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Literacy Sequences

The key to spiral review is consistency. But you already know that. You also know how challenging it can be to consistently deliver small snippets of reading skills, word study, and comprehension tasks. With consistent spiral review, it’s like a snowball. Students’ reading and spelling skills cumulate massively over time.

Simply stated, it can be hard to create this kind of consistency.

In this post, I’ll share the details behind our new Literacy Learning Sequences, which are designed to make it easy for you to:

  • Quickly Plan Spiral Review
  • Build Consistency Into Your Lessons
  • Make Spiral WarmUps a Routine

Key Takeaways

These learning sequences take the guesswork and labor out of planning spiral warm-ups.

One more thing…we all know how messy English Language Arts and Reading instruction can be.

It’s like a spaghetti bowl with so many skills all mixed in together.

These learning sequences will help you untangle the spaghetti and provide consistent daily spiral review. One day at a time. One targeted skill at a time.

What Are the Learning Sequences?

Starting in 2019, Awesome Members will have four levels of learning sequences in their account.

Each literacy learning sequence is designed to target the learning of specific ranges of DRA and Fountas & Pinnell reading levels.

Navigating a learning sequence and starting your warm-up is as simple as:

  1. Log In
  2. Click on Sequences
  3. Click the Month and Week
  4. Then Begin That Day’s Warm-Up

These learning sequences will help you untangle the spaghetti and provide consistent daily spiral review. One day at a time. One targeted skill at a time.Click To Tweet

The Difficulty of Designing Learning Sequences

It’s challenging enough to follow your curriculum and plan your lessons with a variety of highly effective teaching strategies…and to do while differentiating for a variety of reading levels.

It’s more difficult to add the task of planning out your own learning sequence for daily spiral review.

  • What skills were learned last year that need to be reviewed this year?
  • Which foundational word study skills need the most repetition to build automaticity?
  • What skills need the most exposure to maximize long-term retention?
  • What minor gaps exist now that will turn into major gaps with 5th- and 6th-grade text complexities?

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…educators must constantly search for effective ways to serve the children they teach. Most learning problems exist not within the child but in the inadequacy of the system to find a way to teach him…What was an early weakness that would respond to instruction becomes a long-term deficit.

– 2009, Irene Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell

Even Fountas & Pinnell (2009) recognize the difficulty of designing instruction and learning sequence to ensure gaps do not widen.

Matching the Sequence to Student Needs

This is where the scope of the learning sequence is critical. It must be tailored to the specific needs of readers at each level of literacy development.

Students need their spiral review to match their proficiency at various levels of text complexity. And each text level requires mastery of its own literacy skill sets. There are syllabication patterns, word parts, and varying degrees of difficulty with sentence structure that students must master in incremental steps.

Bit by bit, over time.

Students need a sequenced spiral review that matches their needs. Drip by drip.

Spiral WarmUps Literacy Sequences

The four literacy learning sequences are specifically tailored to students’ needs. They’re designed for differentiation along the literacy continuum.

Are They For My Students?

We built the spiral warm-ups learning sequences in alignment with Fountas & Pinnell’s Literacy Continuum. Even if your school or district doesn’t use the continuum, you can browse the levels below and see where your students match up the best.

Each level is also aligned with DRA and Guided Reading levels. If you need a reading level chart, this is a good one.


Sequence Level 1

DRA 18-24 Fountas & Pinnell Level J-L For students with some proficiency in these skills:

  • Solves words using word parts, endings, prefixes
  • Processes sentences over 15 words in length
  • Rereads as needed as a result of self-monitoring
  • Reads fluently (with accuracy, speed, and intonation) with texts DRA <20
  • Creates basic summaries of or can paraphrase short texts
  • Notices aspects of a few basic genres

Sequence Level 2

DRA 28-30 Fountas & Pinnell Levels M-N For students with some proficiency in these skills:

  • Solves words with 2 or 3 syllables
  • Uses basic prefixes and suffixes to understand word meanings
  • Self-corrects errors if they cause misunderstandings
  • Reads fluently with texts DRA <30
  • Silently sustains reading the same text over the course of multiple days
  • Retells text in sequence
  • Understands plot in terms of problem and solution
  • Can use text evidence to justify inferences or conclusions

Sequence Level 3

DRA 34-38 Fountas & Pinnell Levels O-P For students with some proficiency in these skills:

  • Notices and uses new and interesting words orally or in written work
  • Uses a variety of word parts to understand word meanings
  • Solves multi-syllabic words
  • Uses background knowledge to understand words and text
  • Read fluently with appropriate phrasing with text DRA <40.
  • Makes inferences that go beyond the text
  • Supports inferences with multiple sources of text evidence
  • Summarizes longer narratives orally or in writing

Sequence Level 4

DRA 40+ Fountas & Pinnell Levels Q-T For students with some proficiency in these skills:

  • Actively adds to spoken and written vocabulary when reading new and interesting words
  • Flexibility with prefixes, suffixes, base words, root words, and syllables
  • Identifies connotations and multiple meanings of words
  • Adjusts aspects of fluency to match a variety of purposes with texts DRA 40 or greater
  • Constructs summarizes of dense texts or complex dialogues

Organized Like A Calendar

You might like this feature the best! Once you decide which level best matches the spiral review needs of your students, you just follow the sequence.

It’s laid out by month, week, and day. 

Each month has four weeks of warm-ups, which allows a little wiggle room. Some of your school months have 15 instructional days, and others have 20+ days. We know how assemblies, tests, field trips, and holidays can wreak havoc on a calendar. We covered you for these events!

Literacy Sequences Based On DRA Levels in the Free Spiral WarmUps

The best thing about this layout is how quick and easy it is to use. After you select the month, you’ll find the daily sequence.

The weekly sequence lays out your warm-ups for each day, including a preview of the video. The video will expand into full-screen mode when you start the warm-up.

Literacy Learning Sequences

We hope you find the new literacy learning sequences to be a huge help in several ways:

  • Planning for Spiral Review is Easy
  • Foundational Literacy Skills Become Automatic
  • Students’ Reading and Spelling Drastically Improves
  • Spiral WarmUps Become a Consistent Part of Your Routine

Note: Misconception Alert

  1. The Learning Sequences are not meant to replace a full and robust balanced literacy curriculum.
  2. Spiral WarmUps do provide a daily review of core skills needed to attain long-term retention of core reading and writing skills.

How will you use the new Literacy Sequences?

Answer this 3-Question Quiz to Let Us Know (Time Needed: 30 Seconds)

Spiral WarmUps Now Has Literacy Learning Sequences!

Literacy Sequences





One response to “Literacy Sequences”

  1. […] 1 and move through the end of the year in sequence. There are plenty of spiraling reviews (and literacy sequences) to catch up earlier skills and fill important reading […]

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