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/ 

December 13. 2016

Help Students Make Good Reading Choices: A Teacher Tip from Fountas and Pinnell on Independent Reading

Your role in independent reading is to ensure that students consistently select books they can read with understanding and fluency, and to have conversations with them about those books. You may be tempted to prescribe book choices, but this can result in a mechanical approach to reading as a “task.” Without genuine choice they will never experience the authentic role of a reader. At the same time, the ability to choose appropriate books is not something you can expect students to know how to do. It is something you need to teach. Communicate to students that choosing a just-right book, not a difficult book, is the expectation for independent reading. 

Teach students these 7 ways of judging a book choice:
Decide if the book is just right to read independently by reading a little at the beginning or middle
Think about the topic of the book to see if it peaks your interest
Read a bit of the book to get a feel for the author’s style and the language
Ask peers/teachers for recommendations
Look at the book cover, back cover, book flaps and illustrations
Think about the author and what you may already know about the author
Give the book a good chance.

Excerpted from LLI Red System Choice Library Guide to Independent Reading

December 12. 2016

Are students meant to keep the LLI take-home books?


There has been much buzz on social media and the discussion board lately on whether or not the black-and-white take-home books in the Leveled Literacy Intervention systems for grades K-2 are meant for the students to keep. The short answer to that is: yes! It's understandable that some educators may feel uncomfortable letting the students keep the books because finding the money to replace them isn't easy. But it's important to understand why it's a crucial part of a struggling reader's path to meeting expectations and--more importantly--loving to read!   

Why is it important for students to keep the books?

There are three main reasons for the students to be able to keep the books:

  • Practice! Just like with cooking or playing an instrument: you get better with practice. It is as important for students who are struggling with reading to practice at home as it is in the classroom. The LLI books that the students are working with during lessons are ones that are on their current reading level, which they might not have at home. This way, you can guarantee they have access to high-quality books that they can read independently with confidence when they're away from the classroom.
  • Reading with family. Students in LLI are proud to be able to bring home a book that they can read well to share with family members. This way, family members can see what they're reading and be able to engage them in a conversation about it, and read it with them. Some students also like to show off their reading skills to younger siblings! It builds confidence that needs to extend beyond the classroom.
  • Building an at-home library. If they’re able to keep the books, students can both practice independently or with family members every night, and also be able to revisit a favorite book whenever they want. They need more than one night with the book at home in order to practice as much as they need, or be able to share sufficiently with family members. There's even a place on on the back of the books for the students to write their names, which makes it their own. And who doesn't love the books they've collected?!

Our school can't afford to keep replacing the books.

Some LLI users send the books home with the students, but then require that they bring them back. They're reluctant to let students keep the books because the thought of finding the money to replace them can seem daunting or impossible. But there are options out there! We encourage you to meet with your administrators and be creative about finding funds to replace these books. Some funding requires that a percentage of the money given to schools be spent on family resources, which would include the take-home books. Or there may be a local organization that might have an available grant, or who might be looking to donate money to schools. You could even have an annual bake sale to raise money for replenishing the books! Volume reading is so important for our students who are struggling, so try to really do the research and explore all the options.

Currently, Heinemann is running a promotion for these take-home books. You can find the link here, and apply the promo code, LITTLE, to get discounts on the books. Heinemann also offers grant assistance to help educators who are looking to purchase Heinemann Curricular or Intervention Resources but do not have the funding available to do so.

~The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy 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/ 

December 8. 2016

Ask Meli!

For those who don't know her, Meli is Irene Fountas's dog who has been featured in a series of leveled books from the Leveled Literacy Intervention System. Over the years, she has become a beloved icon for students and teachers working with LLI. Many classrooms have even sent in fan mail! This is the first in a series of blogs where Meli is taking time out from her busy schedule of chasing squirrels, barking at birds, and napping to answer some of your questions. But first, here's a recent Q & A to help you get to know her a little better.

Q: How do you pronounce your name, Meli?

: It is pronounced Mell-ee, like the word "belly" or "smelly!"

Q: Are you a male or a female dog?

: I am a female dog.

Q: What kind of dog are you?

: I am a West Highland White Terrier, also known as a "Westie" for short. My ancestors originally came all the way from Scotland!

Q: How old are you?

: I just turned 11 years old.

Q:  Who do you live with and where?

: I live with my owner, Irene Fountas. We live in Massachusetts where it's starting to get cold and soon the snow will come. I love to run around in the snow! 

Q: What is your favorite treat?

: There isn't much I don't like to eat, but my favorite treat is cantaloupe! 

Q: Are you also the dog in the Sam and Jessie books from LLI?

