LLI: How to use the Literacy Continuum for Power Planning

If you don’t have access to The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum: A Tool for Assessment, Planning and Teaching K-8 I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy.  My Literacy Continuum is an invaluable resource that I use for planning daily.  I was lucky enough to get my hands on the expanded edition when my school district purchased updated Benchmark Assessment System 3rd edition kits this school year.

Using the guided reading section of the Literacy Continuum for planning has helped me to internalize the reading behaviors I should expect to see at each reading level. I’ve developed a better understanding of what features each book level contains and what type of word work to focus on at each level. Here are the steps I take when using the Literacy Continuum to help me select my emphases when planning for Leveled Literacy Intervention lessons.

1.Deeply Analyze Running Records

It is not sufficient to simply find an accuracy and self-correction rate. I have to look deeper at what my student is using and neglecting.  In a previous post I included the types of questions I ask myself when analyzing a running record.  Here is a recent running record from one of my students.  I try to capture the neglect of or use of strategic behaviors at the top of the running record.

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2.Note Reading Behaviors

I make copies of the pages from the Literacy Continuum of the guided reading level I am working in.  I do this so that I can mark it up with notes and highlighting. I start with reviewing the summary at the beginning of each level in the Literacy Continuum to give myself an overview of what students at this level look like.


I highlight the behaviors I have evidence of from the running record. It is also helpful to look across a few running records to notice patterns over time.  You may notice that the student has control of the behavior some of the time, but is not doing it other times. I have found a lot of power in lifting what is partially under control.  I look for patterns and trends for each child as well as for the group.

Please excuse the horrible copies. Sometimes the copy machine is not nice to me.

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3. Choose 2-3 emphases


I think about the 12 systems of strategic actions and choose 2-3 reading behaviors to focus on during the lesson that I think will best support this child/group.

Example of reading behaviors to teach for:

Within – Using known letter sounds more efficiently to help read words with easy spelling patterns (VC, CVC, CVe)

Within – Noticing when the word doesn’t look right in the middle or at the end

Beyond – Infering obvious character traits

Beyond – Identifying new knowledge gained when reading

About – Using some specific language to talk about literary features e.g. beginning, ending, problem, character

4. Use the Prompting Guide.



Lastly, I use my prompting guides to find some language that will help me to teach for, prompt for and reinforce the reading behaviors that I am supporting.  I do this for the group and for each individual child.

I am not going to lie.  This type of planning does take time, but teaching children to read is complex, so this is time well spent.  You will find that the more you use the Literacy Continuum the quicker you will become at choosing reading behaviors to teach for, prompt for and reinforce during lessons.   You will also find yourself growing in your understanding of what the features are of different text levels, the challenges of different text levels, and what readers look like at different text levels.  All of this this will help you to be more responsive to your students’ needs.  The payoff will be students who are strategic, thoughtful readers.


One thought on “LLI: How to use the Literacy Continuum for Power Planning

  1. Pingback: The Power of Shared Reading for English Language Learners – Literacy Pages

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