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May 14. 2018

Teacher Tip: How to Support English Learners in Reading Minilessons

English learners thrive in a predictable and organized classroom – one in which they know what to do and hear consistent messages every day. Management minilessons help create and reinforce a predictable learning environment in which English learners can focus attention on expanding language, reading, and writing in a safe environment.

From The Literacy Quick Guide: A Reference Tool for Responsive Literacy Teaching by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

May 11. 2018

FAQ Friday: How Long Does it Take to Administer the Benchmark Assessment to a Student?

Q: How long does it take to administer the Benchmark Assessment to a student?

A: At the earliest levels, a full assessment conference may take 20–30 minutes. At the upper levels, where the texts are longer and the conversations more substantive, it may take 30-40 minutes, but as you gain experience, the time will be shorter. Remember that the longer books have a stopping point for oral reading. Also, fluency makes a difference. In this guide, we make several suggestions for how to make efficient use of your time. Remember that each student has had a chance for one-on-one time reading and talking with the teacher.

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

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 7. 2018

Teacher Tip: How to Get Readers to Expand Their Thinking in a Reader's Notebook

A reader's notebook can be a useful tool for readers to collect their thinking and record it in a variety of genres and forms. Consider beginning with one thoughtful letter a week or every other week between you and your students. Here are some suggestions and ideas to help you react to, reinforce, and expand a reader’s thinking:

  • Notice the questions a reader asks and respond to each one. 
  • As you read the letter, think about what the writer is communicating to you and react as you read. Then pick up your pen and share your reactions. 
  • Share the thinking the writer brings out in you. How are you personally connecting with the reader’s thoughts? 
  • Confirm the reader’s good thinking and inquire genuinely about what you don’t understand. 
  • Think about the type of text a student is reading. How can you use your knowledge of genre characteristics to expand the reader’s understanding? Nudge the reader to think about these characteristics. 
  • After reading a student letter, review the Systems of Strategic Actions. Notice what aspects the reader is attending to and what aspects would expand the reader’s thinking about the text. Make comments that will help the reader think in new ways.
From The Literacy Quick Guide: A Reference Tool for Responsive Literacy Teaching by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.
May 7. 2018

Daily Lit Bit - 5/7/18

Effective teaching is responsive to the learners. It means that you are able to notice the strengths of individuals and build on their competencies. Instead of expecting them to be where you are, you have to bring the teaching to where they are.

May 4. 2018

FAQ Friday: Unpacking the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System

Q: How do I organize the materials in the new Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System?

A: View this UNPACKING Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System document for a step-by-step guide on how to organize the materials that come in the system. 

<<To see more FAQs or get answers to other questions from a trained consultant, please visit the Discussion Board!>>

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/