FAQs: Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)

What is LLI?

The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is a small-group, supplementary intervention program designed for young children who struggle with reading and writing.

Who is LLI for?

LLI is designed to be used with small groups of young children who need intensive support to achieve grade-level competency. Participants include low-achieving children who are not receiving another supplementary intervention. English language learners can also benefit from LLI. Each LLI lesson provides specific suggestions for supporting English language learners.

How do I find the instructional reading levels of the lowest-achieving students to know where to place children in LLI?

We recommend using the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System 1 to determine the instructional level of your students. Both the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems and Leveled Literacy Intervention are based on the Fountas & Pinnell A-Z Text Gradient which is correlated to grade level. The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System provides critical information on a child’s reading strengths and needs in the areas of processing strategies, comprehension, and fluency.

How long is LLI?

LLI is a short-term program designed to bring children up to grade-level performance in as little as 18–24 weeks.

Which LLI system should I use?

Three systems are available for LLI. Each supports instruction at different levels on the Fountas & Pinnell text gradient, A–Z.

  • Orange System: Levels A to C
  • Green System: Levels A to J
  • Blue System: Levels C to N

The right book can make or break instruction. Each LLI system includes a collection of brand new, carefully leveled books for use in instruction.

  • Orange System: 70 books
  • Green System: 110 books
  • Blue System: 120 books

What are the key features of the LLI lessons?

Lessons across the three systems progress from beginning reading in Kindergarten or Grade 1 (Level A) to beginning reading for Grade 3 (Level N). Supported by Fountas & Pinnell’s Continuum of Literacy Learning, LLI’s lessons include the following:

  • A combination of reading, writing, phonics and word study
  • Emphasis on comprehending strategies
  • Attention to the features of nonfiction and fiction texts
  • Specific work on sounds, letters, and words in activities designed to help children notice the details of written language and learn how words “work”
  • Help for students in expanding their vocabularies
  • Explicit teaching for fluent and phrased reading
  • Opportunities to write about reading to learn a variety of writing strategies.

I am just starting to read about this program? Could you please tell me where this fits in with Reading Recovery and guided reading?

Please click here to review an excerpt from the Program Guide.

What funding options may be available for purchasing the Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System?

The following funding sources would be appropriate for the purchase of Leveled Literacy Intervention:

  • Title I (both parts--regular and Reading First)
  • Title III
  • Title V
  • Optional Extended Day Programs
  • Summer School Funds
  • Accelerated Reading Instruction (ARI - Texas)
  • Dyslexia funds
  • Other state intervention funding
  • Early intervention funds - state and national

Since the LLI Green System covers levels A-J, can I just use it for both my Kindergarten and first grade children instead of purchasing the Orange System just for Kindergarten?

We do not recommend that. The LLI Orange System is specifically designed to help kindergarten children who are having difficulty in the beginning phases of learning to read and to prevent further difficulties by establishing a strong foundation in early literacy.

The Orange System provides three levels of instruction, with multiple weeks of lessons at each level A-C. It includes 70 carefully leveled books and 70 lessons specifically designed to match the trajectory needed by the kindergarten child. These original, high-quality leveled books feature topics, illustrations, and storylines that provide strong support in the beginning phases of learning to read.

After the first 10 days of "Getting Started" lessons, which include shared reading at levels A through C, children will read books and have systematic phonics lessons over a period of 20 days for Level A, 20 days for Level B, and 20 days for Level C.

Why is it important for Kindergarten children to spend so much time at the beginning levels?

The systematic approach of LLI is designed to prevent reading difficulties. As they begin to read, young children must acquire and bring together a range of very basic understandings; including:

  • Hearing the sounds in words. They must become aware of the sounds (phonemes) in words in a general way, and then learn to hear and distinguish the individual sounds. Phonemic awareness is considered to be a critical element in their ability to associate sounds and letters (see National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000). The lessons in the LLI Orange System provide a systematic approach to the development of phonemic awareness at an intensity level designed to help children who are having difficulty hearing sounds in words.
  • Learning to look at letters. Children must also acquire the ability to distinguish letters by their distinctive features (the features that make a letter different from every other letter) and to associate them with letter names. Before children can associate letters and sounds, he or she must be able to notice and use these distinctions. The task requires learning how to look at letters. This ability must become automatic. The LLI Orange Systems provides systematic, "hands on" instruction to help children learn how to look at letters.
  • Learning letter-sound relationships. At the same time they are learning how to hear sounds in words and recognize letters, children begin to make connections between letters and sounds (phonics). Children must understand the alphabetic principle (that there is a relationships between letters and sounds) and to develop a solid understanding of simple relationships. The LLI Orange System lessons provide systematic instruction to help children understand the relationships between consonants and sounds and to learn simple phonograms (with endings such as -an and -at).
  • Using letters and sounds to solve words. As children learn letter-sound relationships, they begin to apply them to solve simple words. LLI provides a great deal of systematic instruction to help children understand how words are constructed using letters and letter patterns. They read and write words that are in continuous text.
  • Learning how print "works." Beginning readers must develop a sound of understanding of how to use print. For example, you read left to right and match one spoken word with one word in print. You return to the left margin each time you read a new line. These complex early reading behaviors must be under the reader's control before he or she starts working on complex print. The LLI Orange System lessons provide 10 days of highly supportive shared reading in the Getting Started lessons to help children begin to understand how the system works. Then, children experience instruction over several weeks (if needed) at Level A. Here, beginning readers can establish control of voice-print match and left to right reading of very simple texts in which there is only one line of print on each page. If needed, the reader can spend several more weeks on texts that have only two or three lines of print. This strong instruction at very simple levels helps the young children develop automatic control of these important early reading behaviors.
  • Developing a core of high frequency words. It is very advantageous to beginning readers to have a core of words that they know and can recognize (and sometimes write) rapidly and automatically. Knowing important high- frequency words (such as the, and, is, and it) fuels reading and writing growth. The certainty of a known word makes it easier to monitor one's reading; the known words free attention for new words that are not yet known. The LLI Orange System provides for the systematic acquisition of over 50 high frequency words.
  • Understanding and using the structure of written language. Knowledge of language syntax (grammar) is a powerful source of information for beginning readers. Since written language patterns are somewhat different from spoken language, young readers need many opportunities to process simple sentences. Once they become aware of the kinds of language patterns they will meet in written sentences, they can make better predictions and can monitor their reading to be sure that it "sounds right." The LLI Orange System provides for a great deal of practice reading up to 70 stories and informational texts.
  • Understanding simple stories and informational texts. Beginning readers need to understand simple stories and to notice important information in texts. They need many opportunities reading texts with familiar content and themes so that they experience excellent comprehension of texts daily. The LLI Orange System provides many highly engaging texts on a range of topics that appeal to children. In addition, teachers engage children in conversation about the meaning of these texts and they extend their understandings through writing and drawing.

