What Are Fountas and Pinnell Text Bands?
Fountas and Pinnell are accredited with creating a text leveling system that is widely used, especially in balanced literacy instructional settings. The “text gradient” as they call it, includes levels ranging from A, being the easiest, to Z, being the most difficult. Most common children’s books are listed by their level on their site. http://www.fountasandpinnellleveledbooks.com
This dynamic duo of former reading recovery teachers have done a ton of research over the past 20 years that has greatly influenced my teaching. Their book The Continuum of Literacy Learning (Pinnell and Fountas, 2010) is my guide to thinking deeply about what readers need to do on each level of text complexity. I often refer to it as the rosetta stone of teaching reading.
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (http://readingandwritingproject.org) (TCRWP) has done a great deal of work with the Continuum of Literacy Learning. They created bands of text complexity that group Fountas and Pinnell text levels. It is always optimal to provide guided reading instruction to students at their individual instructional levels. However, in the upper grades where a class (such as my own) of 32 students can be reading on levels spanning from A-S, this is not always possible. The TCRWP bands of text levels help me as a teacher to group students whose needs are similar for reading and word work instruction. This link includes a list of text bands above level K and some of the needs of readers in each of these bands http://www.hcschools.org/hms/Fountas%20and%20Pinnell%20Book%20Level%20Explanation.pdf. I also refer to the following blog for info on the project’s work on bands http://statueofliteracy.blogspot.com/2010/01/bands-of-books.html.
I am in the process of creating materials for each of the text bands that I work with. I call these tools that help me with band work, “Band Aids” and they have their own page on this blog. Please feel free to use them and kindly include my name in their use. I would also love to hear about how other teachers are using text bands. Please leave replies to tell me how you use text bands in your classroom.