2005

November Question #1

Randi Wiebe
RSP Teacher

Dear Irene,

I was wondering if there are standards for the Leveled Readers. How do I find them? I was hoping they would be standards-based.

Thank you,
Randi

Answer

Dear Randi,

The books will align themselves well with the reading standards of any state. They include attention to vocabulary, decoding, fluency, and comprehension.

Best,
Irene


November Question #2

Vicki
K–12

What are the protocols for Guided Reading for grades 6–8? Please may I have a step-by-step protocol? I am hearing conflicting information. I would like to be sure.

Thank you.

Answer

Dear Vicki,

I don't understand what you mean by protocol. Please explain. If you mean what are the steps of the lesson, each book has a slim guide that outlines the steps.

Best,
Irene


November Question #3

Celeste Horner
Grade 1 Teacher

I am a new teacher looking to purchase a set of Leveled Readers that would complement my reading program. I want something for Guided Reading besides decodable books. What would be a good first set to buy? I have all levels of readers in my class.

Answer

Dear Celeste,

You might be interested in the Grade 1 collection, as it includes a variety of levels.

Best,
Irene


October Question #1

Melissa Schaub-Diaz
Asst. Principal Curriculum & Instruction

Dear Irene,

We are looking for guidance regarding the use of a text over time when working in a Guided Reading group. Some teachers use a particular text over the course of a week (3 days) to provide instruction of needed reading strategies, comprehension strategies, word study, literary elements, etc. (not incorporating all of these for each text, rather only a few of them as determined by what the students need and what the book might offer). Other teachers change the book for each Guided Reading session. As with all things, balance is probably the answer. If you could comment on your recommendations, findings or thoughts, that would be HIGHLY appreciated!!!

Thanks so much,
Melissa Schaub-Diaz

Answer

Dear Melissa,

Each time a reader processes a new text, he has the opportunity to learn more about the reading process. I suggest that you use a new text for each lesson so the reader can learn something new on each new text. The text should offer a little challenge so you can teach the readers how to do something new that they will be able to apply to other texts. You would not want to stay three days on the same piece of text, as it will not afford the readers a chance to try out what they learned the day before on a new text.

Best to you in your work,
Irene


October Question #2

Dorothy Wernsman
4th grade Parent

My child has a problem with fluency. How can I easily find books at the correct reading level to have her practice at home? The first week of school the teacher sent a list of books home that went with the first lesson and we got those from the library and read each one. The teacher does not seem to be able to provide a list like this with each lesson. Why do you not list parent resources for other books on your website?

Answer

Dear Dorothy,

Your child's teacher is the best source for suggesting titles of books for home reading, as she or he will know your child's ability best. We do not suggest sticking to one level of book for home reading, as your child will be able to read a great variety of books. It is important that your child read books that are easy to read at home. Our lists are geared to teachers who are making instructional decisions for children.

Best,
Irene


October Question #3

Michelle Sturman
Literacy Coach

I just wanted to make sure that the levels given on this website for the Guided Reading books match the book levels from your Guided Reading professional books.

Thank you for your time,
Michelle

Answer

Dear Michelle,

You can expect that the leveled readers are leveled appropriately and will match the lists in our books. You will find the levels of all the different collections—leveled readers, science, social studies, and vocabulary readers. They were leveled carefully according to our characteristics.

Best to you,
Irene


September Question #1

Sarah
Curriculum Director

Dr. Fountas,

How do you level Guided Reading books beyond level Z? We want to determine levels beyond Z to further specific growth. Are there indicators of levels beyond Z?

Answer

Dear Sarah,

We have not created descriptors for books beyond level Z. These books carry on many of the characteristics you see at level Z but include much more mature themes. They often carry a much higher content load and more sophisticated literary qualities.

Best,
Irene


May Question #1

Larry Ouimette
Principal

Dr. Fountas,

What book leveling system do you recommend for a middle school, Grades 6–8? We have a number of elementary schools that feed into our middle school. Teachers at the elementary level have been trained in the literacy collaborative partnership and are using your recommended leveling system. We would like to continue many of the practices that have been started with these students in the elementary system. What leveling system do you recommend that we use with students in Grades 6–8?

Answer

Dear Larry,

We use the same set of characteristics to look at the difficulty level of texts, from levels A to Z. I refer you to Leveled Books for Readers by Fountas and Pinnell, and Leveled Readers for Guided Reading A Handbook by Irene C. Fountas, to see the gradient and the approximate grade level correspondences.

You will see that there are goals for grades six, seven and eight, levels X, Y and Z.

I am happy to see that you are thinking about differentiating levels for middle school reading, as the students are different from another.

Good luck with your work.
Irene


April Question #1

Patty S. Hunn
Special Education (K–5)

Dr. Fountas,

I love teaching guided reading in my class, and I use your suggestions to make accommodations for special education students while teaching guided reading. This past year, our school district relocated the ESOL program to our building, and I now have several students who are currently being served in the ESOL program as well as having a special education diagnosis, such as LD or LI. Can you please offer some suggestions as to how I can effectively use guided reading with these students? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Answer

Dear Patty,

Guided reading is ideal for children who have difficulty in reading because you select a text that is just right for the children's particular strengths and needs. You design the lesson to fit the particular students. English as a Second Language students benefit greatly because there is so much language use in the lessons. In the introduction, the teacher crafts the language children need to hear and use. Then children should be engaged in a great deal of talk in the discussion. You can select books that have language and concepts that are within the children's reach with your teaching support.

