Is Leveled Literacy Intervention Really a Scripted System?

We are sometimes asked whether Leveled Literacy Intervention is a scripted teaching system.

Here is an example of the type of question we occasionally recieve about this topic.

"If research shows that what really matters is highly effective, educated teachers who are able to make teaching decisions based on his/her students’ needs, why would you create a scripted curriculum in a box? I understand the district’s decision to purchase a boxed curriculum. It’s less expensive than teaching the teacher, but with your Reading Recovery knowledge

I don’t understand why you would create it. Why must LLI teachers even conduct a running record or "reading record" when their next books and word work activities are already planned for them."

We consider Leveled Literacy Intervention neither a “scripted“ nor “boxed” system, but a comprehensive system for supporting teachers’ decision making when working with a small group. In our experience, Reading Recovery teachers have found the system to be very useful as designing a lesson for one child is very different from working with a small group. In fact, many have sent feedback indicating that they have appreciated having a starting point and tools to get started.

You will see as we have written on the blog elsewhere, we do not consider the LLI lesson a script, but a framework of suggested considerations and routines. Teachers learn more and more about how to make better decisions by noticing children. We hope you will have the opportunity to read the System Guide where you will learn that teachers can skip books at a level, focusing on the behaviors they notice, they tailor the suggestions to fit the children they teach, regrouping children as needed, customizing the cards and games with the Lesson Resources CD-ROM etc. They select appropriate language to use with their students from the Prompting Guide and use The Continuum of Literacy Learning to guide their teaching. Reading Recovery teachers have been especially positive as they see that LLI is a system that supports the very principles you describe and is a wonderful complement to their Reading Recovery teaching. We hope you get a chance to talk with more teachers who have had professional development in LLI so they can share with you how the system is intended to be used. As with all materials and professional resources, a teacher must bring thoughtfulness to decision-making. You should know that Heinemann provides both onsite and offsite professional development services to support LLI teachers at all levels.

We discussed the notion of scripted lessons in LLI at greater length in our forum.

We hope this helps clarify any misconceptions you may have about the Leveled Literacy Intervention System.


Best regards,

-Gay & Irene

Getting Started Lessons for Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)

Here is a recent question about the Getting Started lessons from a Title I teacher who is implementing Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) this year:

I have a question regarding your LLI lessons - which we just purchased and absolutely love by the way! The Getting Started lessons (1 - 10) move quickly in terms of reading levels. However, once you hit lesson 11, it drops back to level A.

I have looked everyone and can't find out any information regarding this. Should we be starting every student in the Getting Started lessons and then jump them to their appropriate reading level? Do we start every student in the Getting Started and then continue them onto 11, 12, 13, etc...regardless of their level? Or do we skip the Getting Started lessons and jump to their reading level lesson? I guess we are just a little confused about the Getting Started lessons.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration with this question. I also wanted to let you know that we use your resources greatly in our schools and have much success with them.

Thanks again!

- Paul

Hi Paul,

The Getting Started lessons were designed to help the children, who have been struggling and are probably passive, become active, engaged learners and to build a foundation of early reading and writing behaviors. These 10 lessons also establish the routines of the lessons for the students. For the teacher, it is a time to closely observe students strengths and to engage them in conversations about their reading. The Green System is primarily for first grade, so at the beginning of the year you would probably start all of your first graders with the Getting Started lessons. If you have first graders that are at a Level F or G at the beginning of the year, they probably don't need an intervention and will progress with good classroom instruction.

In the middle of the first grade or at the end of first grade, you will probably make different decisions about the Getting Started lessons because you will be taking students into LLI at higher reading levels and will start where the students are in lessons. You will still want to keep in mind the purpose of the Getting Started lessons as you start with this round of students. However, you will start where the children are (their assessment level).

We hope this helps!

~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

Questions about Fountas and Pinnell Teaching Systems

This back-to-school season the Fountas & Pinnell Forum at has received a swarm of implementation questions for Leveled Literacy Intervention, the Benchmark Assessment System, and other Fountas and Pinnell teaching systems such as The Continuum of Literacy Learning. Below are some of the top questions we have received and answers to help you start the new school year right!

As always, we welcome and appreciate your feedback and questions! You can post your questions to the Fountas & Pinnell Community of educators by using the "Forums" link at the top of our blog, or just click here to see a list of all the conversation threads in our forums.


