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April 26. 2018

Getting Kindergarteners to Level D

In 2012, as the result of ongoing data collection, changes were made to the recommended grade-level goals on the F&P Text Level Gradient™. Instead of kindergarteners completing the grade at an instructional level C the gradient shows them exiting at an instructional level D. Since this change, many kindergarten teachers struggle with how to meet this goal. But it’s important to know that it is possible! Below are some suggestions on how to accomplish this goal in practical ways that also instills an absolute joy of reading and writing.

A Literacy-Rich Day

Literacy should be woven through everything you do from the minute your children walk in the door. For example, as soon as children arrive for the day, they fall into a routine of finding and flipping over a name card in a pocket chart to indicate attendance. Then they sign their names in response to a question on a class-size piece of paper before going to an opening circle. The question and talk around the responses can then begin the opening circle. So just in walking in the door and getting to circle, children have been exposed to letters, sounds, opinions, writing of their names (letter formation), and talk supporting an opinion. 

Interactive Read-Aloud

Through interactive read-aloud, we teach children to think and share using books that not only instill joy but provoke conversation. We model for children how to use pictures to make predictions and connections, as well as infer how characters are feeling or what is motivating their actions. We also model language, language structures, and how to talk about books, scaffolding children who have limited language.

Shared Reading

In shared reading, we begin to show children how print works using books with enlarged text that have wonderful illustrations and language that pull the children in. These books are designed for children to be able to read them with support after having heard them read at least once. We bring attention to letters and sounds; concepts of print, such as left to right; phonological awareness with a focus on hearing rhymes, syllables, and words; and, later, focusing on individual sounds with attention to building a bank of high-frequency words and comprehension.

Shared and Interactive Writing

Shared and interactive writing should also be an important part of the daily routine. In shared writing, children see what it looks like to be a writer as they contribute to the thinking that goes on the page. This might be a shared experience or response to something read or a story the children are composing together. It can be as simple as a list of some kind or labeling of an illustration. You are writing out loud, saying what you are doing as you are doing it, and giving your children opportunities to choose words, practice language structures, and see and hear how letters are formed. 

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop will give children an opportunity to practice what you are doing in shared and interactive writing. And though it may begin with only drawing, it will build as they have daily lessons in writing through your shared and interactive writing.

Observation 

Your observations from all of this work will lead to differentiation in small-group work leading toward guided reading. In small group, you can differentiate with fun tasks and lessons in letter/sound correspondence, phonological awareness, letter formation, and, later, high-frequency words. You can even do small group shared reading for those who need more practice in a book previously used. 

Rely on the Resources 

We have to depend on the resources we have available in order to reach the goal of getting children to level D. The most important resource we can use is The Literacy Continuum. Through using this valuable resource on a daily basis we can truly understand the many stepping stones that lead to the goal of level D. Become familiar with the goals of text levels A–D. Read the snapshots carefully at the beginning of each level description. Note the characteristics that change from level to level. 

Other valuable resources include Literacy's Beginnings, which is a wonderful text that describes what a literacy-rich kindergarten classroom looks and sounds like, and the new Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Kindergarten System, which includes materials to support teachers and administrators in providing a literacy-rich kindergarten appropriate to the 21st century.

We still have many young children entering kindergarten with no literacy knowledge, but that doesn’t mean they are struggling or that learning will be hard for them. It often means they haven’t had the opportunity. We have to provide those opportunities with a goal of kindergarten being fun but embedding learning within the fun and making every minute count.

Read HERE about the rationale behind the changes to the F&P Text Level Gradient™.  

~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/ 

March 29. 2018

Lift Your Professional Learning with Multi-Day Institutes

Materials themselves help teachers grow professionally, but alongside that teachers need good professional learning opportunities. Professional learning makes the work come alive. Each year, educators from around the world join Irene C. Fountas, Gay Su Pinnell, and their consultants, in multi-day professional learning institutes, and leave with new energy and understanding that will inform their teaching all year. 

Below are some of the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™-focused multi-day institutes that Heinemann offers along with information about what can be gained from these fulfilling professional learning opportunities. Not only are you expanding your learning, but you will also enjoy a night on the town in some of the best places to visit in the country with either colleagues who have joined you or new friends you've made during the day!

Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™, Grades PreK–3, “Create a Coherent Vision for Literacy Learning: Getting Started with Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™,” presented by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell

May 21 – 24, Dallas, TX *Early-bird rate ends soon, so register now!

In this interactive four-day institute, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell will present their vision to lift students' literacy learning through authentic experiences in reading, thinking, talking, and writing using Fountas & Pinnell Classroom, a first-of-its-kind, cohesive system for high-quality classroom-based literacy instruction.

Throughout this intensive institute, Fountas and Pinnell will show how each whole-group, small-group, and individual instructional context within Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ work together to develop coherence in the literacy learning of every student across the grades.

Built into each day will be an opportunity for administrators to have a breakout session with the authors to focus on administrator and leadership needs in implementing an ambitious vision for improving student outcomes. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Grades K–2, “Teaching Readers Who Struggle and Teaching Within LLI Lessons,” developed by Fountas and Pinnell, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants

April 23–24, Burlingame, CA

June 25–26, Schaumburg, IL

November 5–6, Philadelphia, PA 

In this two-day institute, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, participants will focus on understanding the reading and writing challenges of students who struggle with literacy learning and how to provide effective teaching to help those students using the LLI, K–2 lessons. Participants will be provided with a deep understanding of these systems and how they can best be implemented in the classroom. You’ll review excerpts of sample lessons and instructional routines used within the lessons, learn how to monitor students using technology, and gain insight into systematically observing reading and writing behaviors that inform teaching decisions. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Grades 3–12, “Intervening for Literacy Success with Intermediate, Middle, and Secondary Students,” developed by Fountas and Pinnell, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants

April 25–26, Burlingame, CA

June 27–28, Schaumburg, IL

November 7–8, Philadelphia, PA 

In this interactive two-day institute, presented by Fountas and Pinnell-trained consultants, participants will be provided with a deep understanding of the LLI, 3–12 system and how these lessons specifically meet the needs of struggling readers in those grades, and how to provide effective teaching within those lessons. Participants will learn how to code and analyze reading behaviors; gain scheduling and student grouping guidance; as well as how to use teacher language to support students’ sustained attention and comprehension of texts. For more information, including pricing and a full agenda, click HERE.

Fountas and Pinnell favor embracing the open door and becoming part of a learning community of colleagues—all of whom share common goals, take risks, and find the rewards of continuous professional growth. This takes time and problem solving but if achieved, it will have big payoff for students.

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/


March 23. 2018

FAQ Friday: Which LLI System Should I Use?

Q: Which Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) should I use?

A: There are seven systems that make up LLI and span grades K through 12.

Primary Systems:

  • Orange System: levels A through E
  • Green System: levels A through K
  • Blue System: levels C through N

Intermediate Systems:

  • Red System: levels L through Q
  • Gold System: levels O through T

Middle/High School Systems:

  • Purple System: levels R through W
  • Teal System: level U through Z

There are specific Lesson Guides for each LLI System, and the systems are coordinated with the grade levels at which they will most likely be used; however, educators may make other decisions as they work to match the program to the needs of particular readers. The systems overlap in levels, but books and lessons for each system are unique, with no overlap of titles or lessons.

The LLI books have been written specifically for the intervention system. Written by children's authors and illustrated by high-quality artists, they are designed to provide engaging, age-appropriate material while at the same time offering increasingly sophisticated learning opportunities so that students can build a reading process over time.

March 15. 2018

Struggling Readers Need Intervention. They Need LLI.

It is midway through the year, and by now you might be observing that some of your students are falling behind their peers in reading. Even with many high-quality literacy opportunities, some students struggle with literacy learning and need intervention to get them back on track. The goal of Fountas & Pinnell’s Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is to give students the boost they need to read at the same level as their peers and fully benefit from classroom instruction.

What is LLI?

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.

How does LLI work?

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 using original, authentic, high-quality books, 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. The goals of each lesson are taken from The Literacy Continuum—a must-have tool when using LLI because not only are the goals derived from there, but you can refer to it to determine where to take your students next. With these goals in mind, students effectively engage in the reading and writing process every day.

Does LLI work?

Recently the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has reviewed the research on LLI, finding positive impacts on general reading achievement for students in grades K–2. These findings are based on two independent, empirical studies conducted by The University of Memphis's Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP).

