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

Answer:
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 Heinemann.com 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: http://www.heinemann.com/fountasandpinnell/BAS2_changes.aspx. 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:

Question:
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:
Question:
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.

www.phonicsminilessons.com 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 Heinemann.com 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: http://www.copernicused.com/ProductListing.aspx?categoryid=54&searchstring=all

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: http://www.fpblog.heinemann.com/post/2010/08/09/Update-on-Leveled-Literacy-Intervention-for-Grades-3-8.aspx

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

 

~The Fountas & Pinnell Team

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

What is the Guided Reading Teaching Method?

By Gay & Irene at August 02, 2010 04:25
Filed Under: balanced literacy, Guided Reading

We are often asked why all books can't simply be leveled for teaching using the guided reading instructional method. The answer is both simple and complicated because: A- not all books are appropriate for delivering guided reading instruction  B- When taken outside of the context of classroom instruction (i.e. used for independent reading or read-alouds), guided reading text levels lose their impact and meaning.

Here is some helpful information from our guided reading leveled books website (http://www.fountasandpinnellleveledbooks.com) to help you understand what guided reading is and how guided reading instruction is delivered in the classroom.

 

Guided Reading Basics

What is guided reading?
Guided reading is a teaching approach designed to help individual readers build an effective system for processing a variety of increasingly challenging texts over time. Using benchmark assessments or other systematic observation, the teacher has determined the approximate instructional reading level of each of the students. The teacher forms a temporary group of students that are alike enough in their development of a reading process that it makes sense to teach them together for a period of time. In selecting a text for the group, the teacher uses the level designation; thinks about the strengths, needs, and background knowledge of the group; and analyzes the individual text for opportunities to support students' successful engagement with the meaning, language, and print of the text. The teacher uses the text to help the children expand what they know how to do as readers.

To learn more about guided reading and benchmark assessments, see the following:

 

What are the elements of a guided reading lesson?
Although the conversation, text, and teaching points will vary from level to level and group to group, the basic structure of a guided reading lesson is essentially the same:

  • You introduce the text to the students in a brief conversation about the meaning, language, and features of the text. During this conversation you clarify some of the language or provide other vital information students will need to process the text with understanding, explain a few difficult words or concepts, and help the children notice a few important words. You then turn the text over to the students to read for themselves.
  • Each student reads the text (or a unified part of the text) softly or silently to himself or herself. You "listen in" to individuals and sometimes interact to support reading. After reading, you and the students discuss the meaning of the text and revisit the text as necessary. You may have explicit teaching points based on what you observed as students processed the text.
  • (Optional) You may wish to extend students' understanding of the text through writing, drawing, diagrams (graphic organizers), extended discussion, partner discussion, readers theater, etc.
  • (Optional) You may want to engage children in one or two minutes of preplanned "word work" using magnetic letters, individual whiteboards, writing paper, a chart, or other ways of displaying and illustrating principles. This work builds automaticity and flexibility in solving words and word parts.

 

For more basic information about what the guided reading instructional method is and how guided reading lessons are taught, see the following websites:

- Guided Reading on Wikipedia
- Definition of Guided Reading (Instructional Strategies Online)
- What is guided reading? (Scholastic article)
- Guided reading overview (TeachersNetwork.org)
- Guided Reading (WikEd)
- Introduction to leveled [guided] reading (Reading A-Z)
- What is Guided Oral Reading? (Reading Rockets)

Introduction to Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons

While our Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) and Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) are quickly becoming well-known in the elementary teaching world for the outstanding results they produce, sometimes educators are looking for a structured program to meet the developmental needs of their youngest students. We understand that to some extent children follow their own idiosyncratic paths, but we also recognize that developmental patterns provide a foundation upon which to build the smartest instruction possible. Our Word Study Continuum plots a course along the developmental pathway children traverse as they become expert word solvers and effective readers. It is with this in mind that we developed our Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons.

To address young readers' developmental needs, Phonics Lessons, Kindergarten includes four essential areas of language knowledge: phonemic awareness, letters and sounds, reading words, and early reading concepts. Phonics Lessons, Grade 1 expands into more sophisticated concepts and includes six areas of knowledge: phonemic awareness, letters and sounds, reading words, writing words, processing strategies in reading, and processing strategies in writing. Students in grade 2 will move into more sophisticated reading and writing concepts within these six areas, and students in grade 3 will focus on even more advanced areas of language with the addition of vocabulary, fluency in reading and writing, and word meaning. Please refer to the Phonics Lessons Research Base document (.pdf) for more information about the research and educational theory behind these programs.