Forum Questions about Fountas & Pinnell teaching systems

Benchmark Assessment System - 1st Edition vs 2nd Edition
Question: What are the differences between the two kits? Are the passages the same?

Answer: This page summarizes the changes between the first and second editions of Benchmark: Overall they are largely the same; the 2nd edition provides enhancements for ease of use (improved Assessment Guide format) and information on working with specific student populations (ELL, Special Education - for example). No new little books have been added, but slight adjustments have been made to the running word counts in the upper-level nonfiction books.  The Pre-K Continuum has also been added.

If you are transitioning from the old Benchmark edition to the new one, you can order a BAS 2nd Edition Compatibility Package. If you do not plan to implement the 2nd Edition alongside the 1st Edition you do not need this package. We recommend that you continue to use your system as you do now. If you plan to use the 2nd Edition system alongside the 1st Edition, the package will allow you to have consistency across systems. We recommend that you request the Compatibility Pack.

Progressing through Benchmark Assessment levels:

I have a second grade group who has all had Reading Recovery and did not progress. They Benchmarked at level D and have gone through the 10 green lessons with average of 93% accuracy. When we moved to level E this week, they scored in the 83% range on the first Running Record. Because I worked with them so intensely, I have a feeling that when their time comes up to be tested, they will need additional special education services. My question is: "Should I progress through level E or do the level D in the blue system so they can be successful?" Your thoughts, please??

Answer: You are on the right track with wanting your second graders to be successful. Children need success to learn. Perhaps more time reading at Level D from the Blue System would be beneficial. You could also try more Level E books and increase your level of support in the introductions and their first reading of the new book.

It would be helpful to do another study of their reading records from the 10 green lessons to see if there are any patterns emerging and compare your findings with how readers are processing text in the Continuum of Literacy Learning at Level D. The introductory paragraph to Level D gives important information about readers at this level (not to be missed).

Also, as you examine the reading records over the last ten lessons, go through the behaviors and understandings to notice, teach and support that are listed in the Continuum with this group in mind. Have you analyzed these reading records with a colleague? Sometimes having several people interpret and discuss the reading records sheds more light and gives new direction for your teaching. How much are these second graders reading when they are not with you? They need increased time with easy book.

Question: We are testing students using the Benchmark system in grades 1 and 2. Many of the students scores are falling below 90% at the Level A. Where do we start with them? Are we able to use the LLI with them? If so, what level do we start on?

Answer: Yes - you could use the Orange System of LLI for your students who are reading below A and start at the beginning of the System because you will be reading to them and with them before you ask them to read a text by themselves. This support will help them read Level A texts independently.


Teaching phonics for kindergarten:
I am wondering if anyone uses the Phonics Lessons in their Kindergarten, Gr.1, or Gr. 2 classroom...I am teaching a K-2 class and am trying to choose a Phonics/Spelling program and am wondering if you have found it comprehensive enough to teach sight words, spelling and phonics?

Answer: The Fountas and Pinnell Phonics and Word Study Lessons Grades K-3 is a comprehensive series of lessons for phonics and word study that is based on research and how children learn. It is designed on a continuum of knowledge that includes nine areas of learning: Early Literacy Concepts, Phonological and Phonemic Awareness, Letter Knowledge, Letter/Sound Relationships, Spelling Pattersn, High-Frequency Words, Word Meaning, Word Structure, and Word-Solving Actions. will provide you with a program overview. Along with these Phonics and Word Study Lessons for K, 1, 2, and 3, there is a large amount of professional development built in to increase your knowledge of the linguistic systems, there is a direct connection to reading and writing, and there are built-in assessments that will provide you with data to inform your instruction. We are confident that you will find these lessons comprehensive enough to teach sight words, spelling and phonics.


Teaching balanced literacy, Reading Recovery, and special needs students:
Question: I am a reading intervention teacher and I have enjoyed using the LLI programs with my 1st and 2nd grade struggling readers this year I have seen much progress. My district has decided that pulling groups out of the classroom is a no-no and that coteaching is the way to go for next year. I am passionate about helping struggling readers learn to read and I don't feel they can be helped with a "hit-or-miss" approach. I think they need a daily, systematic, sequential program. From what we have been told with coteaching we are not to work with the same groups of children every day. I think this is a disservice to those struggling readers who feel so much success when they work with me. Do you have suggestions as to how I can provide help for these children under those conditions? It is breaking my heart that after only one year with LLI I will have to give it up, yet how can it be used when I will be in multiple classrooms and will not be allowed to have a set group each time?