: Yes, that's me! It's a cartoon version of me.

Meli has received many letters from her fans, so she will take time each month to answer her letters here on www.fountasandpinnell.com. If you have any questions for Meil you can send letters to Meli c/o The Fountas & Pinnell Team, 361 Hanover St., Portsmouth, NH 03801. You can also post questions on the Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell Facebook page, or submit questions via Twitter @FountasPinnell with the hashtag #FPAskMeli.

October 5. 2016

What is LLI?


Even with many high-quality literacy opportunities, some students struggle with literacy learning. An intervention system gets them back on track so they can benefit fully from classroom instruction. Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy System (LLI) is a literacy intervention system for students who find reading and writing difficult. Its goal is to give students the boost they need to read at the same level as their peers.

Who is LLI for?

LLI is a rigorous, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention system for students who are not achieving grade-level expectations in reading and writing, and are not receiving another form of literacy intervention. The LLI systems are designed to bring students from the earliest level A (kindergarten level) to level Z, which represents the competencies needed at a middle and high school level.

LLI is based on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. Each level of text makes increasing demands on the reader, but the demands and resulting changes are gradual. By actively participating in intensive lessons on each level, readers have the opportunity to expand their reading and writing abilities. With the support of instruction, they stretch themselves to read more complex texts with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension—and to write with more complexity. With these goals in mind, students effectively engage in the reading and writing process every day, (Fountas and Pinnell 2012).

How does LLI work?

We use the term leveled because leveled books are a key component in helping students become competent readers and accessing texts of increasing complexity. Each book is carefully designed, analyzed, and sequenced to provide enough support and a small amount of challenge so the reader can learn on the text and make small steps towards grade-level goals.

When readers struggle, there is a critical need for highly effective, small-group intervention to get them back on track as soon as possible. There are some basic implementation principles that are essential if the intervention is expected to work effectively, (Fountas and Pinnell 2012).

We want interventions to be short term and intensive, with flexible entry and exit points so that individual needs may be accommodated in a small-group situation. If the intervention is early and effective, then the length will be shorter; however, students who are far behind may need a year or more of effective supplementary instruction. The layers of intervention should be flexible enough that the teacher can group and regroup students.

Lessons must be supplemental to good classroom instruction; it is the combination of high-quality classroom teaching and intensive small-group intervention lessons that enable learners to make accelerated progress, catch up with their peers, and continue to perform at expected levels for the grade.

How long does LLI take?

Lessons must be frequent—five days a week is preferred—so that readers can gain and sustain momentum and acceleration is possible. And, the teacher-to-student ratio must be as low as possible. For the greatest impact in short-term intervention, we recommend a ratio of 1:3 for children performing at earlier levels (kindergarten, grades 1 and 2) and 1:4 for students performing at higher levels (grades 3–12).

Who administers LLI?

Providing excellent intervention lessons depends on the expertise of teachers. The teachers of struggling readers and writers should be exceptionally skilled in systematic observation, in the assessment of reading behaviors, and in teaching for the range of strategic actions that proficient readers use. All teachers of struggling readers (classroom and intervention teachers) need opportunities to continually increase their understanding of the reading and writing processes and the behavioral evidence that reveals competencies. The expert intervention teacher is able to make effective decisions that meet the diverse needs of students.

Excellent communication and teamwork among all who have a role in supporting the students’ progress are required for an intervention to help individual students. Students’ families need to know the goals of the intervention as well as what students will be expected to do for homework. Good communication between classroom and intervention teachers is essential so that they are working toward the same goals. It is critical to have a shared set of curriculum goals like those detailed in The Literacy Continuum, LLI is built on the foundation of the descriptions of text characteristics and strategic actions described for each level, A to Z, in this comprehensive tool, (Fountas and Pinnell 2012).

Finally…

When basic implementation requirements are in place, we need to dig deeper into research on literacy learning and reading difficulties to inform the design of teaching. What happens in the intervention must affect change. Many struggling students sit in daily 30- to 45-minute intervention lessons, yet little improvement is evident in what they are able to do independently.

Remember that progress is not enough; struggling readers need to make faster progress than their peers, and that is the whole purpose of intervention. They may be disengaged or bored. They may work diligently at mechanical tasks that they do not connect in a lively way to real reading and writing. To be effective, the intervention lessons must incorporate everything we know about what students need to learn, especially those who are experiencing difficultly.

Stephanie Tucker, 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 

Join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Facebook Learning Group for more collaborative conversation at https://www.facebook.com/groups/FountasPinnell/ 

References:

Leveled Literacy Intervention System Guide. © 2012 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.