Literacy By Design

by W. Z.
(Waterloo, IL)

This year we were given a new reading series. It is called Literacy By Design.

Has anyone heard of this series or used it?

I will not share my opinion of the series yet, but would love to hear from others who have heard of it or used it.

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Sep 02, 2015
by: JP

I have used LBD and found it fantastic. First and foremost it is fantastic having 6 X 8 levelled readers (4 fiction, 4 non fiction) across a spectrum of levels allowing you to teach concepts at content levels specific to varied reading abilities.

The teacher's guides are very clear for teachers just getting comfortable with reading groups, and the basic stencil book allows flexibility while giving the students familiarity with a format for demonstrating what they know.

The LBD benchmarks, while not as comprehensive as DRA testing can be modified and administered relatively quickly (with a little tweaking). I used them to constantly monitor and regroup my students with the exception of when our school had more comprehensive testing scheduled.

The school I was at did not have much in the way of a tech budget so I cannot comment on the online features of the program.

It did not take me long to modify the program into a reading program that worked for my students.

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Feb 18, 2015
Not appropriate for ELL's!
by: Anonymous

Before the school year started, Laurie Anderson introduced this program, stressing its best elements, such as 'gradual release of responsibility'. Her explanations and activities were invaluable. Unfortunately, this program is inappropriate for English Language Learners, especially if the director requires that one complete the lessons designed for fluent English speakers prior to using the materials designed for ELLs. Teachers with 10+ years of experience teaching ELLs were told they couldn't use methods like 'comprehensible input', but had to read pages of 'teacher talk', none of which was comprehensible to ELLs. This certainly did not encourage appropriate behavior on behalf of frustrated children. But never fear. The method of grading the initial test of phonemic awareness, giving no credit if a child wasn't able to answer all three parts of each question (but answered 2 out of 3 correctly), meant that at the end of the year, when all three parts of each question might be answered correctly, the measurement of progress made during the year would be unrealistically high, giving way too much credit to this curriculum. Numbers don't lie, but how you use those numbers can be very deceptive and serve your own purpose.

Jan 28, 2015
Hard to use at first
by: Anonymous

I felt the layout was not easy to follow. I like some of the support given in the teacher resources for small group leveled books.

Did not like the phonics part at all. At our school, we use the Zoo Phonics program and use LBD for small group reading books. We combine the strategies from LBD with some other reading strategies we have.

Jan 28, 2015
Hard to use at first
by: Anonymous

I felt the layout was not easy to follow. I like some of the support given in the teacher resources for small group leveled books.

Did not like the phonics part at all. At our school, we use the Zoo Phonics program and use LBD for small group reading books. We combine the strategies from LBD with some other reading strategies we have.

Jan 28, 2015
Hard to use at first
by: Anonymous

I felt the layout was not easy to follow. I like some of the support given in the teacher resources for small group leveled books.

Did not like the phonics part at all. At our school, we use the Zoo Phonics program and use LBD for small group reading books. We combine the strategies from LBD with some other reading strategies we have.

Oct 29, 2014
Hated it!
by: Anonymous

My experience with this curriculum was brief. It was in a foreign country where all but one of my kindergarteners were English language learners. Although each unit included differentiated material for ELLs, we were told we wouldn't be able to use those materials. Cognates with Spanish were occasionally put in the margins, but I was told that if I spoke one Spanish word to my students, I would be fired! The representative from the publisher made references to Lucy Calkins (Teachers College Readers and Writers Workshop), but I didn't see much similarity between LBD and TCRWW (which is a wonderful approach to literacy!). The representative also made reference to brain research, but what I saw of LBD violated all the brain research that I've ever seen! The curriculum is overloaded with teacher talk (and I was instructed to 'read the script'), leaving little for children to discover on their own. And why on earth would you teach genres to five year olds, especially starting with 'realistic fiction'? Am I old fashioned in thinking that the word 'story' is more appropriate for five year olds than 'text'? Instead of allowing children to enjoy the rhythm of a poem, as in "Let's go, let's go, I can't be late, I must be there by half past eight!" teachers are supposed to read, "Boys and girls, sometimes an author repeats a word or phrase for effect." What on earth does that mean to a kindergartener? So if you want to deprive children of the pleasure of reading and writing and want to have license to inflict on them endless, pedantic commentary, LBD is a great choice for you! P.S. I quit the job because I couldn't go along with this curriculum.

