to the age and interests of your students.
  • Select texts that are of high quality (award winners, excellent authors, high-quality illustrations).
  • Plan selections so that you present a variety of cultures; help students see things from different perspectives.
  • Choose texts that help students understand how people have responded to life's challenges.
  • Consider books on the significant issues in the age group--peer pressure, friendship, families, honesty, racism, competition.
  • Especially for younger readers, select texts that help them enjoy language--rhythm, rhyme, repetition.
  • Select different versions of the same story to help students make comparisons.
  • Evaluate the texts to be sure the ideas and concepts can be understood by your students.
  • Plan selections that appeal to both boys and girls.
  • Mix and connect fiction and nonfiction.
  • Repeat some texts that have been loved by former students.
  • Vary genres so that students listen to many different kinds of texts--articles, poems, fiction, informational texts.
  • Select informational texts, even if they are long; you can read some interesting parts aloud and leave the books for students to peruse on their own.
  • Choose texts that will expand your students' knowledge of others' lives and empathy.
  • Choose texts that will help students reflect on their own lives.
  • Select texts that you love and tell students about them.
  • Select texts that build on one another in various ways (sequels, themes, authors, illustrators, topics, settings, structure).
  • Link selections in ways that will help students learn something about how texts work.
  • Select books that provide good foundations for minilessons in reading and writing.
  • Consider the curriculum demands of your district; for example, link texts with social studies, science, or the cor literature program.
  • Select several texts that help listeners learn from an author's style or craft.
  • Select texts that offer artistic appreciation.
  • Select fiction and nonfiction texts on the same general topics.
  • Consider "text sets" that are connected in various ways--theme, structure, time period, issues, series, author illustrator, and genre.
Adapted from Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2006 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.


March 8. 2017

Teach the Child, Not the Program with RESPONSIVE TEACHING


Fountas and Pinnell believe that responsive teaching is teaching based on the learner and the teacher’s knowledge of the learner rather than simply knowing and using a program. Teacher expertise comes from the close observation of the learners, noticing an area that needs instruction, and being able to teach in the moment. Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC) relies upon teacher expertise to be successful just as much as good teaching needs the support of high-quality materials. Fountas and Pinnell have created this system of materials and resources that allows teachers to operationalize the vision and goals of responsive teaching. Here are some of the ways responsive teaching is supported and honored in Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™. More...


March 7. 2017

Ten Suggestions for Extending the Meaning of Texts

Extending the meaning of a text involves representing or reflecting on the text students have just read in a guided reading lesson in some way, which, in turn, extends thinking. Students will just have processed a more challenging text, which means they are in an optimal position to extend their understanding. Here are ten suggestions for extending the meaning of texts:

1. Discuss the book in pairs or threesomes.

2. Diagram the internal organizational structures in texts--compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, sequence, question/answer, story map.

3. Prepare graphic organizers (a character web or a timeline, for example) to reveal the author's craft.

4. Comment on the text in interactive or shared writing.

5. Describe characters, summarize sections of the text, or make a list of key ideas in interactive or shared writing.

6. Respond with "quick writes" that can be shared later.

7. Respond with "quick sketches" that support thinking and can be used as a basis for more talk or writing.

8. Present a readers' theater piece using portions of the text.

9. Write a poem about the book.

10. Collect favorite quotes from the text and tell why they chose them.

Because you are always working with texts, these suggestions have endless variations. Extending the meaning may also depend on whether the text is fiction or nonfiction. You will not want to engage your students in tasks after reading unless you have evidence that they need to explore the meaning further or can benefit from the activity as they apply strategies to further reading.

Adapted from Teaching for Comprehending and Fluency by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2006 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.