Blog

August 29. 2016

Making Your Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) Conferences Efficient and Informative

This is the time of year for getting to know each of your new students as unique individuals in your classroom community. Your BAS conference is a wonderful opportunity to spend a short time with each child to get a big payoff.

Think about the following tips as they may help you establish more efficient and informative BAS conferences with your students.

Making a Schedule
It’s a good idea to make a schedule for conducting your assessments. Be proactive. For example, plan to have two or three assessment conferences a day and complete all the assessments within two to three weeks. Don’t let the assessments drag out for weeks.

Finding Time
Consider partnering up with a grade-level colleague so you can release each other to administer an assessment or two. For example, take turns reading aloud to both classes or taking both groups out for recess time. Think together about other opportunities that could enable both groups of students to engage in meaningful work together while you gain time for assessment conferences.

Conducting the Assessment Conference Efficiently
A key to an efficient conference is being organized, knowing where to begin the assessment and moving the assessment along at a good pace. When you start with a text that is easy, but not too easy for the student to read, the next book will likely be an instructional level. The third book read will likely be hard. As soon as the data shows the text is hard, you stop the assessment.
Think about how to organize yourself for an efficient administration. Organize the books by level in a pile. If you are using the iPad application, you will be paperless. If you are using paper, make several copies of each Recording Form, so you can quickly pull the form you need. Have your F&P Calculator/Stopwatch ready.
Use last year’s reading information to know where to start. Make a list of start levels for each student. You might also talk a minute with the student about what books he read over the summer to get a level indicator. In any case, you can talk to last year’s teacher.

Move the conference along at a good pace. Be sure to read all the books before you begin. Collect one book while handing over the next. The more assessments you give, the more familiar you will be with the prompts and you can move along at a good pace.

Learning More
The more you administer the BAS, the more efficient you will become. If the students read fluently, the assessment will be shorter. The goal is for the student to read one easy book with fluency, one instructional level book with fluency, and only part of one book that is hard.

Plan ahead for an efficient administration. And share tips for efficiency with your colleagues.

Our best to you as you start a new year.

-Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell.

August 15. 2016

The Art and Science of Responsive Literacy Teaching


by Irene Fountas

What really matters for each child in his journey of reading development is your response to his attempts to process a text. When you respond precisely to the reader’s observable behaviors, you can meet the child where he is and lead him forward.

Clay helped us understand that when we notice and build on a reader’s strengths instead of targeting deficits, our teaching can be highly effective in building the student’s agency and independence. Each child’s response is often not simply right or wrong but “partially correct” (Clay, 300-301).  For example when a child reads “stairs” for “steps,” he made a meaningful attempt that fits the syntax and has letters that look similar. It is too simplistic to say it is wrong.

Think about the reader’s logic each time you notice a reading error. Think about what information the child used to make the attempt and how you can expand what the child can do to make sure the attempt makes sense, sounds right and looks right. For example, use language like the following:
•    “That makes sense, but does it look right?”
•    “That looks right but does it make sense?”
•    “You are almost right. Check the middle.”

Gay and I have explored the effects of teacher language in facilitating the reader’s construction of problem-solving behaviors in working through a text. The teacher’s “facilitative language” promotes the reader’s thinking. As a reading teacher, we encourage you to eliminate judgmental comments like, “nice work” or “good job” and replace the comments with language that confirms the reader’s precise reading behaviors and enable him to develop new ways of thinking.

When you teach in this way, every time a child reads a book, you have the opportunity to support their construction of an effective literacy processing system. Instead of teaching your student “how to read this book,” your student will learn “how to read.” We refer to this as “generative” reading power.

How do these ideas make you think about your moment-to-moment responses to readers within the act of teaching?  We encourage you to continue the conversation  with your colleagues about the language you can use to support “generative learning” in your classroom/school.


This blog first appeared on the Lesley University Center for Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative blog. To read more visit https://lesleyuniversitycrrlc.wordpress.com/

For more information about responsive teaching from Fountas and Pinnell:

Explore the NEW Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades www.fountasandpinnell.com/professionalbooks/

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Community for collaborative conversation https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/


References:
Clay, Marie, M. (1991). Becoming Literate: The Construction of Inner Control. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Fountas, I.C. & Pinnell, G.S. (2017). Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Fountas, I.C. & Pinnell, G.S. (2012). Prompting Guide Part 1 for Oral Reading and Early Writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.