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What is The Literacy Continuum?

*This is the second in a series of blogs about The Fountas &
Pinnell Literacy Continuum.
Don’t forget
to read last week’s blog on the Systems
of Strategic Actions
, an essential part of
The Literacy
. Read on to learn more. 

You may have seen The
Literacy Continuum
on a colleague’s desk, flipped through it, and put it
back down. You thought you were picking up a regular professional book, but what
you found was a dense, flurry of words and colors that might as well have been
in Greek. You were right about one thing: it is not a regular professional book.
It is THE essential tool for elevating your language and literacy
expertise. [more]

Think of The Literacy
as a roadmap. It’s a tool to help you meet students where they
are and lead them to where they need to be. It’s meant to help guide your
assessment through observation, which would then inform your teaching. Your
observations show you where their literacy skills sit on the "map," and
will lead you to the correct route to take for the next step in instruction. This
essential tool is comprised of eight continua, each focusing on a different
aspect of Fountas and Pinnell’s learning and literacy instructional framework (Guided Reading, Second Edition, Fountas
and Pinnell 2017) contributing in different yet complementary ways to students’
reading, writing, and language processes. Here’s how:

Reading Process

Four of the eight continua address reading: interactive
read-aloud, shared and performance reading, guided reading, and writing about
reading. Within these four continua, you will find a list of behaviors and
understandings that students should be showing at each grade or reading level
on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. The behaviors are organized according to
the Systems of Strategic Actions for thinking within the text, beyond the text,
and about the text. All of these strategic actions should be going on in the
readers’ heads simultaneously as they process texts. As they move along in
grades and levels, students expand their systems of strategic actions by
meeting the demands of increasingly complex texts. “As you work with the
continua related to reading, you will see a gradual increase in the complexity
of the kinds of thinking that readers do. Most of the principles of learning
cannot be pinpointed at one point in time or even one year. You will usually
see the same kind of principle (behavior or understanding) repeated across
grades or across levels of texts; each time remember that the learner is
applying the principle in a more complex way to read harder texts,” (Fountas
and Pinnell 2017).


The three continua about communication are writing, oral and
visual communication, and technological communication. Whereas the writing
about reading continuum is an excellent approach to helping students extend
their thinking, it does not take the place of specific instruction that is
devoted to helping students develop as writers. “Through the writing workshop,
teachers help writers continually expand their learning of the craft,
conventions, and process of writing to communicate meaning to an audience,”
(Fountas and Pinnell 2017). The oral and visual communication continuum was
created to focus on the broader area of communication beyond the printed word
in listening and speaking, and presentation. In the technological communications
continua, there are descriptions of specific goals for helping students find
effective ways to use technology effectively for learning, communication, and
research. “We cannot know exactly the kinds of communication skills that will
be important in 2020 and beyond, but we can equip our students with the
foundational competencies in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and
technology that will allow them to take advantage of new opportunities for
communication,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).   

Phonics, Spelling,
and Word Study

For each grade in this continuum, you will find specific
principles related to the nine areas of learning that are important for grades
PreK–8: early literacy concepts, phonological awareness, letter knowledge,
letter-sound relationships, spelling patterns, high-frequency words, and
word-solving actions.  It is drawn from
the longer continuum published in the Fountas & Pinnell Comprehensive Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study
.  “Our work is based on the premise that
students not only need to acquire phonics and word analysis understandings, but
also they need to apply these understandings daily to reading and writing
continuous text. This volume shows how, over time, learning builds on learning.
It is designed to help you think analytically about this complicated area of
learning and be more precise in your planning and teaching for phonics,
spelling, and word study,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

How is it different
from the previous edition?

You may be familiar with the previous edition, The Continuum of Literacy Learning. The
basic descriptions of text characteristics and behaviors and understandings are
still there, but the descriptions are more precise. It’s easier on the eyes and
arranged in a way that you can spend less time thinking about where on the
Systems of Strategic Actions your student’s behaviors lie, and spend more time
knowing how to instruct them.  

The key differences are:

Streamlined organization

Expanded behaviors and examples across the

First appearance of a behavior or goal or text
characteristic is indicated by a red bullet [behaviors are acquired a nd then
elaborated over time]

Clear organization of and explicit links to the
Systems of Strategic Actions

Four-color design for clarity and focus

“Our intention was to create a document that holds these
precise details in a way that serves as a reference for teaching. In this way,
it serves as a curriculum guide to use in observation, planning, teaching, and
reflecting, always asking, ‘What are my students showing that they know and can

Log in next week to read about Who is The Literacy Continuum for? And how is it used?

Jill Backman, Fountas and Pinnell Marketing Manager

Join the fastest growing community in the field of literacy education. Get your free membership and stay up to date on the latest news and resources from Fountas and Pinnell at www.fountasandpinnell.com 

For a well-organized, searchable archive of FAQs and discussions that are monitored by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, go to our Discussion Board at www.fountasandpinnell.com/forum 

For more collaborative conversation, join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/ 


The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. c 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.




Topics: Uncategorized

Thu, Oct 20, '16

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