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. For the greatest impact in short-term intervention, we recommend a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:3, 30 minutes per day for children in grades K–2 and a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:4, 45 minutes per day for students in grades 3–12. For the systems used in grades K–2, we estimate that success will be evident in 14 to 18 weeks, and 18 to 24+ weeks for the systems in 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.

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.

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/
February 27. 2018

Teacher Tip: How to Use The Literacy Continuum with Leveled Literacy Intervention

At the end of each level in the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) Lesson Guides, you will find pages from The Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Continuum: A Tool for Assessment, Planning, and Teaching to help monitor progress and guide your teaching. It lists specific behaviors and understandings that are required for children to read successfully at that level. These behaviors and understandings are accumulative across the levels. They include important competencies children need to think within, beyond, and about texts. In other words, children take on new demands as the texts grow more challenging.

The LLI lessons are designed to support the goals listed in The Literacy Continuum. Your goal should be to help children meet the demands of successive levels of text and, in the process, expand their systems of strategic actions. The following suggestions may contribute to effective teaching in your lessons:

  • In advance of the lesson, read the new book with The Literacy Continuum goals in mind. 
  • Think about what your children can do, and then find behaviors and understandings that they control, partially control, or do not yet control. 
  • Read the introduction to the text and teaching points for the lesson, keeping in mind the processing needs of the readers. Make any adjustments you think are necessary to meet their needs. 
  • Look at the Phonics/Word Work and at the additional suggestions provided on The Literacy Continuum pages, and make any adjustments you feel are necessary for your group. 
  • As you near the end of a level, look at what the readers now control and what they need to know to successfully process texts at this level. 
  • As the readers grow more proficient and reading becomes easy at the level, look ahead to the The Literacy Continuum pages for the next higher level. You may find new understandings or more complex versions of the same understandings.
From Leveled Literacy Intervention Orange System Guide, Second Edition by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (C) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.
January 23. 2018

3 Tips for Forming LLI Groups

When forming LLI groups, children do not always fall neatly into just the right number of groups. After all, they are individuals who cannot be defined by “reading level.” You will probably have to do some problem-solving when you begin to group children. Your goal is to group the children so that the level of instruction will be appropriate for all of them. Our recommendation is to start the group at a text level that allows every child to begin with success. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make some “one level” compromises. Three children whose instructional levels are B, B, and C, for example, may be able to read together and benefit from the intervention lessons starting at level B. 
  • If you are working alongside a teacher in a classroom, make arrangements for a child from the neighboring classroom to join the group you are teaching. 
  • Take children at the same level from different classrooms (but be sure that it doesn’t take too much time to assemble them in the space you are teaching). 

Your priority should be to group children efficiently and effectively so that you can teach them at the appropriate level.

From LLI Orange System Guide by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Copyright (c) 2017 by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell. Published by Heinemann.

January 19. 2018

FAQ Friday: How Long is Leveled Literacy Intervention?

Q: How Long is Leveled Literacy Intervention?

A: Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is a short-term program designed to bring children up to grade-level performance:

Instructional Features of the LLI Systems

LLI Primary systems: 12–18 weeks of explicit, direct instruction 30-minutes a day, 5 days a week. Recommended teacher-to-student ratio of 1:3. Systematic intensive work in phonemic awareness, letters, and phonics. 

LLI Intermediate systems: 18–24 weeks of explicit, direct instruction 45-minutes a day, 5 days a week. Recommended teacher-to-student ratio of 1:4. 36 Novel Study lesson for sustained reading of longer texts. 24 Optional Test Prep lessons. 

LLI Middle/High School systems: 18–24+ weeks of explicit, direct instruction 45-minutes a day, 5 days a week. Recommended teacher-to-student ratio of 1:4. 36 Novel Study lesson for sustained reading of longer texts. 24 Optional Test Prep lessons.

December 7. 2017

Early Intervention Leads to Long-Term Success


Over the past few months you’ve been engaging your kindergarten students in rich literacy opportunities, including interactive read-aloud, shared reading, interactive writing, and writing workshop. You're starting to see how they're progressing so far on their short literacy journey. But you might find that some of your young readers are struggling. Is it too early to start intervention? Definitely not. More...