Answer: Your district is setting up a completely different delivery design than the one suggested for LLI, so it is a problem. We believe skipping around to different groups and giving struggling readers only occasional help will not have instructional power and is not supported by research.

It is a little hard to understand exactly what will be happening. Will there be two teachers in the classroom at the same time for a morning or a day? Or, will you move from class to class taking groups? LLI has been very successfully used in a "corner" or small designated space in a classroom so that children do not leave. It seems a major challenge you have is in providing a sequence of lessons that allow children to build momentum. You might try to make a case for the most struggling readers to have at least four lessons per week (realizing that you will not get the acceleration possible with five lessons) With two teachers present, you would be able to allow 30 minutes. Perhaps you could present your administrator with a systematic plan that allows for you to do the co-teaching they want and at the same time work intensively with one or two groups. It will be very important to collect student data and analyze it.

If all of this fails, be sure to gather your results from this year and prepare a concise written report that also includes how you implemented LLI.
This is a responsible thing to do in any case and you will have a written record that you can come back to as you evaluate results for next year. We hope this helps. Let us know how it is going.


Question: I would like to know more about why this reading program is not designed for students w/ dyslexia. Is it designed for students w/ language learning disabilities? Thanks. Is any part of the Fountas Pinnell reading program specifically designed for dyslexia/language learning disabled children?

Answer: Although Fountas & Pinnell programs such as BAS and LLI are not specifically designed for students with autism/dyslexia or other learning disabilities, many people do use them in such circumstances. (see this forum thread for an example). Some research has been done on using guided reading with autistic children (this article, for example), but for the most part the programs are used in regular education classrooms. While many people use Fountas & Pinnell guided reading programs for special needs students, there hasn't yet been a large-scale study on this topic, and the programs themselves are not specifically designed for special needs populations.

All evidence available at this time indicates that the instructional principles of guided reading are appropriate for use with special needs students, and this is something that Fountas & Pinnell hope to address more closely in their upcoming work.

Here are a few more articles that you might find helpful:
Supporting Literacy With Guided Reading
Strategies for Teaching Reading to Visual Learners
The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) also has several articles on using guided reading with special needs students, but many of them are available to members only.


Question: I teach kindergarten through second grade special education (mostly LD and cognitive disabilities) in a large urban midwest city. I am also lucky to be trained in Reading Recovery, although our district dropped the program several years ago. I read When Readers Struggle this summer, and I am going to use the LLI lesson format using any materials I can find. I am also writing a grant to purchase at least the BAS and the first grade LLI kit, since we have less than no money for materials. If I get the grant, I'll have to collect a lot of data, and I will be happy to share my results with you. Do you have any advice on how I can make it clear in the grant that LLI will help support my instruction more than my dwindling collection of Reading Recovery books?

Answer: At under the Fountas and Pinnell tab, in the right hand column, you will see Research and Data Collection. You will find the research and data for both the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems and the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention. There is valuable information that will help you with your grant writing.


Using Leveled Literacy Intervention in conjunction with DRA reading levels:
Question: My school ordered the blue system in the LLI. I read that that system is primarily for second grade and above. However, I teach first grade. Students who are on a DRA 3 and below are pulled to participate in the LLI-blue system. I love using the LLI, but I didn't know if my students would be more successful using the green system than the blue. Is there much of a difference?

Answer: The Green System is for Levels A though J – designed for 1st Grade

The Blue System is for Levels C through N – designed for 2nd/3rd Grade

The LLI systems are coordinated with the grade levels and the books were written to coordinate with the different age levels. The Green System has a series of 10 Getting Started lessons that children reading a C or below need before starting into lessons. Another difference would be the phonics lessons which are systematic and explicit. You may see a difference with the needs of your first graders and the Phonics portion of the lessons in the Blue System. The Green System will be more appropriate for struggling first graders. You will have to make your decisions for teaching based on the observation of your groups of LLI children rather than following the guide in the Blue System. If you could have the Green System, you would have a wider range of options.


Organization and management of classroom materials:
Question: I am using the green kit with 2 groups and the blue kit with 3 groups as a Title 1 Reading Specialist. Two of my groups I walk to, carrying materials. I find it difficult to carry the manuals and to keep switching manuals between groups. To solve that I resorted to copying the manual pages for each group so I just carry the pages needed and each group has the manual pages with their daily materials. Does anyone have a better solution than copying the whole manual? Is there a possibility that the manuals would be on CD so that they could be printed as needed for a group?

