October 27. 2016

How Do I Use The Literacy Continuum?

*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 writers:

Principal and Leadership Team

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.

Interventionist or 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.  

Literacy Coach

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 over time.

Librarian

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


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/ 

References:

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.

October 20. 2016

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 Continuum. 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. 

Think of The Literacy Continuum 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).

Communication

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 Guide.  “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 continua

·         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 do?’”

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/ 

References:

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

 

 

 

October 18. 2016

October Twitter Chat on The Literacy Continuum

On Thursday, October 13th, authors Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted a Twitter chat on The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum: A Tool for Assessment, Planning, and Teaching. People from all over the world chimed in to discuss The Literacy Continuum and its role in schools as a road map for literacy acquisition. Read on to see how this essential tool benefits classroom teachers, administrators, and coaches. See how these educators use The Literacy Continuum in student observation, which informs responsive teaching. Gain tips on different ways people are using it in the classroom in conjunction with other tools, such as Reader's Notebooks, sticky notes, etc. to enhance their teaching. See how teachers are using The Literacy Continuum for planning instruction that directly meets the needs of the students.  

The best way to describe The Literacy Continuum is as a road map. It tells you what behaviors and understandings to look for during student observation. Your observations tell you where their literacy skills sit on the "map," which will lead you to the correct route to take for the next step in instruction. 

Join us on November 17 at 8:00 p.m. EST for our next Twitter Chat on Guided Reading, Second Edition.