Brandi J. Clark

Writer and Educator

Leveled Literacy Intervention: When to Jump on Board and When to Get Off the Bus!

It’s approaching the half-way point in my summer vacation and yes, I should be relaxing but, I hear questions about literacy whenever I am.  I don’t like confusion so I will clear this matter up today. Here is my take on Levelled Literacy Intervention. By the way,  I assume that you are an educator reading this. If you need to go into greater depth, please visit this link.

What is Leveled Literacy Intervention?

Here is the definition from the website.

“The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is an intensive, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention for students who find reading and writing difficult. The goal of LLI is to lift the literacy achievement of students who are not achieving grade-level expectations in reading.”

Is LLI for the Whole Class?

No. It is for students who struggle and more specifically,” for students who find reading and writing difficult.” When we see the word, intervention attached to anything else in life, we know it is for a select group and literacy is the same.  Fountas and Pinnell suggest LLI is a tier 2 or tier 3 strategy. See image for details. It is not for the whole class.

What does Intensive Mean?

  • Daily: All the LLI systems are to be used as a daily support for students.
  • Small groups -Ratios of 1:3 up to 1:4 with the higher-level kits.
  • Time consuming – 30 minutes to 45 minutes with the higher-level kits.

Is LLI Guided Reading?

Not exactly. It is a form of it, an “intensive” form. Guided reading in the general sense, is for all students from struggling readers to students reading beyond grade level. Guided reading does not follow an “intensive” structure and is flexible to the needs of the students and the classroom teacher. Guided reading is usually 15 minutes long, allowing teachers to fit in more groups and the other components of a balanced literacy program.  Students not in “intensive” intervention programs do not need to meet in guided reading groups daily.

Is LLI a Literacy Program?

No. If used as it is intended, LLI is an intervention program for select a group of students in the classroom. The definition of LLI includes the words “supplementary” for a reason.

What Also Helps Struggling Readers? (All readers…actually)

A finely-tuned balanced literacy program which naturally includes universal supports to help all readers. Here is a link to a document that explains Balanced Literacy in depth. Balanced Literacy is not outdated or out of favor, though I feel at times it has been forgotten in its entirety. I’ve noticed teachers relying on other systems (or books) claiming to be a balanced literacy program but the resources are missing balanced literacy components.

What Would You Suggest for a Classroom-Wide Resource?

Curriculum in Alberta is undergoing an overhaul but our current curriculum continues to be alligned to resources such as Literacy Place and Moving Up (Scholastic), Nelson Literacy and anything by Lucy Calkins.

How Soon Can You Use LLI in the School Year?

In grade one, wait until November at least.  Students in grade one are still learning routines and need to be fully immersed in an engaging literacy classroom. All students, even those that are suspected as being behind, can still read one-to-one with teachers and participate in guided reading groups before November. My belief is that grades ones are, with some *exceptions, getting a handle on letters, sounds and basic sight words at the start of the year. In fact, an appropriate fall assessment for grade ones is the Observational Survey by Marie Clay. (I would not suggest and Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment for grade ones in the fall either…same reasons.)

*Exceptions, are students that are reading beyond early grade one level. We do need to assess them to find out how to support their needs too.

Should LLI be Done in the Classroom?

Maybe. If you have no student behaviors. What? Sorry. Just adding some humor to the topic. Let’s face it, struggling readers are not known for their stellar focusing habits. In my experience, the “intensive” requirements of LLI work best in a quiet environment. How you provide that “quiet environment” is up to you but it needs to be a space that respects the needs of the struggling readers.

Does LLI Work for All Struggling Readers?

In my experience, no. It does not work with students who have behavioral needs or students that present with Dyslexia. In our district they are trying out Empowering Readers, a specialized program for students with Learning Disabilities.  In my opinion,  a student with learning disabilities and a student who is a struggling reader are not fully synonymous. When selecting students for LLI, in addition to the reading level, view the whole student profile to see if LLI will be a match for their needs and the needs of the group.

So, that is what I think. I hope it helps with planning decisions for the fall.

As always, any questions…Please let me know.



Help! I Have to Teach Language Arts: A Language Arts Survival Mini-Course Part 3


You might need to Ketch-up!

Ketch up


You can find the previous lessons here – Lesson 1 and Lesson 2

By the way, thanks for hanging in there. I appreciate that you are taking the time to strengthen your skills as a teacher. Your students will appreciate that.

Knowing all this information is the difference between using a template and understanding the coding of a template.

I promise as you stay with this course you will understand how to connect all the smorgasbord of opportunities to take Language Arts to the max. I want you to be able to understand how to make your own Language Arts plans with the confidence to include web tools, Makerspace and Project-Based Learning.