Answer: The teachers in our building who teach multilevel LLI groups pull a cart on wheels, purchased from Staples or some other office store. That way, it is easy for them to also have all of the LLI materials, books, etc that they need right with them. They pack them up at the end of every day so they are ready in the morning.


Question: I am getting things ready for this school year. Does anyone have a great way to organize all the materials for LLI? I have all three systems and need to keep things organized for multiple people to use. Please let me know how you have organized your materials.

Answer: Until districts have the funds to purchase more systems, they have tried several ways to organize their materials to share with others.

The districts that have a book room designate a section for their LLI books and materials. They keep the books (and they had to purchase extra copies of books because they could not predict when two teachers might have a group on the same lesson) organized by Lesson number on their bookshelves. They have a checkout system for the LLI books similar to the one they use for their Guided Reading books. They have 3 ring binders containing plastic sleeves for each lesson that contain copies of reading records, parent letters, fold sheets, picture cards, word cards. . . whatever is needed for each lesson in a sleeve labeled with the lesson number (some lessons required several plastic sleeves since they have multiple copies of everything needed for the lesson). The binders are kept on the shelves with the books organized by Lesson number. They purchased Lesson Guides for each teacher and keep the Program Guide/DVD’s with the LLI books. They developed a system for replenishing materials needed for the lessons when the supply was down to the last two. The teachers decide whether they checkout materials for the week, a number of days at a time or daily.

Other districts had a similar system with file cabinets because they do not have the luxury of space in the book room. Rather than keep three ring binders of lesson materials in sleeves, the teachers made their own copies of materials for the lessons to keep in files in their rooms. They purchased copies of the Lesson Guides for each teacher.

Copernicus Educational Products is now offering three smart storage systems designed specifically for use with guided reading programs such as Leveled Literacy Intervention. They are all available on the Copernicus website, here:

There is also a video on TeacherTube about organizing a guided reading classroom - you might find some good tips her as well.


Leveled Literacy Intervention for upper elementary grades and middle school:
Question: I have heard that LLI kits will be created to extended into grades 3-5. If so, when will they be available?

Additionally, will the lessons differ from the current kits? (time, components of the lesson, comprehension)

I have used the blue kit with 3-5 students and have seen tremendous growth in my students' reading levels, confidence, and attitude toward reading. I would love to see the progress students would be able to make with materials matched to the grade level of the students!

Answer: Gay Su Pinnell and Irene Fountas posted an updated about the development of LLI for grades 3-8 on their blog. You can read the post here:

More updates on their progress will be posted as development of these new LLI levels progresses.


~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

Greetings from the Land Down Under!

As you may have noticed, recently we haven't been able to update our blog as much as we'd like to. This with good reason - we have been busy preparing for our first trip to Australia to promote our Continuum of Literacy Learning, Benchmark Assessment System, and Leveled Literacy Intervention programs.

Right now we are on our way to Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney to work with teachers and administrators on the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System. It is a grueling plane trip but exciting to meet teachers who are using the system down under! We will keep you posted.

A wonderful group of teachers from Tasmania will be coming over to the mainland for our workshop. First stop - Melbourne!


Best wishes,

Irene and Gay

Guided Reading Classroom Management Tips

It's back-to-school season, and many teachers will be teaching guided reading in their classrooms for the first time. Whether you work with just one guided reading group per day or have several that cycle through your classroom, these helpful classroom management tips from our Leveled Books Website will help you and your students stay organized and focused so that you can teach more effectively and help more students achieve the results that guided reading lessons are capable of producing.

Classroom management tips for teaching guided reading:

Managing Reading Lists:
Students in grade 2 and above are very capable of listing books they have read independently or with their guided reading group. Consider placing a form for listing books read in each student's reader's notebook so each student can keep track of his or her reading independently. Over the course of a year, your students will be able to see concrete evidence of their accomplishments. You will also have a good record of reading for assessment purposes.

Choosing Texts:
Select two or three texts at an appropriate level for each group. As you look through them, think about the strengths of your students and opportunities for learning. From the possible choices, you may decide to use one or more of the titles. This will help you think of the next few days of teaching and the sequence of texts you might want to use. Organize your possible choices on a cart with wheels that you can keep next to the table you use for your guided reading lessons.

