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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.

February 28. 2017

Use Interactive Writing as an Opportunity for Children to Learn About Letters: A Teacher Tip from Fountas & Pinnell

Early experiences in interactive writing offer kindergarten children an opportunity to learn about letters. At the same time, even though that have very limited knowledge of literacy, they are participating in the construction of a meaningful text. Working with with letters within a known text is a more powerful learning experience than simply working with a letter in isolation. Children are highly engaged because they see that letters have a purpose. And, when they read and write, they must recognize letters that are embedded in words that are embedded in sentences.

During interactive writing, you can draw children's attention to letters and help them learn how to look at them by using the following teaching directives:

  • Have the children say the name of the letter (m).
  • Talk about the features of the letters (a stick and two humps).
  • Demonstrate the motions necessary to make the letter.
  • Talk about the motions while making them (pull down, over and down, over and down).
  • Have the children trace the letter in the air on the floor, talking aloud about the motions while making them.
  • Show the children how to check the letter against a model (alphabet chart or name chart).
  • Show the children how to make connections between the letter and known words, particularly names.
Adapted from Interactive Writing: How Language & Literacy Come Together, K-2 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2000 by Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.