In these videos Gay answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons. A wealth of additional information about these programs is available on http://www.phonicsminilessons.com.

Overview of Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons

 

What makes a good phonics minilesson?
A good minilesson is quick, efficient, and effective, and Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons are designed to be just that. They are short, focused on a single principle, use consistent language and clear examples, engage children in active learning, and follow a regular lesson structure that quickly becomes familiar to children.

Using Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons as a spelling program
A systematic, five-day lesson procedure for learning specific spelling principles is built into grades 1, 2, and 3. The five days include choosing and writing words from a given word list, a "look- say-cover-write-check" technique, a buddy check, making connections with other words, and finally, assessment.

Using poetry for early language development in Phonics Lessons
Poetry provides many powerful learning opportunities by surrounding children with the sounds, words, and expressions of poetic language. Classrooms in which enjoying and reciting poetry is part of the culture help children absorb basic knowledge of how sounds and words work.

Supporting English Language Learners in Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons
Through the lessons, speakers of languages other than English learn the basic building blocks of oral and written English. Two tools in the minilesson books directly support these learners. First, the front matter at the beginning of each book contains general recommendations for working with English language learners. Second, "Working with English Language Learners" at the beginning of every lesson provides specific ways to adjust the lesson for these learners.

Research base for Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons
Phonics Lessons
and Word Study Lessons are grounded in a wide base of academic research, including all the areas examined by The National Reading Panel, and reflect its recommendations for phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A complete research paper, entitled “Phonics Lessons: The Research Base” is available. In addition, the lessons reflect practical, classroom-based research in how children learn, practices that have been reconfirmed by many teachers as they have field-tested Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons.

For more answers to frequently asked questions about our Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons, visit http://www.phonicsminilessons.com/classroomsupport/faq.html

Guided Reading for Reading Recovery, Balanced Literacy, and Special Needs Students

While not developed specifically for Reading Recovery®, balanced literacy, and special needs students, teaching systems such as Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) and the Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) are often used with them. The effetiveness of reading and literacy development programs is determined by the ongoing interaction between the student, the instructor, and the instruction being presented. Fountas & Pinnell teaching systems combine research-based instructional models with developmentally-appropriate reading materials and a common language of instruction to assure that students' learning experiences are consistent and well-structured - regardless of who is doing the teaching.

Here are answers to questions about using guided reading instruction and assessment with Reading Recovery, balanced literacy, and special needs student populations.

**If you would like to present your own findings or opinions on this topic, please feel free to contribute to the Balanced Literacy, Reading Recovery, and Special Needs forum hosted by Heinemann Publishing.


Question: I am a Reading Recovery trained teacher and as I watched the video of the program, it looks like RR for groups. After teaching RR for 10 years, I went back into the classroom as a kdg. teacher. I adapted my training in RR to teach to small groups with much success.

Answer: The design of the reading Recovery Lesson and the design of the LLI lesson are different, though they are both built on Clay`s complex theory of the reading process. As you know, when you work with a small group you must address broader needs and use techniques that build on the group interaction. You will see some similar instructional procedures that we have identified as highly effective with low-achieving readers such as the sound and letter boxes form the Russian psychologist Elkonin. You will also find many other instructional procedures that are very different from Reading Recovery. You may be interested in reading a paper we wrote on this subject called “The Advantages of Using Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) and Reading Recovery® Together to Serve More Low-Achieving Children in Schools.”

 

Question: LLI and Balanced Literacy – How do they mesh? Our county is moving into a Balanced Literacy framework, guided by the principles in your publications. We fortunately have teachers and literacy coaches who have been trained as Reading Recovery and Literacy Collaborative teachers to help us think through our learning and implementation. Will the LLI framework provide the same sort of theory and implementation so that our EIP and Special Ed children not be involved in a different framework - very concerned for our first grade kids!

Answer: The LLI teaching will fit well with the theoretical foundation of Literacy Collaborative and Reading Recovery and will be highly effective with second language learners and many special education students. There may be a few special education students who after evaluation may need a specialized approach that differs from LLI. For more information on this subject, you may want to read a paper we wrote on LLI and Reading Recovery.