Select Books at Least One Week in Advance:
Think about each of your groups. Review your observational notes and reading records to anticipate the text level that will be appropriate for the next few days. Review several titles at that level and select those that will provide the right amount of support and challenge—remember, the titles within a level have subtle differences. Place a rubber band around your selections for each group, or place them in sealable bags. Confirm your selections the day before you're going to use them.

Create an Attractive Classroom Library:
Think about how to organize the books in colorful baskets or bins. Place a label that clearly identifies books for the students. Use category titles such as Friendship or Survival. Consider organizing books by author such as Paulsen or genre such as folktales, short story collections, and historical fiction. Also think about creating baskets of series or award-winning books.

Organized Your Leveled Books in Boxes or Baskets:
Your collection of guided reading books needs to be arranged for easy access close to the table you use for lessons. Teach the students not to select books from your collection for independent reading, but to select from the section of the room that features the classroom library.

Making Your Word Work More Efficient:
Keep your letters in small sealable bags or individual trays so you can simply hand them to the children. This will save time finding letters. you may want to jot the words you want to use in Word Work on a sticky notes so you know precisely what words you want to use as examples.

Prepare Efficient Text Introductions:
You must be ready to present thoughtful introductions to the texts you use. To prepare, read the text, keeping the particular group of readers in mind. On a sticky note, make brief notes, with accompanying page numbers, of the key words, phrases, or text characteristics you want to be sure to talk about and affix it to the front cover. These notes will guide your introductory conversation with the guided reading group and help you give an efficient, well-paced introduction.

Reading Longer Texts:
When students are reading longer texts, often teachers sample oral reading from several or all students and then move away from the table to confer with individuals or even begin another group. If you introduce the text and then ask students to go to their desks to read, you risk interruption of concentration. Letting them continue to read at the table helps them focus on the text and make the most of your introduction. Also, you may want to have them do some writing to help them remember what they want to discuss later. So, students may stay at the table as long as 30 minutes, but your teaching time is distributed among more children.

Managing Time in the Reading Workshop:
Teach students how to meet you at the table quickly for their guided reading lesson. Teach them to think about all the materials they'll need and to arrive at the table promptly and ready to start the lesson. Waiting for individuals to arrive or to return to their seats for materials wastes valuable time and will make it difficult for you to get to multiple groups during the reading workshop.

Managing Groups Efficiently:
You can manage several groups in a day. Think about introducing a text to one group and leaving them at the table to read silently. While they are reading, move to a second table at another corner of the room to work with another group. Return to your first group for the discussion and teaching points while your second group is reading. After finishing up with your second group, you may have time to meet with one more group for a lesson. When you plan the order of your lessons, consider the length of time students will need to read the book or section of the book.


Also see these helpful video clips on creating and organizing a guided reading classroom:

Update on Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) for Grades 3-8

Dear Colleagues,



Hot in Boston and hot in Columbus, but summer brings its own change of pace. Many of you have been asking about our development work on the new levels of Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) for upper grade students. The next colors will be red and gold, taking students from guided reading levels J through T, and are targeted for grades three and four. We hope to release these in about two years. The next two colors, purple and teal, will be for grades five and six through eight, though they will also be useful for high school students reading below grade level. The purple and teal colors will take students through level Z. The book authors are sending us wonderful, engaging fiction and nonfiction manuscripts to which we respond and suggest any revisions, and we get to select the illustrators for every book which is also very exciting! Our goal is to select books and art that interests students at upper grades who are reading at lower levels - which can be tricky.


Summary of Leveled Literacy Intervention for grades 3-8:
Red/Gold: Levels J-T, grades 3-4
Purple/Teal: Levels U-Z, grades 5-8 (and high school intervention)


It always takes a long time to go from original manuscripts instead of just using existing books, but we believe you will think it was well worth the effort and the wait! In the meantime, many of you have been using the LLI framework and selecting books beyond level N, and we hope that is working well for you.


We will keep you posted on our ongoing development of these programs. In the meantime we wish a very happy back-to-school season to each and every one of you!



Best regards,


Gay and Irene

Fountas and Pinnell Systems Named as Core Components of MA Reading Success Initiative

Fountas & Pinnell's Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) and the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) have been cited as essential reading and literacy intervention components of an initiative to improve student reading proficiency in Springfield, MA. The Turing The Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success initiative, which is led by the Cherish Every Child initiative of the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation, is defined in "Reading Success by 4th Grade: A Blueprint for Springfield" (.pdf). The Springfield school district activities are just a part of a statewide initiative to improve children's language and literacy development in Massachusetts.

