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

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