What is LLI?

A Closer Look at Leveled Literacy Intervention at SCE

What is LLI?

LLI stands for Leveled Literacy Intervention.

Authors: Irene Fountas & Gay Su Pinnell

Introducing the Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) reading program

What are the elements of an LLI lesson?

Each Level of LLI provides:

  • Combination of reading, writing, and phonics/word study.
  • Emphasis on teaching for comprehending strategies.
  • Explicit attention to genre and to the features of nonfiction and fiction texts.
  • Special attention to disciplinary reading, literature inquiry, and writing about reading.
  • Specific work on sounds, letters, and words in activities designed to help students notice the details of written language and learn how words "work."
  • Close reading to deepen and expand comprehension.
  • Explicit teaching of effective and efficient strategies for expanding vocabulary.
  • Explicit teaching for fluent and phrased reading.
  • Use of writing about reading for the purpose of communicating and learning how to express ideas for a particular purpose and audience using a variety of writing strategies.
  • Built-in level-by-level descriptions and competencies from The Continuum of Literacy Learning, PreK-8 (2011) to monitor student progress and guide teaching.
  • Communication tools for informing parents about what children are learning and how they can support them at home.
  • Technology support for assessment, record keeping, lesson instruction, and home and classroom connections.
  • Detailed analysis of the characteristics of text difficulty for each book.

For more information, visit the Heinemann website by clicking here.

Why are we using LLI?

LLI is being used at Sue Cleveland as an intervention for regular education students who are performing significantly below their peers in the areas of reading fluency, decoding, and comprehension. LLI is one option from a menu of research-based interventions that are available to Sue Cleveland's students.

The instructional level of the books increases one Fountas and Pinnell level every ten lessons in the Blue LLI kit, which is a much faster rate than in the typical classroom and are provided as a supplement to the child's guided reading lessons they receive from their classroom teacher on a daily basis.

Sue Cleveland offers LLI for 1st through 4th grade students:

1st grade: 1 group/4 students total

2nd grade: 3 groups/12 students total

3rd grade: 2 groups/8 students total

4th grade: 2 groups/8 student total

How do LLI lessons compare to guided reading lessons in my classroom?

LLI groups are small, consisting of either three or four students each.

Each lesson lasts for thirty minutes and is very fast-paced, engaging, and interactive.

A combination of direct instruction, teacher-led discussion, and independent work combines to keep students "on their toes" during the lessons.

LLI Blue

Odd numbered lessons:

  • Reread books from two previous lessons (fluency)
  • Phonics/Word Work Activity (decoding and word attack skills)
  • Read and discuss new book on instructional level (fluency, decoding, comprehension)
  • Discuss take-home book & homework assignment (home-school connection)

Even-numbered lessons:

  • Reread books from two previous lessons* (fluency)
  • *T completes a reading record on one student while others read


  • Phonics/Word Work Activity (decoding and word attack skills)
  • Writing Activity (about prior day's book)
  • Read and discuss new book two levels below instructional level (fluency, decoding, and comprehension)
  • Discuss take-home book & homework assignment (home-school connection)

LLI Red and Gold

There are few fundamental differences between LLI Blue and LLI Red and Gold. Students read longer texts at these levels, so a new text is introduced every other day rather than every day. In addition, the LLI Red and Gold kits include novel units and test preparation lessons to better meet the needs of older students.

Vocabulary enrichment and word work skills are an important component of the Red and Gold kits as well. Students work to develop a variety of strategies they can use to read unfamiliar words in more complex texts.

What impact is LLI having on our students?

Teachers whose students participate in LLI have reported an increase in:

  • fluency
  • decoding skills
  • confidence
  • overall improved attitude in reading
  • improved classroom behavior

The majority of students who participated in LLI last year showed steady and consistent growth in both fluency and comprehension, which is measured using AIMSweb R-CBM and MAZE probes every ten instructional days.

What does LLI look like at SCE?

Leveled Literacy Intervention at SCE 2013-14