The best suggestions are to choose appropriate books, give a lot of language support, and teach children how to check the language and the meaning with the print continually, so they have many ways to check on themselves.

Keep up the good work,
Irene


April Question #2

Cathy Frankel
Literacy Specialist/K–3

Our district is currently making a transition toward guided reading. I have only worked for the district this school year. Some of my classroom teachers are excited and thrilled about comprehensive literacy, while others are less so. We are all learning together. To me, it fills so many voids and certainly puts the learner at the forefront of instruction. My question concerns comprehension. I only see accuracy noted as a determination for level placement. Should a child's reading level be determined solely by his instructional accuracy level, or should there be a comprehension component? If the latter, what do you feel best measures adequate comprehension before advancement? Thanks for opening our eyes to all we can do to help our students become strategic readers! Who truly love reading!

Answer

Dear Cathy,

You must always consider fluency and comprehension along with accuracy in reading, as they are all important aspects of effective reading. When you take a running record, you are getting information on the different sources of information children are using, what actions they are taking to make sure that all sources of information fit together, and how fluent and phrased the reading is. Your discussion of the text with the child after you take the running record is further evidence of comprehension. You can read more about this in the assessment chapter of Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children (Fountas and Pinnell).

Best to you in your work in comprehensive literacy,
Irene


March Question #1

Mary Lou Bristol
First Grade Teacher

We have the Leveled Readers for grades 1 and 2. What is available for kindergarten?

Answer

Dear Mary Lou,

You will want to look at the Emergent Leveled Readers set which includes the easiest books. Secondly, some of the grade 1 books at levels A, B, or C will be appropriate for kindergarten. You will also want to look for the new Kindergarten Leveled Readers set to be published by Houghton Mifflin in the next few months. It will include mostly books at Levels A and B, and a few at Level C, designed specifically for kindergarten teachers.

Best,
Irene


March Question #2

Monica Schoen
Reading Specialist

Dear Irene,

Are you planning on writing/publishing an updated “companion” book for Guiding Readers and Writers in Gr. 3–6 with recently published titles? Also, any thoughts about leveling books beyond grade 8?

Sincerely,
Monica Schoen

Answer

Dear Monica,

Watch for our new Web site, which will have all the updates and all the books from levels A to Z:

Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Book List.
http://www.fountasandpinnellleveledbooks.com

It should be available in the next month or two. We do not intend to level books beyond grade 8, but the level Y and Z books are very appropriate for students who are beyond grade 8.

Best,
Irene


February Question #1

Sherryl L. Johnson
Curriculum Director

I would like to read research about the guided reading aspect of the Houghton Mifflin series, along with information about the Leveled Readers. Are there any you can recommend? Thank you.

Answer

Dear Sherryl,

The research on small-group instruction is the most pertinent to the teaching in guided reading. It addresses the aspects of instructional-level teaching. A search for the topic will probably bring up a few titles and some doctoral dissertations. You may want to read the National Reading Panel Report, available from the Department of Education, as well.

Your Houghton Mifflin representative can provide you with the research that accompanies Houghton Mifflin Reading and some information that describes Leveled Readers. Please call 1-800-733-2828 to contact your local representative.

Best,
Irene


February Question #2

Larry Raymer
Principal

We are looking for ways to assess our students' reading levels. Now we use STAR reading assessment, which we do not find to be very accurate. I have heard of Dibels as a quick and easy way to assess a students' reading level. Where can I get more information about Dibels? Are there other quick and easy assessments to determine students' reading levels? We have DRA but it takes 30 or 45 minutes per student and we do not have the time or personnel to assess students using this instrument.

Answer

Dear Larry,

I can only speak to the assessments I have used. I do believe you can find information on Dibels at their Web site:

Official DIBELS Home Page
http://dibels.uoregon.edu

I am most familiar with the type of assessment that involves finding the individual child's text level and takes about 15 or 20 minutes per child. It does involve having the children read leveled books silently or orally and discussing the text with the child, so it takes time. The good news is that teachers can do it at the beginning of the year to get to know the childrens' starting levels and form initial instructional groups; then they will not need to do it again. They will be able to closely determine levels by working with the children in the groups, taking running records, and can adjust the groups accordingly without administering the benchmark assessment again.

Best,
Irene


January Question

Shirley Holm
1st Grade Teacher

Our school is in its first year of existence and we have no leveled books besides the Houghton Mifflin Leveled Readers. The problem is that often the level of the readers is not the level of the students. That is, sometimes the “On Level” books are too low for some but the “Above Level” are too high for a given theme and week. I am just on the verge of putting all 90 books in order of reading levels (A-J) which I pulled off the Houghton Mifflin Web site rather than have them stay in the Theme/Week order as they are now. Do you have any word for me before I do this? Thanks so much!

Answer

Dear Shirley,

If you use the leveled books according to the alphabet levels, you will be focusing more closely on the instructional levels of the children. Simply put the levels on your books. Cluster your children in about four groups and then select a text that you feel they will be able to process well with your instructional support. You will want to move the children in the groups as they develop differently from each other, so be prepared to make some grouping changes over time.

Good luck!