Beginning in the fall of 2009, the Benchmark Assessment System was implemented for students in grades K-5. Springfield Public Schools utilize the system because it "provides teachers with detailed, quantifiable assessment of reading comprehension so they can differentiate instruction in small guided reading groups."

While BAS will be used to help evaluate the reading proficiency and comprehension ability of all students, the LLI program will be used primarily with under-performing readers in grades K-2.

During the summer of 2009, Springfield Public Schools [SPS] received a Title One Redesign and Restructuring Grant: Innovation Through Summer Semester Program from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. SPS used the grant resources to pilot the Leveled Literacy Intervention strategy for under-performing children who were entering the first and second grades at the Frederick Harris School. After participating in jjst one half-hour per day of LLI for five weeks, 37% of students made gains of one reading level, 41% made gains of two or more reading levels and 19% maintained their reading level. As a result of these gains over a short period of time, the district added LLI as a Tier 2 intervention. Beginning in fall 2010, every elementary school will have one of each of the three leveles of LLI kits and a minimum of one staff member per building will have LLI training.

The Turing The Page initiative aims to "Increase the quality of children's language and reading environments across the many settings in which they are growing up, from birth to age 9." Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention and Benchmark Assessment System are sure to be an integral part of this important literacy education initiative for many years to come.

Evaluating a Student's Reading Level for Placement within LLI

As back-to-school season approaches we thought it would be helpful to share some information for teachers who are just starting to use Leveled Literacy Intervention. There are, of course, many different options for evaluating and assessing student reading levels and proficiency, but using guided reading running/reading records is essential for placing students at the correct instructional level within LLI.  In order to identify the appropriate placement level for students in the Leveled Literacy Intervention system, you will need to use a text reading assessment. We recommend the Benchmark Assessment System as it directly correlates with Leveled Literacy Intervention; however, you may also use other leveled books to conduct running/reading records. The criteria below can serve as a guideline in determining students' reading levels and ultimately their placement in LLI.

Fountas & Pinnell Criteria for Instructional Level Reading
At levels A-K:

90-94% accuracy with excellent or satisfactory comprehension or 95-100% accuracy with limited comprehension.
At levels L-Z:
95-97% accuracy with excellent or satisfactory comprehension or 98-100% accuracy with limited comprehension.

Fountas & Pinnell Criteria for Independent Level Reading
At levels A-K:
95-100% accuracy with excellent or satisfactory comprehension.
At levels L-Z:
98-100% accuracy with excellent or satisfactory comprehension.

Fountas & Pinnell Criteria for Hard Level Reading
At levels A-K:
Below 90% accuracy with any comprehension score.
At levels L-Z:
Below 95% accuracy with any comprehension score.

Comparing Guided Reading and Leveled Literacy Intervention

We are often asked to describe the differences and similarities between Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) and Guided Reading. While guided reading is an essential element of the instruction presented in LLI, the program itself is not a "Guided Reading program" because of the instructional contexts it is used in. Both Guided Reading and Leveled Literacy Intervention provide reading instruction with an emphasis on language learning, but they differ in the following ways:


General Context: Instruction with emphasis on language learning
Guided reading:
Guided reading is one component of a comprehensive language and literacy framework for instruction. Across many contexts, students receive instruction in reading comprehension, phonics/word study, and writing. Guided reading specifically helps students develop proficient systems for strategic actions for reading.

LLI: Leveled Literacy Intervention is a systematically designed, sequenced, short, supplementary lesson that builds on high-quality classroom instruction. It includes reading, phonics, and writing about reading. LLI offers intensive instruction to help struggling readers develop proficient systems of strategic actions for reading.


Instructional purpose:
Guided reading:
Differentiated classroom instruction

LLI: Supplementary literacy intervention


Students served:
Guided reading:
All students

LLI: Readers who are having difficulty and are reading below grade level


Student grouping:
Guided reading:
Small group instruction - usually 4 to 8 students. Students are placed in groups because they have similar instructional levels.

LLI: Small group instruction - 3 to a maximum of 4 students per group for upper grades. Students are placed in groups because they have similar instructional levels.


