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April 10. 2018

Teacher Tip: 5 Tips for Creating a Prekindergarten Classroom Library

A classroom library is an essential feature of a literacy-rich prekindergarten classroom. You may wish to incorporate these ideas as you design your library.

  • Place the classroom library among quieter work areas, such as the writing center and listening center. 
  • Create a comfortable environment for reading with rugs, pillows, and lamps. 
  • Display a wide assortment of picture books, including simple books with one or two lines of print per page, books from shared reading and interactive read-aloud, alphabet books, counting books, books about colors and shapes, pattern books, pop-up books, and informational books.
  • Label baskets or shelves with both pictures and words. Matching colored dots on books and baskets will help children return books to the correct place.
  • Provide stuffed animals ("listening buddies") that children can read to.
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.

April 6. 2018

FAQ Friday: Can Chapter Books Be Used for Guided Reading?

Q: Can chapter books be used for guided reading?

A: You can occasionally use a chapter book in guided reading, but we recommend selecting books that can be read within about a week. Teaching for comprehending is one reason that we recommend the selection of short texts for guided reading. The things students learn reading short texts can be applied to longer texts in independent reading. One of the advantages of using short texts is that students can experience a great variety of texts in a short time – as many as three to five a week! So, if you do occasionally use a chapter book to build stamina, plan to move quickly, having students read several chapters each day to finish in one or two weeks.

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

April 5. 2018

Ignite a Love of Words with the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System

Learning how words work doesn’t have to be a boring, mundane drill. There are ways to get your students excited and engaged in active thinking about language and how it works. Fountas and Pinnell have developed a lesson structure for phonics, spelling, and word study that uses a balance of direct teaching and discovery, which will encourage students to become active examiners and analyzers of print. 

Below is the structure that Fountas and Pinnell use in their Phonics, Spelling, and Words Study System (PWS), which provide well-planned, organized, direct teaching of language principles, but also contain an element of inquiry.

The Simple Framework

Each lesson in the PWS system follows a simple structure: teach, apply, and share. Ideally, these lessons would be embedded in a design for responsive literacy teaching that offers a combination of experiences, each of which contributes uniquely to students’ literacy development. Here’s what a lesson looks like:

TEACH whole-class lessons based on a principle related to phonics. Each principle is listed and explained in The Comprehensive Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study Guide, and each incorporates an element of inquiry. The inclusion of inquiry, where possible, rivets students’ attention to discovering something about language; it makes the lesson enjoyable, even exciting! Students become pattern seekers and word discoverers, which, hopefully, will be a lifelong habit.

APPLY through hands-on practice to apply the principle. Students can learn much more through these hands-on activities because they provide an experience in constructing their own knowledge. You can choose to have all the children do the Apply activity simultaneously, individually, or with a partner after the lesson, or they could rotate to a word-study center to engage in the activity during independent work time as they develop the ability to manage their own learning. 

SHARE, as students meet briefly in a whole-class meeting, to talk about the discoveries they made. This brief sharing time gives you a chance to assess the effectiveness of your lesson, return to the principle and summarize the learning, and link to reading and writing so students know how to use what they have learned.

A general goal in presenting any lesson is to pique students’ curiosity about words. We want them to seek patterns, notice similarities, take words apart and reassemble them, think about various chunks of words and what they mean, and more. When students perceive word study as word play, an important instructional goal has been achieved.

Fountas and Pinnell believe that Phonics instruction is most effective when used within a wide range of engaging literacy experiences accompanied by rigorous teaching. Download the PWS mini-sampler to learn more about the unique lesson structure for PWS, and how this system fits into a comprehensive design for classroom literacy instruction. 

~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/ 


April 4. 2018

Daily Lit Bit - 4/4/18

School shouldn't be a place where everything is leveled. It should resemble a library or a bookstore where books are categorized by author, by topic, by genre, anything that would interest readers. We want the readers not to see themselves as a level, but as people who are choosing books that interest them and that they want to read.

April 2. 2018

Teacher Tip: Have Children Match and Sort Letters

Children's first efforts at matching and sorting may be with letters of different shapes or colors, but they can soon learn to sort letters, match letters, find letters with features in common such as tails, circles, short sticks, tall sticks, tunnels, dots, capitals, and so on. Their time spent sorting letters in a myriad of ways is essential to learning how to look at print in the early levels. They need to develop fast, flexible recognition of letters. Begin with just a few letters rather than all twenty-six, and concentrate on the lowercase letters and get the children to develop speed in matching or sorting.

From Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

March 29. 2018

Ask Meli! March, 2018

Meli hopes that you are all having a great school year! She reads lots of letters every day and is so happy that you take the time to write to her.

Read on to see Meli's answers to questions from her friends in Paramus, NJ!

Q: Dear Meli, Do you get along with your chickens? What is your favorite dog? What is your favorite fish? What is your favorite sport? What is your favorite park? What is your favorite color apple? - Antonio

 Hi Antonio! Thank you for all of your questions! Since red is my favorite color, I would have to pick red apples! My favorite dog is a West Highland Terrier, since that's what I am!

Q: Dear Meli, Hi my name is Daniela. What is your favorite color? My favorite color is pink. Are you naughty sometimes? I am not naughty ever. Do you know what shh means? Do you have a brother or sister? I have a brother named Antonio, he is my twin. I hope you send me back. I love you Meli. Love Daniela

 Hi Daniela! I love your letter! My favorite color is red, like my ball! Sometimes when I play outside I chase birds and rabbits, even though I'm not supposed to. Keep reading! Woof! Meli

Q: Dear Meil. Hi my name is Lauren. I'm wondering where Meli sleeps? What do you eat? What's your favorite color? Do you have sisters or brothers?

 Hi Laruen! Thank you so much for your letter! My favorite food is cantaloupe, but I also love baby carrots, peaunut butter and dog cookies. I like to take naps in my dog bed and my favorite color is red. Keep reading! Woof! Meli

Q: Dear Meli. Hi! My name is Anika. We just finished reading the Problem with Meli. Do you fight with your parents? What is your favorite color? My favortie color is silver. Is Meli a teenager? What kind of dogs do you like? I like puppies. Puppies are cute. Do you like fruits and vegetables? I like Meli. Meli is so cute. 

 Hi Anika! I loved reading your letter! My favorite color is red, like my ball! I am 11 years old, so I'm not a teenager yet! I like fruits and vegetables. Cantaloupe and baby carrots are my favorite! Keep reading! Woof! Meli

Meli wants to know your favorite book character! You can let her know in your letters along with any more questions. And don’t miss the NEW Meli books in the Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Guided Reading Collection!

Please be sure to send your letters to Meli c/o The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801. And Tweet your questions to @FountasPinnell with #FPAskMeli.

See you soon!

~Meli and 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/