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December 5. 2017

Teacher Tip: Organizing Your Classroom for Guided Reading

Your guided reading area is best located in an area of the classroom that accommodates a table large enough to seat 4-6 children and yourself. A kidney-shaped table is ideal. Arrange the table so you sit facing the children and classroom, allowing you to monitor the children working in independent work areas. Ideally the lessons and books are arranged by level on shelves behind your small-group table, allowing you to easily retrieve and return instructional materials.

From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

November 28. 2017

Teacher Tip: Organizing Your Classroom for Interactive Read-Aloud

Interactive read-aloud takes place in the whole-class meeting area of your classroom. It is ideal to have a bright rug or natural barriers, such as bookshelves, to mark the area. Children sit on the floor, so arrange your chair and an easel to give all children an unobstructed view. As you finish with a book, you can move it to a bin in the classroom library or display it on the easel or bookshelves, offering children the opportunity to choose to read it independently. Keep interactive read-aloud lessons, books, and supplies in your resource area for easy access.

From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

November 21. 2017

Teacher Tip: Organizing Your Classroom for Shared Reading

As you arrange your classroom for shared reading, be sure to accommodate children so that every child can see the big book or chart. Store texts and tools nearby for easy access.

Texts:

  • large print books
  • projected texts
  • shared/interactive writing texts
  • small copies of large texts

Tools:

  • easel
  • plain pointer
  • Wikki Stix®
  • word cards
  • highlighter tape
  • magnetic letters
  • whiteboard
  • pocket chart
  • word masks of various sizes
  • markers
  • correction tape and sticky notes
  • computer and screen, or document camera, to project an image
From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

November 14. 2017

Teacher Tip: Organizing Your Classroom for Independent Reading

Consider the following suggestions as you arrange your classroom for independent reading:

Choose a place in your classroom to create a classroom library. Shelves that accommodate book bins are ideal, with bins organized by genre topic, author, and interest for easy access and browsing by children. Organize the conferring cards in your resource area, so that you can quickly pull the appropriate cards to support your conferences with readers.

From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

November 6. 2017

Teacher Tip: How to Engage Parents in Fountas & Pinnell Classroom

There are many opportunities throughout Fountas & Pinnell Classroom to engage parents and caregivers. For example, parents and caregivers can support their children at home by:

  • Listening to the books their children bring home to read
  • Reading books aloud to their children
  • Talking about books together
  • Going to the library
  • Encouraging their children to write for authentic purposes (such as a grocery list, a letter, or directions)
  • Singing songs together
  • Reciting nursery rhymes or poetry together
  • Talking with their children about a variety of topics
  • Encouraging their children to play outside every day
  • Encouraging play in which their children use imagination.

You may also want to invite parents and caregivers into the classroom throughout the year for special literacy occasions, such as:

  • Listening to their children participate in Reader's Theater
  • A reading celebration in which parents and caregivers listen to their children read or they read to their children
  • Watching a puppet show or simple lay the children have written and perform
  • Creating a Literacy Museum where children dress up as a character from a book and share the book with their parent or caregiver.
As you actively and creatively engage parents and caregivers in the literacy lives of their children, each child and family knows that their traditions and cultures are honored and the collaborative partnership between home and school is valued. 

From Fountas & Pinnell Classroom System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2018 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

October 31. 2017

Teacher Tip: What To Do When A Student Has Read All of the Benchmark Assessment System Books

In order to get an accurate assessment using the Benchmark Assessment System and obtain observable evidence of what a student can process and understand independently it's important that the student not have already read any of the books. Sometimes, however, you might have students who seem to have "slid" back a level, perhaps over the summer or holidays. So what do you do when your students have already read the books? Here are some steps to consider: 
  • It is critical to look at The Literacy Continuum and determine what strategies need to be taught to a student who is not progressing beyond a specific level. Start there, and use other forms instruction, e.g., guided reading, to assess the student by observing what he or she specifically needs to help them process texts.
  • You can also take a quick and informal assessment by having the student read aloud from one or two other leveled books from your classroom library. Assess the percentage of words read accurately and note specific errors (substitutions, omissions, insertions). You will have an assessment of accuracy and also insights into the kind of information the child is using when errors are made (for example, words that look like other words, or words that are inaccurate but make sense). Errors can sometimes illustrate a child’s strengths and give you insights into how to help him or her.
  • When following the oral reading, involve the child in a conversation that will help you know what he or she understood from the text. You can ask several questions but the assessment should not feel like an interrogation. You could try to ask questions similar to the Benchmark Assessment System prompts.
  • If the level of the text is too difficult, move down the levels until you find something the child can read at instructional level with good understanding.
When you are simply trying to teach to the level, without fine tuning their instruction based on the individual student needs, we end up with students not progressing.
October 24. 2017

Teacher Tip: Help Students Make Good Independent Reading Choices

Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading. 

Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
Give the book a good chance.

Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2013 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

October 17. 2017

Teacher Tip: Nurture Young Learners’ Curiosity through Inquiry

All children need the opportunity for play and inquiry. A rich and joyful early literacy environment in which reading, writing, and talking are part of play, often become play. We must remember that children, especially young children, learn through play. Play enhances language and literacy learning. When your teaching is inquiry-oriented, you enable young children to learn how to learn, investigate and discover new understandings, and pose wonderings about the possibilities.
 
With two kinds of inquiry, information seeking and wondering, children are immersed in constructive learning that results in an exciting, meaningful expansion of knowledge that continues through life. Fountas and Pinnell discuss the inquiry process in depth in their book, Literacy Beginnings.
 
Try these four simple steps of the inquiry process to guide your teaching and propel literacy learning:
1. Playful Exploration (Notice, Wonder)
2. Define Questions (Plan for Observing)
3. Find Out (Investigate, Explore)
4. Share Learning (Discuss, Draw Conclusions)

October 10. 2017

Teacher Tip: Selecting Guided Reading Texts for Intermediate/Middle-Level Readers

For all students from the first years of school to upper elementary and middle school, text selection is very important. We recommend short texts for guided reading even at intermediate and middle-grade levels. The things students learn reading short texts can be applied to longer texts in independent reading. Here are some other considerations for selecting texts for intermediate/middle-level readers:
  • Select nonfiction texts with compelling topics and stories that will engage readers.
  • Select texts that have excellent examples of high-quality writing in the genre.
  • Examine the illustrations to assure that nonfiction texts include complex graphics that help readers learn how to synthesize information from them and integrate it with the body of the text.
  • Assure that fiction texts have high quality illustrations (where applicable) that enhance the meaning of the text and communicate the mood.
  • Assure that the range of texts are accurate, culturally sensitive, and reflect the diversity of our world.
  • Select texts that have deeper messages so that students can reach out for them.

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.

September 26. 2017

8 Steps for Teaching Routines and Transitions

At the beginning of the year, put children in "the big picture" by taking a tour of the room. Introduce children to their "home" seat at a table and to the different areas of the classroom. Play a game that involves coming to the meeting area, sitting on the rug, and going quickly and quietly back to the home seat. You will not use all the centers (even the major ones) right away. Begin with large-group experiences and introduce materials and work areas one at a time. Your goal is self-initiated movement so children develop and practice self-regulation as they transition from one center to the next. You may find it helpful to use these steps:

  1. Talk about and demonstrate the routine yourself.
  2. Have one or two children demonstrate and affirm their efforts. If necessary, repeat this process with more students.
  3. If everyone can use a center simultaneously (for example, the classroom library) have all students at once demonstrate the routine. For example, browsing boxes might mean reading three books; listening center may mean listen to one book and write or draw about it in your reader's notebook; poetry notebook might mean read the poem, glue it in your poetry notebook, illustrate it, and read it to a partner. Post directions for the students at each location for their reference. Watch and describe what they are doing to affirm their efforts. If the center is small, have each small group start working there and observe them closely affirming their efforts the first time. Teach them how to transition to the next center.
  4. Introduce the basic centers first - the ones you will be using almost every day.
  5. Observe children in the center until you are comfortable that they are consistently using the are independently and are being respectful of others and of the materials. (This may take only a short time.) If some children are inexperienced or find self-regulation challenging, reteach. Children will soon learn to help each other achieve self-regulation.
  6. Build in extra support for students who find it difficult to work independently (for example, a check-in between groups).
  7. Then work on helping students learn how to clean up and organize the materials at the center before transitioning or moving on to the next center. Demonstrate explicitly or have a few students demonstrate for the class what is needed for each type of center.
  8. Encourage children to self-evaluate and problem-solve at the end of the independent work period.

Every time you introduce a new task, or if you decide to change the task in a center, help children make the transition. Again, demonstrate and have children act out the change. Don't assume that telling is enough. After a time, children learn how to make such transitions and they will take on new tasks more quickly and with independence so you can work with guided reading groups without interruption.

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.