Apr 20, 2014
by: Parent

My daughters school has adopted LBD as a curriculum but i am confused because I see no science being taught as it should be, its all through reading books. My daughter is bored of reading books all the time now, as kids in grade2 love to read fantasy as well, I feel that it is doing bad more than it is doing good.

Want to know if LBD is just a literacy program or it is fit to be a curriculum as a whole.

Many Thx

Jun 12, 2011
It's not a script, people!
by: Heather

It is a GREAT program. It is not, like ANY program, meant to be used verbatim. Use your professional skills and supplement, pull out, and eliminate based on YOUR CLASS NEEDS. Many people hate it because it isn't worksheet based. It requires thought, conversations, and preparation. It isn't an easy program. The "little books" ARE good stories- much better than one size fits all basal readers. Also- you CAN supplement trade books: just go to the Fountas and Pinnell website and get the level for the books you WANT to use. The graphic organizers require thinking. No, they do not give an easy A or an easy way to "grade" but that isn't what reading education is about. I like it, but I don't do it verbatim and I do a lot of supplementation. It isn't a program for slackers.

Oct 14, 2010
Hate it!
by: Frustrated Mom

Our school started this program this year. My son is in 3rd grade and it is much too hard! He got a 50% on the first test and his teacher told me his score was one of the best in the class. Hopefully I'll see a difference down the road...

Sep 12, 2010
Love this program
by: Geri

I am a veteran teacher and have taught under a variety of new and OLD styles. I like this program because it has an excellent writing program. Last year our kids excelled with the little readers and we took our high level readers in and out of them and mixed it up with chapter books. This year our first grade students coming in have had LBD in Kindergarten and it is amazing the difference in their skills from past groups. This is not a friendly curriculum for the traditional teacher. They really need to step out of their comfort zone, but if one uses this curriculum with an open mind I think they will see the true value of it.
As for how to get through it the first what you can, tackle one new concept a week and don't try to do it all. Trying to do it all will drive you crazy. I found it nearly impossible to teach the whole lesson each day. This year I am looking forward to doing things even better.

Sep 03, 2010
New To LBD
by: Angie D

My school will start this program next week and I am so concerned to be getting training while using it at the same time. I used Reading First at my last school and really liked it. I think the training should've been a week or so b4 shool starts. If anyone has any ideas of what I should do in the beginning to avoid mistakes you saw when you started, please pass it on.

Feb 26, 2010
A Good Balance
by: Anonymous

I like the program. What I like best is that it provides me with a structure and at the same time isn't overly scripted. If you want to read the teacher's manual out loud, word for word to the children- you won't like LBD. But if you prefer a lot of resources that are research-based for you to pull from and give you room to use your teaching skills and professional judgement, this is something you'd probably be comfortable with. I can't think of a single 'best practice' concept that isn't addressed by LBD, although it is so comprehensive it's easy to miss something, and then then assume it isn't covered. I've spent a lot of weekend hours w/ the manuals, pouring over them before my family gets out of bed. I do think the technology & web-support is weak and very disappointing, but that is the only thing I would change.

