January 26. 2017

What Is the Difference Between Guided Reading and Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)?


We have received a lot of questions from teachers recently about how the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention Systems differ from guided reading. Here is a rundown of what they are, how they are alike, and how they differ. “We believe that a literate life is the right of every child, and most children need expert teaching to have access to that life,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).


What is Guided Reading?

Guided reading is one component of a comprehensive language and literacy framework for classroom instruction; it is not the only context that contributes to a student’s reading growth. Across many contexts, students receive instruction in reading comprehension, phonics/word study, and writing. The texts should be accessible to each student in the group with the support of skilled teaching, which means that the text should offer some challenges. Each lesson should show students how to “think like readers and expand their in-the-head network of systems of strategic actions,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). 

What is LLI?

LLI is a literacy intervention system for students who find reading and writing difficult. The objective is to bring struggling readers and writers to grade-level competency. LLI is a systematically designed, sequenced, short, supplementary lesson that builds on high-quality classroom instruction. The instruction is highly concentrated in reading, writing, and phonics.  Even with many high-quality literacy opportunities, some students struggle with literacy learning. LLI gets them back on track so they can benefit fully from classroom instruction. Its goal is to give students the boost they need to read at the same level as their peers. 

How are they the same?

Both guided reading and LLI are daily, small-group instruction that helps students develop proficient systems of strategic actions for reading. 

The purpose of both guided reading and LLI is to develop a deep understanding that blossoms into an appreciation of the craft of writing, expansion of thinking, and increased enjoyment, which are goals for every year of school. 

Benchmark Assessment Systems should be used to determine the instructional level for each student in both LLI and guided reading.

How are they different?

Purpose. LLI is meant to supplement classroom instruction, whereas guided reading is differentiated classroom instruction. 

Students. Guided reading is used with all students while LLI is used with readers who are having difficulty and are reading below grade level.

Duration. LLI is a temporary, short-term intervention (10 to 24 weeks depending on which system is being used), while guided reading is ongoing across elementary school years. 

Materials. Leveled books are used for both guided reading and LLI. The texts in LLI, however, are designed specifically for the system and placed in a preplanned sequence, while the leveled texts for guided reading are selected by the teacher for the group.

Grouping. In guided reading, students who are similar in their reading development are placed in small groups of 4 to 8. In LLI, students are also grouped according to similar instructional levels, but in groups of 3, moving up to a maximum of 4 for upper grades.

Time. In guided reading, lessons should take approximately 15 to 25 minutes daily, while LLI lessons are 30 minutes daily, stretching to 45 minutes for upper elementary grades.

Teacher. Guided reading lessons are given by the classroom teacher. LLI lessons can be given by classroom teachers, but are usually done by an interventionist or literacy specialist.  

For more information on LLI and Guided Reading resources, visit www.fountasandpinnell.com.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

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/ 

January 24. 2017

How to Create a Script for Readers’ Theater: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell

Readers’ theater is a dynamic process that is easy to implement in elementary classrooms. It is a fast and engaging way of making any literary text a type of play. Readers’ theater allows students to interpret characters’ feelings and attributes; learn new vocabulary words and language structure; practice expressive reading for an authentic purpose; build oral expression and speaking skills; and engage in oral reading for an authentic purpose.  Many readers’ theater scripts are downloadable from the Internet but here’s how you can create your own:

1. Select an appropriate fiction or nonfiction text. 

2. Decide which parts to turn into a dialogue and narrative.

3. Have students work together to assign parts (characters and narrator).

4. Have students read the parts silently and think about how they will read them aloud.

5. Have students read the script a couple of times.

6. Have students read the script to others (optional).

Adapted from Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. © 2017 by Fountas and Pinnell.


January 13. 2017

The Importance of Creating a Community of Learners

Would you describe your school's culture as being warm and supportive, but without attention to rigorous learning? Or is it run like a tight ship in an attempt to create rigorous learning, but lacks warmth? Fountas and Pinnell believe that in order to build an inclusive, respectful, and supportive social community where people collaborate with and help each other, you can't have one scenario without the other. One of the goals of the second edition of Guided Reading is to get teachers to not only treat the classroom as a place to learn to read, write, and expand language skills, but to create a community of learners. Here are some ways to start building your community!

Provide Thought-Provoking Books

The classroom is where students spend most of their lives. It's important to create an environment that helps them think deeply about the world, themselves, and how they fit into the world as global citizens. A great way to open up these channels of thinking is through books! Give them high-quality books that help them think about important ideas and issues, and about developing empathy for others. 

Think About Classroom Management 

In Guided Reading, 2e, Fountas and Pinnell describe the behavioral and emotional expectations of a student from entry to middle school; the traits you want to see in a successful student. These include, social interaction, empathy, sense of community, emotional well-being, and self-regulation. Guided Reading, 2e shows you ways to provide numerous opportunities for students to learn these traits throughout the school day, from grade to grade, starting with the classroom. Your classroom should be a peaceful environment and reflect a climate of acceptance in which you can communicate to your students that you are interested in what they have to say. But you should also think about the physical space, as well as predictability, empathy and kindness, inquiry, and more. “Your classroom is a place where students learn how to read, write, and expand all of their language skills, but it is much more. It is a laboratory where they learn how to be confident, self-determined, kind, and democratic,” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017).

Have a Design for Literacy Education

Creating the ideal literacy classroom environment where your students are always thinking, talking, and reading about the world can be a daunting task. You want to make adequate time for designing a landscape for language and literacy learning, but how? Where do you start? Fountas and Pinnell know from personal experience, and from talking to teachers that there are many constraints—both physical and financial—to creating this ideal environment, but it is possible. In Guided Reading, 2e, Fountas and Pinnell provide creative ways to take this vision of a literacy classroom into an actual design, as well as provide advice on how to create this classroom on a budget.  "When students spend their time thinking, reading, writing, and talking every day, they get a message about what is valued in your classroom and they begin to develop their own values," (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). 

Building a literacy community in your classroom takes a lot of thought and effort, but the payoff is worth it. "In a sense, the classroom is a sheltered environment within a noisy world where everything interferes with high-level intellectual discourse and time for reading and writing. But in these short years students have a chance to live a literate life that expands their empathy, curiosity, and competencies. Literacy is their job," (Fountas and Pinnell, 2017). 

~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

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/