Continuum of Literacy Learning

Pinnell, G. & Fountas, I. (2011). The Continuum of Literacy Learning Grades PreK-8: A Guide to Teaching. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Interactive Read Aloud and Literature Discussion:

Students engage in deep discussion with one another about a text that they have heard read aloud or one they have read independently.

Characteristics for Selecting Texts:

  • Genre: full range of fiction and non-fiction genres at every grade level
  • Text Structure: fiction and non-fiction organization
  • Content: builds upon prior knowledge to understand new information
  • Themes and Ideas: appropriate for age and background experience to stretch students’ knowledge, making connections to existing knowledge
  • Language and Literary Features: literary quality that provides for processing literary language
  • Sentence Complexity: listening to sentences read aloud helps students gradually internalize more complex sentence structures
  • Vocabulary: expand the vocabulary students know and understand in both oral and written language by reading or hearing written language read aloud
  • Words: listening to text read aloud provides students exposure to challenging words
  • Illustrations and Graphics: provide information that supports text or adds to the body of the text
  • Book and Print Features: physical aspects of the text to be shared and discussed with students

Shared and Performance Reading:

Students read together or take roles in reading a shared text. They reflect the meaning of the text with their voices.

Characteristics for Choosing Texts:

  • Genre: full range of fiction and non-fiction genres at every grade level
  • Text Structure: fiction and non-fiction organization
  • Content: builds upon prior knowledge to understand new information
  • Themes and Ideas: appropriate for age and experience to extend students’ understanding
  • Language and Literary Features: literary quality that provides for different interpretations of text
  • Sentence Complexity: practicing sentences for performance helps students internalize various sentence structures
  • Vocabulary: students meet new words many times to expand their vocabularies
  • Words: through shared reading students learn more about how words work
  • Illustrations: help students interpret text
  • Book and Print Features: support students in reading more complex texts if appropriately selected

Writing About Reading:

Students extend their understanding of a text through a variety of writing genres and sometimes with illustrations.

Forms of Writing About Reading:

  • Functional Writing: communication, Reader’s Notebook in grades 2-8
  • Narrative Writing: tells a story
  • Informational Writing: organizes facts into a coherent whole
  • Poetic Writing: selecting and arranging words to convey meaning that evokes feelings and sensory images

Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study:

Students learn about the relationships of letters to sounds as well as the structure of words to help them in reading and spelling.

Broad Categories of Learning:

  • Early Literacy Concepts: awareness of how written language works
  • Phonological Awareness: hear sounds in words, sounds of language
  • Letter Knowledge: how letters look, how to distinguish from one another, how to detect in text, how to use in words
  • Letter-Sound Relationships: learning connections between letters and sounds
  • Spelling Patterns: patterns in the way words are constructed
  • High-Frequency Words: core of high-utility words recognized with automaticity
  • Word Meaning and Vocabulary: know the meaning of texts in oral and written language
  • Word Structure: notice categories of words to apply word-solving strategies
  • Word-Solving Actions: focus on strategic moves readers and writers make when using knowledge of the language system


Oral and Visual Communication

Students present their ideas through oral discussion and presentation or through the use of technology.

*BCPS supports the ISTE Student Standards for Technology intergration.

Communication Beyond Print:

    • Listening and Speaking:
      • listening and understanding: learn by active listening
      • social interaction: develop ability to interact with others in positive ways
      • extended discussion: critical to development of reading comprehension
      • content: describe thinking, make predictions and inferences, and support talk with evidence from texts
    • Presentation:
      • Voice: speaker’s personal style
      • Conventions: enunciate words clearly, talk at appropriate volume, use effective pace, make eye contact
      • Organization: well planned, concise and clear
      • Word Choice: impact audience and communicate clearly
      • Ideas and Content: substantive
      • Media: varied visual displays

Technological Communication

Students learn effective ways of communicating and searching for information through technology, they learn to think critically about information and sources.

ISTE Student Standards:

      • Creativity and innovation
      • Communication and collaboration
      • Research and information fluency
      • Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
      • Digital citizenship
      • Technology operations and concepts

Writing Craft, Conventions, and Process

Students compose and write their own examples of a variety of genres, written for varying purposes and audiences.

Major Writing Areas

    • Purpose and Genre:
      • Narrative
      • Informational
      • Poetic
      • Functional
      • Hybrids
    • Craft:
      • Organization
      • Idea Development
      • Language Use
      • Word Choice
      • Voice
    • Conventions:
      • Text Layout
      • Grammar
      • Capitalization
      • Punctuation
      • Spelling
      • Handwriting and Word Processing
    • Writing Process:
      • Rehearsing and Planning
      • Drafting and Revising
      • Editing and Proofreading
      • Publishing
      • Sketching and Drawing
      • Viewing Self as Writer

Guided Reading:

Students read a teacher-selected text in a small group; the teacher provides explicit teaching and support for reading increasingly challenging texts.

Guided Reading Lesson Structure

  • Introduction to the Text: facilitate students’ thinking
  • Reading the Text: reinforce the effective use of strategic actions in reading throughout the text
  • Discussing the Meaning: support students as they think through the text
  • Teaching for Processing Strategies: revisit text to reinforce strategic actions in reading
  • Word Work: instruct word analysis based on students’ needs
  • Extending the Meaning: use writing, drawing, or extended discussion to explore any aspect of understanding the text

Systems of Strategic Actions

  • Thinking Within the Text: solve words, monitor and correct, search for and use information, summarize, maintain fluency, adjust reading for text type
  • Thinking Beyond the Text: predict, make connections, synthesize, infer
  • Thinking About the Text: analyze and critique

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