So let’s keep going.

Today’s Lesson: Developing an Understanding of the Five General Outcomes

When I was able to dive deep and explore the contents of the five general outcomes, it opened up my world.

Among other things,  it makes it so much easier to link the content areas to language arts when the connections are made obvious.

Even though the general outcomes are listed separately they are in fact approached in the classroom as integrated with each other and the six language arts.

Here is a direct quote from the program of studies.

“The general outcomes are interrelated and interdependent; each is to be achieved through a variety of listening, speaking, reading, writing, viewing and representing experiences.”

Nothing in language arts is really on its own and this is important to understand.

In my experience the isolation of skills and processes leads to learning out of context and without the possibility of transfer.

So here we go…

Outcome 1: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to explore thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences

Outcome 1

As mentioned in a prior post, outcome one  is all about students unpacking ideas, feelings and experiences whether this happens at the beginning, middle or end of a unit or lesson. In this outcome you can connect these processes: brainstorming, webbing, mind mapping, KWL charts, think-pair-share, anticipation guides, graffiti walls, place-mat activity, four corners, free writing, and quick writes.

Outcome 2: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to comprehend and respond personally and critically to oral, print and other media texts

Outcome 2 1

In the first section of Outcome 2 are your READING outcomes.  This is where you will find the support for phonics and comprehension strategy instruction. This is also your READER RESPONSE outcome. This outcome also suggests that reading a variety of texts is important as is examining them for AUTHOR’S PURPOSE. If you ever wondered where CLOSE READING fits, it fits here in outcome 2.


Outcome 2 2

The second section of Outcome 2 are your WRITING outcomes. Students will be using the variety of forms and genres encountered during reading instruction to create their own text. They will be experimenting with WORD CHOICE and collecting ideas to write about. If you have wondered where the WRITER’S NOTEBOOK fits, this is the general outcome to connect it to. Also there are connections to STORY WRITING  and CLOSE WRITING.

This outcome is “meaty” and requires a lot of attention in the language arts classroom.

Outcome 3: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to manage ideas and information

Outcome 3 1


Outcome 3 2

This outcome is your NONFICTION outcome. It can and should be connected to the other CONTENT AREAS. If you wondered where PBL fits in language arts, it is here.

This is also your RESEARCH outcome.

Outcome 4: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to enhance the clarity and artistry of communication

Outcome 4 1

In this half of outcome four we find SPELLING, WORD PLAY, EDITING, REVISION, CAPITALIZATION, PUNCTUATION and PRINTING/HANDWRITING.  This is the outcome focused on clarity and being precise.

Outcome 4 2

This half of outcome four is about PRESENTING to an audience and being an AUDIENCE member. If you wondered where AUTHOR’S CHAIR fits, it fits here.

Here is a direct quote from the program of studies.

“As students use English language arts in a variety of contexts with instruction, encouragement and support, they revise and edit to clarify meaning, achieve purposes and affect audiences.  In doing so, they apply the conventions of grammar, language usage, spelling, punctuation and capitalization.”

Think of outcome four as the Fix-em Up  and Presenting outcome.

Outcome 5: Students will listen, speak, read, write, view and represent to respect, support and collaborate with others.

Outcome 5

This is your GROUP WORK and CELEBRATING outcome. This is where students can be taught skills to work in partnerships and larger groups. Similar to the other outcomes, this one fits well with the other content areas. Social Studies is another subject area that has outcomes directed at working in groups. I would suggest comparing and combining the L.A. and Social Studies outcomes.

Here are some direct quotes from the program of studies.

“Language is necessary for working together. Students learn collaboration skills by discussing in groups, by building on the ideas of others, and by planning and working together to meet common goals and strengthen community.  In every classroom, students develop a sense of community.  They learn to use language to offer assistance and to participate in and enrich their classroom community.  In this way, students share perspectives and ideas, develop understanding and respect diversity.”

“Students learn that language is important for celebrating events of personal, social, community and national significance.  In their language learning and use, they develop their knowledge of language forms and functions.  As well, they come to know how language preserves and enriches culture.  To celebrate their own use of language, students display their work, share with others, and delight both in their own and others’ use of the language arts.”

Think of this outcome as the group work and celebration of work outcome.

This marks the end of today’s lesson.

I know.

You want me to keep going.

But I want you to digest today’s learning.

Know the Five General Outcomes.

Think about the resources you have access to and how they might match up to the five general outcomes.

Trust me…everything else makes sense if you understand these five general outcomes.

Until Next Time,

Coach Brandi!

Next Lesson:  Understanding “Text” in the English Language Arts program of studies (K-9)

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