Students learn to write by writing. While the names Fountas and Pinnell have become synonymous with reading instruction, they believe that both reading and writing are what make up a comprehensive literacy design. Opportunities for students to write within and outside of the context of reading are woven throughout their new system, Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ (FPC). Read on to learn how.
Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ is made up of seven instructional contexts: interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, book clubs, independent reading, phonics, spelling, and word study, and reading minilessons. Below is a breakdown of how writing is incorporated into each of those contexts.
Within each FPC Interactive Read-Aloud lesson there is a section called Respond to the Text. Here, you can give students an opportunity to share their thinking about the text you have just read through shared writing, interactive writing, or independent writing.
There are four types of minilessons within The Reading Minilessons Book—Management, Literary Analysis, Strategies and Skills, and Writing About Reading. The Writing About Reading minilessons are concise, explicit lessons with a powerful application in building students’ independent reading competencies. The Writing About Reading minilessons introduce the reader’s notebook and help students use this important tool for reflecting on their reading and documenting their reading life for the year. Also, within the other types of reading minilessons, there are optional suggestions for extending the learning of the minilesson over time or in other contexts in an optional section called, Extend the Lesson. Finally, the last page of many of the umbrellas there is a section called Link to Writing where students are offered suggestions for writing/drawing about reading in a reader’s notebook.
Each lesson in the FPC Shared Reading Collection has a section called Respond to the Text. This is where you can expand students’ thinking about the reading with suggestions that include art activities, drama, research, and shared or interactive writing.
After conferring with a student about the book he is reading and learning his thoughts on the text, you may want to encourage him to expand his thinking about the book through writing or drawing. The Conferring Cards that accompany each title within the FPC Independent Reading Collection has Writing About Reading Prompts. You can choose or modify these prompts that would best support and extend the student’s understanding of the text.
Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study
Fountas and Pinnell believe that explicit phonics instruction should be both out of text (outside of reading instruction) and in text (embedded within reading instruction). Both can be systematic; both can be explicit; both are essential. The lessons within the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study System provide explicit phonics instruction out of text, but each lesson provides suggestions for extending the learning through explicit instruction in text. For example, they include specific suggestions to use in interactive read-aloud, shared reading, guided reading, modeled writing, shared writing, interactive writing, and independent reading and writing.
Each lesson in the FPC Guided Reading Collection has an optional Writing About Reading section. This section offers suggestions for students to reflect and expand their thinking on the book they are reading, through shared, interactive, and independent writing activities. Choose topics that evoke the most interest and conversation.
Occasionally teachers may want to encourage students to expand their thinking about a book they have just read through writing in their reader’s notebooks. Each Discussion Card in the FPC Book Club Collection provides suggested topics that the teacher can give students to reflect and expand on through writing, after the discussion.
By connecting learning across these instructional contexts, you ensure that students make connections to the texts that they're reading and writing about and find authentic application for their learning. When students spend their time thinking, reading, writing, and talking every day, they get a message about what is valued in your classroom and they begin to develop their own values. The act/process of reading and the reader's response through talk and writing are powerful tools for high-impact teaching.