The LLI Orange System is especially designed to provide a firm foundation for beginning readers. The combination of instructional elements and engaging texts makes it possible to clear up basic confusions and to prevent reading difficulties in later grades.

By mid-year, your assessment will reveal those kindergarten children who have confusions about print. A series of LLI lessons from the Orange System, as needed, will help these children learn how to process print, use phonics, and understand their reading.

"Learning to read is a complex task for beginners. They must coordinate many cognitive processes to read accurately and fluently. Readers must be able to apply their alphabetic knowledge to decode unfamiliar words and to remember how to read words they have read before. When reading connected text, they must construct sentence meanings and retain them in memory as they move on to new sentences. At the same time, they must monitor their word recognition to make sure that the words activated in their minds fit with the meaning of the context. In addition, they must link new information to what they have already read, as well as to their background knowledge, and use this to anticipate forthcoming information. When one stops to take stock of all the processes that readers perform when they read and comprehend text, one is reminded how amazing the act of reading is and how much there is for beginners to learn." (Report of the National Reading Panel, p. 2-99)

National Institute of child Health and Human Development. 2000. Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read, An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction: Reports of the Subgroups. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIH Pub., No. 00-4754.

Are there any models on any of the CDs for teachers for correct pronunciations of the letter sounds?

We do not have a specific place on the CD that teaches the "correct" sound for each letter. There are legitimate regional dialects, and every speaker must make the connection between the way he speaks and its connection to the phoneme. Generally, small variations are not a problem.

You will find many examples of teachers clearly enunciating sounds to help children hear phonemes in words, and we believe these examples will be helpful. You will also find explicit demonstrations of how teachers can use Elkonin sound boxes and letter boxes to help children say and hear the sounds in words and connect them to letters. The Lesson Guides in LLI also have a great deal of instruction in phonemic awareness.

Do all students in a small reading group need to be at the same reading level? I have four children in grade 3 that are at reading levels C, E, G, and H. I understand the ideal would be if the students in a reading group are all at one level, is there a way to have different levels in a group?

Ideally, all children in an LLI group would be at the same instructional level. They will be working intensively and moving in an accelerated way, so they should be a group that can easily be taught together. Usually, an LLI group is taught by a reading resource or intervention teacher who can take children from several classrooms and group them. Also, the teacher can regroup to keep the groups together.

Sometimes, it is impossible to have all children precisely on the same level. There may be one level difference (for example, C, C, D) and the process still works because the child on D can still profit from the instruction. Instruction would be at the lower level and the teacher would provide a little support to help the child on D expand experiences. At other times, you may find that a child is a bit ahead of the others but has some weaknesses in processing and so is appropriately place a level below.

Remember that sometimes you can expand the group to 4 to accommodate appropriate group combinations, or you can cut down to 2 for a short time.

In general, though, you should not have too much of a gap between children in a group. And, you would not try to accommodate more than 1 level in a group by having children read different books. The lesson would not be cohesive. All the children in the group would read the same books and have the same phonics and word work.

Is Heinemann planning on replacing the Oscar Pistorius book, especially if he's found guilty?

The LLI Red System title Oscar Pistorius, Fast Like a Cheetah was written and printed prior to his being an Olympic athlete and well before his alleged criminal conduct. We have heard from several teachers across the country who have chosen to continue to read the book and engage students in a conversation about the fragile nature of celebrity and how challenging it can be to publish biographies of real people with real lives. However, we understand that some teachers and school districts would prefer to use a different title; therefore, Heinemann now has, in stock, an alternate level P nonfiction biography to offer customers who choose not to use the Oscar Pistorius title. It is available for purchase at the standard school pricing for LLI Red System Student Books. The title is Bren Bataclan, Smile Artist and the ISBN is 978-0-325-04957-1. All supporting materials for this lesson are available on our website at http://www.heinemann.com/fountasandpinnell/supportLLI.aspx (under LLI - Red System). For further information or inquiries, please contact Heinemann customer service at 800.225.5800.