Duration of instruction:
Guided reading:
Ongoing across elementary school years

LLI: Temporary, short-term intervention (10 to 20 weeks, with possibility of more if needed)


Instructional materials:
Guided reading:
Leveled books selected by the teacher for the group

LLI: Leveled books that are designed for Leveled Literacy Intervention lessons and placed in a preplanned sequence


Guided reading:
Benchmark assessment to determine instructional level for each student. Beginning of the year, interval, and end-of-year data recorded. Interval assessment varies.

LLI: Benchmark assessment to determine instructional level for each student. Entry, interval assessments, and exit data recorded. Interval assessment data collected every other day (1 reading record every 6 days for reach student)


Time required:
Guided reading:
15 to 20 minutes varying from 3-5 times per week (more for students who are having difficulty)

LLI: 30 minutes daily (stretching to 45 minutes for upper elementary grades)


Instructional framework:
Guided reading:
Guided reading lessons include:

  • Text selection
  • Text introduction
  • Reading with teacher support and interaction
  • Discussion of the meaning
  • Teaching point
  • Word work (optional)
  • Extending the meaning (optional)

LLI: Even-numbered lessons include:

  • Preparation (text analysis; goals)
  • Rereading and assessment
  • Phonics/word work
  • Writing about reading (instructional text from yesterday)
  • Reading a new text (independent level)
  • Classroom and Home Connection

LLI: Odd-numbered lessons include:

  • Preparation (text analysis; goals)
  • Rereading text
  • Phonics/word work
  • Reading a new text (instructional level introduction, reading, discussion, teaching point)
  • Word work
  • Classroom and Home Connection


Instructional elements:
Guided reading:

  • Books matched to readers to support efficient processing and good comprehension
  • Comprehension supported by introduction, discussion, and specific teaching
  • Fluency explicitly taught and prompted
  • Writing about reading used as an option to extend comprehending
  • Phonics/word study demonstrated, taught, and reinforced during reading and taught in specific teaching points after reading - word work at the end of the lesson is optional
  • Vocabulary build through encountering new words in texts
  • Motivation fostered by selecting engaging texts and matching books to students' current reading levels


  • Books matched to readers and carefully sequenced to support efficient processing and good comprehension
  • Comprehension supported by introduction, discussion, and specific teaching
  • Fluency explicitly taught and prompted; rereading assists fluency; reading a new book at independent level also supports fluency
  • Writing about reading used every other day to extend comprehension
  • Phonics/word study is preplanned, sequenced, and explicitly taught twice in every 30 minute lesson
  • Vocabulary built through encountering new words in texts
  • Motivation fostered by selecting engaging texts and matching books to students' current reading levels; series books (fiction and nonfiction) build engagement; books not in classroom use


Teacher materials:
Guided reading:
Professional books (see Fountas & Pinnell at, Fountas & Pinnell Prompting Guide 1

LLI: When Readers Struggle, Fountas & Pinnell Prompting Guide 1, Lesson Guides


Professional development:
Guided reading:
Professional books, professional development sessions, literacy coaching in classrooms where available

LLI: Specific 6-day training at The Ohio State University and Lesley University, built-in professional development lessons and guides, DVDs demonstrating lessons and routines, tutorial on reading records


Guided reading:
Classroom teacher

LLI: Intervention, reading specialist, or classroom teacher

Feedback from the Fountas & Pinnell community of educators

By Gay & Irene at June 24, 2010 06:32
Filed Under: Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), Teacher's Community

Dear Educators,

As you may have noticed, lately we've making a lot of efforts to reach out to our community of fellow educators via the Web. We've been busy on Facebook, we're adding new blog posts regularly, and we've been Tweeting to our hearts' content. We've also setup an online form that you can use to submit questions to our team directly:

Later this summer keep an eye out for the Fountas & Pinnell Community - an online gathering place where everyone can come to learn, share, network, and benefit from the collective knowledge of all Fountas & Pinnell educators.

We are thrilled whenever get great feedback from the educational community, and we'd like to share some of it with you. This comment just came in through our blog contact form:

"I cannot thank your team enough for all the tools you have put out since my training as an LC coordinator. The benchmarks, continuum, LLI etc etc are amazing!!!! They are really helping to improve reading instruction across our country and even other parts of the world. And now the blog.... With personal responses to my troubling questions?!

Thank you thank you thank you.... Which doesn't seem to even be enough.

Keep up the great work!"

We just want to thank you—the educators who put our good work to great use—for letting us know how our work is impacting yours, and, more importantly, how the children are benefiting from it. Thank you all!

~ Gay and Irene