 

Question: I have heard that LLI is being used with SPED students. Is there a research article available that summarizes these results? How the pacing of the lessons may differ, etc? Is there any data out there for use with ELL students?

Answer: LLI is not especially designed for SPED although many SPED teachers are finding it very helpful. At this time, LLI is so new that we do not have results on its use with SPED students, however we are in the process of collecting data from a number of districts and will soon have reports to share on our website in the LLI Research and Data Collection area. Informal reports from SPED teachers indicate that their students do make good gains and that they are able to use the lessons as designed. For most, the pacing is about the same although some teachers report that they provide more lessons on a level. This is easy to do by using both Green and Blue Systems or by using the framework with more leveled books that are teacher selected.

 

Question: We are working with a group of 3 special ed students. They have come out of a self contained program to a mainstreamed class. We are providing reading service to them. We did the benchmark assessment and they came out at level J. We are using LLI with them. We are finding that they are reading fluently at that level, but the comprehension is limited. They did level J last year in the blue kit and know have completed the green level J lessons with limited comprehension. Where should we proceed next?

Answer: Are you are using the Recording Forms from LLI to evaluate the comprehension conversation? When you see the children are having continued difficulty with comprehension it is important to first think about the teaching in the lessons. How well are you introducing the texts? Are you helping them think within, beyond, and about the text? How effective is your discussion?
We would also refer you to Chapter 17 in When Readers Struggle for many specific suggestions for improving comprehension. This book is included in your LLI system.

Ultimately, if you decide you need to spend more time at the level pull in more level J books from your leveled book library and use the LLI lesson structure and the Continuum goals for guided reading included in your lesson guide to plan for your lessons.

 

Question: I recently attended your LLI training in Houston and am planning on implementing the systems in our school. I am the principal of a school that serves many students who find literacy learning difficult. I am wondering if you would recommend using a lesson structure in guided reading groups that is similar to the odd/even structure of the LLI lessons. I think there is an advantage to having a Reading Recovery teacher return to the classroom so that RR strategies can be used with more children in the classroom. I wonder if using the LLI lesson structure(s) in guided reading would also enhance student growth.

Answer: We do not recommend the LLI format for classroom groups. Guided reading is a powerful structure for children`s literacy learning in groups in the regular classroom program. In the guided reading lesson, the teacher does use the same facilitative language we discussed related to strategic activities. The language is not specific to Reading Recovery™ or LLI. The Prompting Guide we used is a tool for all literacy teachers. The theoretical knowledge that underlies Reading Recovery, LLI, and guided reading is similar. However, the LLI structure is more intense for the lowest achieving children.

 

Question: Is LLI an appropriate program for use with students labeled as having the characteristics of dyslexia? Dyslexia is a term I do not see in the body of your work nor that of Marie Clay, at least that I can find. However, school districts are bound by law in our state to provide programs for dyslexia. There are strict guidelines and specific tests, such as the GORT and CTOPP, used for diagnosis. The typical dyslexia program in the surrounding school districts seem to be phonics-based programs which I shall not name. I, along with many of my reading facilitators, am Reading Recovery trained. I feel that the LLI kits are very well suited and more well-balanced for most students who receive the dyslexia diagnosis. I found one blog entry in which you spoke about the IEP and making sure the kit matched the accommodations prescribed. The guidelines in our state dyslexia guide provide for students to be categorized dyslexic in RtI Tier 3. Only if a student does not make adequate progress in 18 weeks is he tested for Special Education. The 504 guidelines also give leeway to label a child dyslexic in Tier 2. Could you please comment to the extent you can on how your program works with students who have the label as well as your own understanding of dyslexia?

Answer: Dyslexia is an umbrella term that covers a variety of learning disabilities. LLI was not specifically designed to meet the needs of students who have been tested and determined to have learning disabilities and been given an I.E.P. In general, it is an early intervention designed to be used when the teacher`s assessment shows that the student has difficulty and is not able to meet grade level standards. It`s broad base allows for acceleration across reading, writing, and phonics, and the combination of research-based instructional actions meets the needs of most students.

LLI can be used with learning disabled students after a team meets and determines that the components of LLI are consistent with the student`s I.E.P. Many students have been served in this category.

 

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.

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.

 

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 (submitted by the Fountas & Pinnell Team): 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.