I love this book on running records for several reasons:
1) It is short. It only has 32 pages.
2) It is easy to understand. It really simplifies the process.
3) It is chunked into easy to use chapters and sections
4) It provides concrete examples and templates.
I will summarize a few of the most important points in this post, but I highly recommend the book as a resource to refer back to for scoring and analyzing the running records you administer.
Why Use a Running Record
Some teachers believe children's progress in learning to read is best measured by testing the number of letters, or sounds, or words they know. If a Running Record is taken in a systematic way it will provide evidence of how well a child is directing his knowledge of letters, sounds, and words to understanding the messages in the text. So... if you teach kindergarten and think a running record can't help you, you may want to think again about it.
Running Records are taken to guide teaching, to assess text difficulty, and to capture progress over time. Running Records are an important part of assessing a child's text reading. They show much more than whether a child read a word right or wrong.
Taking a Running Record
Teachers who practice with a wide variety of children and are at ease with administering Running Records will get the most informative records and will make the fairest interpretations of the data. Some teachers only administer running records 2-3 times a year or not at all. Correctly administering a Running Record will show everything other reading inventories show as well as what the reader already knows, what the reader attended to, and what the reader overlooked.
Teachers should practice administering a Running Record until it is easy.
At first, simply record the easy-to-notice behaviors.
In the beginning, taking a Running Record will require your whole attention without interruptions. We all know that the things we practice are the things we get better at. So... practice!! In the beginning, set yourself up for success by freeing yourself of interruptions, carefully choosing the students you assess, and recording only the easy-to-notice behaviors. With practice and time you will become more skilled in record taking and able to focus despite the child's level, the text chosen, or the interruptions around the room.
Begin by practicing on a range of average readers. Avoid practicing on higher or lower readers until you become more skilled at administration. Good readers go to fast and struggling readers produce extremely complex records. Choose the students you start with wisely. Then practice with them!
Any texts can be used for administering Running Records. You don't have to do a Running Record only on pieces you have a pre-printed text for. Start with a familiar text that the child has read once or twice. An easy level book also makes it easy for teachers to record as they practice their recording techniques.
Teachers may also want to use a more challenging text to see if a child can read at a higher level than they anticipated. If the challenge is too great, the record will not show where the reading process comes together, but rather where it falls apart. Many teachers think that running records should always be administered using a "cold read," but when getting started, a familiar read will make it easier for you to record the child's reading behaviors.
When used in relation to Running Records the terms easy, instructional, and hard do not describe the characteristics of the text itself. They describe how the child read the text. They do not address how another child will read the same text.
Taking Running Records at three levels of text difficulty is a more reliable way to establish the instructional level of text that should be used with the student.
- easy text (95-100% correct)
- an instructional text (90-94% correct)
- hard text (80-89% correct)
This type of careful approach allows the teacher to use the record to make important educational decisions such as moving children to different groups, observing children with particular difficulties, selecting children for special supplementary assistance, etc.
Printed TextOftentimes, a printed text does not allow a teacher to record all of a child's reading behaviors. A Running Record needs to capture all of the behaviors that will help a teacher determine what a child is doing. A Running Record is not just about right or wrong words. When reading a Running Record, a teacher should be able to "hear the reading again" when reviewing the record. Limiting yourself to a few select pre-printed texts will provide less usable information. Pre-printed text encourages teachers to attend only to right and wrong responses, and to ignore how the child is arriving at their decisions. This was an "ah-ha" for me. I never really thought about the benefit of using a blank sheet of paper for a running record before I read this book.
You can download this Running Record template from Kindergarten Kidlets here. It is a free download.
Tape recording is discouraged because it does not record visual information such as how the child moved, seemed puzzled, peered at the print or looked across the room or at the ceiling.
Assessment and ComprehensionComprehension is dependent upon the difficulty of the text. Assessing comprehension on a text that is too easy or too hard does not make a lot of sense.
The answers to comprehension questions depend more upon the difficulty of the question posed rather than on the child's reading. So true!! Are we asking the right questions??
Different teachers ask different questions, thus weakening the assessment.
This makes complete sense and may be why Running Records you are taking on your own students do not seem to match exactly with a teammate's Records.
Try having a conversation with the child about the story after you take the running record. A good conversation will add to the teacher's understanding of the reader.
This Guided Reading video series takes place in a fifth grade classroom, but can easily be adapted to younger grades. It is a 5 part series. This video came from The Teaching Channel, so it is higher quality and a good model to watch. The management video is my favorite one.
These videos are nice examples of administering and analyzing Running Records
This video is almost 20 minutes long. It is most helpful if you break it into chunks and actually analyze the record for youself as she works through it.
The Running Records book is very helpful when watching the anaylsis video. The section on how to record what you see and how to score errors makes a great "cheat sheet" when scoring.
Something to think about...- How skilled are you at administering a Running Record? Do you practice?
- Do you only use pre-printed Running Record sheets? If so, practice scoring without the text.
- Do you only pay attention to right and wrong words read by the student? Are you using the Running Record to learn all that you can about a child's reading behaviors?
- Are you using standard procedures and taking and scoring records properly? If you want to be able to compare Running Records to each other and over time then you need to be using a common standard for taking records.