October 27. 2016
*This is the third in a series of blogs about The Fountas &
Pinnell Literacy Continuum. Don’t forget
to read last week’s blog on What is The Literacy Continuum? Read on to learn more about how to use it.
Fountas and Pinnell strongly believe that schools should be
a community of learners, not an educational factory. The classroom is much more
than a place where children learn to read and write. “It’s a laboratory where
they learn how to be confident, self-determined, kind, and democratic members
of a community,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). In order to create a community,
you need a common language. When everyone uses the same language, a collective
conversation occurs, and that’s exactly what The Literacy Continuum does: provides a common language.
Here are the many different ways in which The Literacy Continuum can be used and
who can use it to work toward building a school into a community of readers and
Since the principal and leadership teams are the key to
teachers’ support systems as they grow in conceptual understanding of their
work, it is vital to have a common language. The Literacy Continuum can be used
along with teachers to discuss their common expectations for students’ achievement
in each curriculum area, grade by grade. They can use it to review the progress
of individual students in the classroom, in intervention, and in special
education, and share their perspectives with teachers of other grades. “The
continuum is intended to provide teachers with a conceptual tool that they can
use to think constructively about their work. We want to support them in
crafting instruction that will link their observations and deep knowledge of
their own students with learning over time,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).
The Classroom Teacher
The classroom teacher can use The Literacy Continuum as a foundation for teaching. “As you think
about, plan for, and reflect on the effectiveness of providing individual,
small-group, and whole-group instruction, you may consult different areas of
the continuum,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). There are two sections within the guided
reading, interactive read-aloud, shared reading, and writing about reading continuum.
One section is to help guide teachers in selecting the texts they’ll use for
various purposes, and the other section, which is in each continuum, is a list
of behaviors and understandings used to plan text introductions, guide
observations and interactions with individuals, and shape teaching decisions.
Special Education Teacher
The school’s interventionist or special education teacher can
use The Literacy Continuum to assess
the gap that students need to bridge to catch up to grade-level expectations. They can use the continuum to select texts
that have the highest potential for accelerated progress. Then, through
observation of behaviors and understandings, they can use it to assess their
students’ reading progress and the effectiveness of the teaching. “Assessment
and observation will help you identify the specific areas in which students
need help. Use the continuum to find the specific understandings that can guide
intervention,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). With all good intervention, communication
with the classroom teacher is important. If you’re both using the continuum,
you’ll both be speaking the same literacy language.
A literacy coach can use The
Literacy Continuum as a foundation for coaching conversations. “It will be
useful for coaches to help teachers become able to access information quickly
in their copies of the continuum as part of their reflection on lessons they
have taught and on their planning,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). The literacy
coach and the teacher can work together, using the continuum, before, during,
and after the observation of a lesson. The coach can use the language in the
continuum to focus the conversation with the teacher on critical areas of
teaching and learning. When the teacher is also using the continuum, they are
both speaking the same language, which adds specificity to the conversation
that will extend teachers’ understanding of learning processes and development
School librarians can use the continuum to select a range of
texts on interesting topics and content areas. For example, librarians can
refer to the continuum to help teachers find what books might be appropriate for
interactive read-aloud, and help them build text sets for connected learning.
They can use it to assist teachers in finding books at appropriate levels for
students as well.
The Literacy Continuum
isn’t just for the classroom teacher. Everyone in the school can use it to work
toward a common language, which will lead to a coherent community. “When you
and your colleagues teach for the same behaviors and understandings, your
students will benefit from the coherence,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).
~Jill Backman, Fountas & Pinnell Marketing Manager
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Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades.© 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum. © 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.