Feb 25, 2010
Not good enough
by: Anonymous

I have taught many years, and feel this is a series that is truly lacking for the above average and HIGH students. The leveled readers are great, but that is all. The teachers guide, that is supposedly the best, is hard to follow and had many of us in tears, trying to follow it. Most of the teachers at our grade level feel it is truly a sit and listen time for students in a whole group setting. The comprehension organizers cannot be done without someone guiding them to do it. This in itself is hard when trying to have small groups for guided reading.......... as the other students are to be working on them during their "worktime on their own". Most of the organizers have no samples to follow. So many feel that we are "winging it" daily due to the teacher's guide stating to do a chart, organizer, etc. but then having nothing to follow to see what it is they want, or a diagram as to how to introduce it. I wish someone on each grade level could have piloted this series to see all of the glitches it had. NOT a perfect series, with many things that need to be supplemented. I find it hard to drag out a lesson by just talking about it, and then never touching base with that phonetic skill or grammar skill again. It's just not good enough from what we once had.

Feb 20, 2010
Good test scores
by: Anonymous

When our district implemented it, I had serious doubts. We did a lot of reading of the research components. Doing this, we greatly understood the authors' intentions. Almost every classroom saw increased test scores on the NWEA MAPs. The percentage of students meeting their targets rose about 10% from the previous years. It's about the research base not about doing the program exactly as written.

Feb 08, 2010
by: Anonymous

I am in the 2nd year of a pilot now. I find it to be very effective. The literature in the sourcebook for instruction is not authentic; however you get a true feel for the application of the strategies. Students are now able to identify the types of questions being asked. It is imperative that you make time for independent reading practice for students. This is where your authentic literature comes in. You will see progress if you follow the program and utilize the think alouds for the authentic literature that is in the teacher's guide.

The phonics is progressing as well. You need to complete it daily and do all of the activities. You can't cut corners and expect success.

Jan 06, 2010
by: Anonymous

Our system adopted this program hook, line & sinker. I am on theme 7 and I have many concerns. BUT......My biggest concern is the lack of authentic literature. There are so many wonderful books written for children. In my opinion, that's what we should be using to teach kids to read.

Oct 18, 2009
by: Anonymous

Our district adopted LBD this year. I teach fourth grade. I have mixed thoughts on the program. I am really trying to give it a chance for success in my classroom. I like the last page of the Theme tests that show the breakdown of the test and the areas that students may need more work in. What I don't like about it is that it feels like I am doing most of the reading. I feel that there is not enough assessment built in. I don't think there is enough student accountability. I have modified the Small Group Process so that while I am working with one small group the other 17 students are somewhat on task. I feel I need to improve that though and am in the process of more changes. If you would like to know the details of what I do just ask. I am also struggling with the online support materials. There seem to be some glitches in the system and so far it is not very user friendly. If anyone has suggestions about that part of it I would love to hear them.

Sep 23, 2009
by: Anonymous

I think it is horrible. It has no area for skill practice. The only good thing about it is the leveled readers. There is nothing you can use for a grade unless you use a rubric for everything you do, and I don't think that rubrics should be used for everything.

Feb 28, 2009
Guided Reading/Small Group Component Works
by: Anonymous

My school didn't buy the whole program. We bought the small group/guided reading book set with teacher's guide for the second and third grade. It was the best deal in the Rigby catalog for number of book sets for the price. And half the books are non-fiction. The kids really enjoy the books especially the non-fiction sets. LBD even has a title on snowboarding-how cool is that! I actually use the teacher's guide when I teach the reading groups and I rarely use teacher's guides in general. The first lesson for each book has many ideas you can pick from. The second lesson has comprehension questions that include both literal and higher level questions that can fuel great discussions. I have seen lots of growth in my students' retelling and comprehension. They are now reading for meaning. My students are already excellent decoders; they just didn't know they needed to think when reading. So, I love the small group instruction component of the LBD program!

Feb 11, 2009
Many Concerns
by: Anonymous

Our district was part of the study last year and then the rest of us got it for free. Just briefly, you get what you pay for.

The concerns are that the sitting time for kids is developmentally inappropriate. The phonics is implicit phonics that does not have a logical sequence.

I would love to have a discussion with someone else about this. My email is

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