Blog

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 19. 2017

Guided Reading Twitter Chat with Fountas and Pinnell, Part 2 from 1/12/2017

On Thursday, January 12th, authors Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted part two of a Twitter chat on Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition. People from all over the country logged in to discuss important topics such as, how teachers make decisions about what is important to teach for at each guided reading level, and how an effective book introduction can unlock a text for students in a guided reading lesson. Teachers tweeted about how the use of instructional level texts within guided reading challenges and advances the reading power of students, while Fountas and Pinnell offered words of advice and encouragement such as, "A level is not a score; it stands for a set of behaviors that teachers can observe for evidence of, teach for, and reinforce at every level readers."

To read the whole chat, click the link below. And mark your calendars to log in on Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 8 p.m. (EST) as we begin an exciting chat series on Fountas & Pinnell Classroom—our forthcoming classroom-based literacy system. 


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/ 

January 6. 2017

Fountas & Pinnell Online Resources: What they are and how to find them


Whether you're a new user of Fountas and Pinnell materials or a current user, you most likely need to access the Fountas & Pinnell Online Resources. We recently updated our website, so things have changed a bit. In case you're having trouble gaining access or finding the Online Resources, here's a little how-to.

What are the Fountas & Pinnell Online Resources?

The Fountas & Pinnell Online Resources is a repository of printable resources, record keeping forms, videos, and more that are referenced in various Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ products. Most of these resources may have been available through a CD-ROM at one point, but in order to meet the technological needs of our customers, it made sense to have them be accessible online. 

Where do I find the link to the Online Resources?

You can quickly find the link to the Online Resources here or you can go to www.fountasandpinnell.com and click on the "Visit other FPL sites" button on the top right-hand corner of the homepage (see image obove). The first item on that page will be the Online Resources. You will need to log in to gain access. If you don't have a login, you will need to register, which is free and easy.

How do I gain access to the Online Resources?

If you are a first-time user, you will need an access code once you are registered. You can find your access codes in different places depending on the product and edition. Some examples are: the inside front cover of your System Guides for LLI, Assessment Guides for BAS, or in the Introduction of Guided Reading. If you have one of the earlier editions of LLI or BAS that comes with the Technology Package and the physical CD-ROMs and DVDs, you will not have received an access code with the purchase of those systems. You can get an access code by contacting Heinemann Tech Support here or by calling 800-225-5800. You must have already purchased a product to acquire an access code to its Online Resources.

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 21. 2016

Season's Greetings from Fountas and Pinnell!

Happy Holidays!

The best part of the holiday season is acknowledging those who make our lives meaningful. We want to take the time to recognize your dedication to literacy education throughout the year, and for all you do to enhance the literacy lives of your students.

As 2016 draws to a close, we have been thinking about how important it is to celebrate the progress of our students and the growing expertise each of us has been able to achieve. This may be a time for our educator teams to recognize achievements and set new goals for 2017 so they are fresh for the New Year to start. We wish you all some time for reflection, renewal, special time with dear ones, and a world of good wishes this holiday season.

Warmest holiday wishes, 

Irene Fountas, Gay Su Pinnell and the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Team




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.

December 1. 2016

Thank you for putting the "U" in CommUnity! Celebrating 20k Members!


In August of this year we launched the online Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Community, and in three short months we have gained over 23,000 members and counting! Our members have come together from all over the world to share a common vision:to give children a chance to live a literate life that expands their empathy, curiosity, and competencies to become good global citizens.

We wouldn't be one of the fastest growing communities in the field of literacy education without you and we thank you for taking this journey with us to achieve substantial school-wide growth through a community of educators.

On behalf of Irene and Gay and the entire Fountas & Pinnell Literacy™ Community THANK YOU for your commitment to every child, every day. 

If you'd like to become a member of the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Community you can sign up for free at www.fountasandpinnell.com. The Community also extends to social media with an additional 60k members via Facebook and Twitter combined! If haven't already, you can like the Irene C. Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell Facebook page to receive important updates or event notifications. Or you can join the Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Learning Group where you can collaborate in real time with your peers. And if you're more of a Twitter person, you can follow @FountasPinnell.

November 25. 2016

A Level is a Teacher's Tool, NOT a Child's Label


It’s hard enough to be a kid. They have lots of things to worry about: parents, friends, sports, grades, etc. Reading can be an escape from those worries, just like it is for adults; it’s a way to relax and plunge yourself into someone else’s world for a little while.  But what happens when a child finds out that they’re not reading on the “same level” as the other children? What does that even mean to them? It’s not good, they know that. Reading has now become another worry to add to the pile of worries.

Trying to climb the “level ladder” is not what reading is about. It should be about enjoyment and discovery. Focusing too much on text levels can cause problems. Fountas and Pinnell created the F&P Text Level Gradient ™ to be used as a teacher’s tool for assessment and instruction. The levels aren’t meant to be shared with the children or parents.

Help Students Build Self-Esteem and Love of Reading

“It is detrimental to a student’s self-esteem and to their love of reading when they are encouraged to measure their own progress by ‘moving up levels,’” (Fountas and Pinnell 2017). Students should not use levels to compare themselves with others or to compete. This is counterintuitive to building a classroom community where each student is respected; has a sense of agency; values collaboration over competition; and grows up seeing themselves as literate. 

Make “Choice” Authentic

Telling students to choose by “level” is not an authentic way to select books to read independently. That isn’t how I choose a book as an adult. In fact, I really love reading high fantasy, young adult books with a romantic twist. Can I read War and Peace? Sure, but I devour those YA novels like candy and that’s what we want students to do: get them to a point where they need to read every day; they yearn for it. As much as possible, strive for them to choose books in a way that all readers do—books that interest and engage them.  

Advocate for the Appropriate Use of Levels in Your School

Fountas and Pinnell believe very strongly that students’ reading levels have no place in teacher evaluation or on report cards to be sent home to parents. Too much emphasis on levels can lead to misconceptions on the part of families. Informing parents of the level at which their child is reading can make them uneasy.  They may see the level as a very exact measurement, but students don’t always read at a precise level. Parents also talk with other parents, and if they find that their child is reading at a lower level than other children, they might panic. But they don’t understand the intricacies of how those levels work the way you do. 

Levels can be a resource for you and your colleagues to guide student choices for independent reading, but they should not be a limitation or a requirement. Leveled books are instructional tools for teachers who understand them—nothing more. Above all else, a level is a teacher’s tool, not a child’s label.

Jill Backman, Fountas & 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/

November 18. 2016

November Twitter Chat on Guided Reading, Second Edition, Part 1

On Thursday, November 17th, authors Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell hosted part one of a Twitter chat on Guided Reading: Responsive Teaching Across the Grades, Second Edition. People from all over the country logged in to discuss important topics such as, why observation and interpretation of students' literacy behaviors are so critical to high-impact teaching within guided reading. Teachers tweeted about how they use responsive teaching in their own classrooms to elevate their guided reading lessons, while Fountas and Pinnell offered words of advice and encouragement such as, "Instead of expecting students to be where you are, you have to bring the teaching to where they are."

To read the whole chat, click the link below. And mark your calendars to log in on Thursday, January 12, 2017 at 8 p.m. (EST) for part two of the Guided Reading Twitter chat with Fountas and Pinnell.