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™.

High-Quality Texts

In order to help students fall in love with reading, give them books they want to read. Students need access to a wide range of topics, themes, genres, and forms as they participate in all instructional contexts, which are all opportunities for observation and responsive teaching. FPC is made up of the very best, age-appropriate trade books, and the most powerful, authentic, original texts. The trade books used in Interactive Read-aloud, Independent Reading, and Book Clubs promote the joy of reading while expanding vocabulary and nurturing the ability to think, talk, and write about texts.  The beautifully crafted original texts in Guided Reading help to build each student’s ability to process increasingly challenging books with fluency and comprehension, while an exquisite collection of original texts (enlarged and small versions) make up Shared Reading, which is a highly supportive context in which you can nurture students' ability to construct meaning.

Observation and Assessment to Inform Teaching Decisions

Fountas and Pinnell describe responsive teaching as "those moment-to-moment decisions that you make as you observe and analyze your students' behaviors. It is the observation and analysis of the students' reading behaviors that informs your next teaching moves," (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). It's up to you to know the readers through observation. Those observations will inform you as to what books to select and what teaching decisions to make. Consider each lesson in FPC a blueprint of instructional options from which teachers select to best support each learner in the classroom.  These materials support your ability to gather student data, analyze it, and use it to set up a successful context within which you can teach successfully. 

Common Teacher Language

“Language weaves a community together, and it is developed through communication and problem solving,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). Responsive teaching requires your continual attention and reflection on your students' observable behaviors and the effects of your teaching decisions on their learning. One important element is the facilitative language you use to respond to the learner. Fountas and Pinnell believe strongly that teacher language is all-important in responsive teaching. Teacher statements, prompts, and questions should be as clear and precise as possible. The tools and materials in FPC are developed in a way that will help you hone your language until it becomes internalized and you don't need to refer to the tools anymore. 

"The responsive teacher observes readers and writers very carefully, weaving a valuable set of understandings about each. Then, in a continuously evolving process, he tailors his precise responses to the readers’ strengths and needs," (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Keep an eye out for release dates and more information on Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ here to learn how you can start supporting RESPONSIVE TEACHING in your classroom.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Team

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

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