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What is a running record?

It is a recording of what a child says as he reads about a l00 words of text for you.
It is used to measure decoding skill (what strategies the student uses when reading).
It tells you what book levels are easy, medium, or too hard for the student.
Marie Clay's version of the running record is most often used in today's classrooms. 
Source:  Reutzel & Cooter, 2003
In RDG 318, we will be learning to take a running record similar to Marie Clay's version. We will also learn to do a miscue analysis and to check fluency rates.  


In GENERAL, how do you take a running record?
Ask the child to select a book or a page he can read and ask him to read it for you.  If you have time before he begins reading, make a copy of the text he will read so you can mark on it to show what he did when he read for you.  You will use some kind of shorthand so you can mark quickly. Your goal is to write in the words he makes mistakes on so later you can look at them and ask yourself "why did he read it that way?"  Your goal is to "recreate" what the child said using your own text copy and shorthand.  The mistakes (miscues) the student makes tell you alot about how well the child can read and how you can help him become a better reader.

If you don't have time to go make copies, pull out a sheet of blank paper and begin making check marks for every word he pronounces correctly.  When he miscues (makes a mistake), write in what he says.

When taking a running record, always indicate whether the text was a "cold reading" or whether the child was already familiar with the text.

Always add this information:
Your name, date, student name, grade level, text level or title & page.


What are the conventions I should use when taking a running record?

Some people mark on the text copy and use this kind of shorthand.


Others make little check marks on blank sheets of paper so they don't have to make copies.  

Many use tape recorders for backup "just in case" they miss something, especially with the faster older reader.

It is a good idea for everyone to use the same conventions so teachers can share this important information with other educators involved in planning for students in the same school. 

Here are the markings we will be using in class.


HOW do you take a running record?  

Here is a PPT

Try taking a running record where a child makes a
 Ask a friend to read a page and change a few of the words.  Practice making the check marks and writing in the "substituted" words.

Try taking a running record when the student repeats a word or phrase.
We do not count "repetitions" as errors but we still mark them.
Repetitions indicate the child is thinking and trying to figure out a word ahead. Once he makes a decision, he will back up, re read to collect his thoughts, and then go on reading.

Try taking a running record when the student self-corrects.
Self corrections are recorded but we do not count these as errors either.
Self corrections indicate the child is thinking as he reads.  This is good.  Often kids find it hard to read and think at the same time.  When the child self corrects, it is obvious he is monitoring his reading (taking charge of it).  In the end, the child "got it right," so we do not count it as an error even though we still mark it on our paper to show what he did while reading.

Try several at a time
Try taking a running record when the student does more than one thing.
You may want to take a peek at the many conventional markings you will be using before you begin.
You may have to try this several times before you begin to get good at it.  Practice makes perfect in all we do. Taking running records is no exception.

Now try 
Omissions, Insertions, Appeals, 
and what to do when the
Teacher Tells the word to the student.

More Practice

If you would like more practice, check out the audio tape placed on reserve in the library called, Running Records Self Study Tutoring Guideby P. Johnston ISBN 1-57110-321-X.  Although we will only touch on general basic running records in this class, it will be helpful for you to know the extent to which running record taking can go.  You will be using this in future SFA classes and in your own teaching one day.  

Begin practicing on your friends TODAY.  Ask them to read slowly for you and to make one kind of miscue at a time.   Later, your friend can speed up and make several kinds of miscues in one reading.  Like anything, with practice, you'll get better and better.


How do I interpret the results of my running record?
What we learn tells us how to help.  Assessment informs instruction.

Calculating Text difficulty
To calculate text difficulty,simply divide the total number of words the child read correctly by the total number of words he read (we count the following miscues as errors:  substitutions, reversals, mispronunciations, omissions, long pauses, insertions)
# Correct     (divided by)    #Total words

There are three levels of difficulty for kids when reading books:

Easy........Independent......95%-l00% accuracy (l00% = missed no words at all)
Medium....Instructional.......90-94% accuracy (best with teacher coaching student)
Hard.........Frustrational......below 90%  (90% = missed l in every 10 words)

This information tells us how difficult the text is for that child.

It helps us identify what level to send home as homework and the right level for testing in class (Independent level).

It tells which level is best for the student when working with the teacher (instructional / where he will make a few mistakes but not too many / this way, the teacher can be right there to 'make her point' when the miscue occurs). The teacher coaches or "guides" the student at this level to 'fine tune' his reading and to help break any 'bad reading habits.'

It tells us which level for the student to avoid (frustrational) since it may turn off the reader.  Frustrational levels are sometimes salient for students on certain occasions (when seeking something important to learn for that moment), but it should be the student who pushes himself into frustrational level text, not you.

Listening Level - It is interesting to notice that a younger child can usually "listen" above the level he can read and speak.  When we read to kids above their reading and speaking levels, we can improve their vocabulary.


Miscue Analysis
What do his errors (miscues) mean?
The miscues tell you what "tools" the student is using when he comes to a word he doesn't know.  They also tell you which "tools" he isn't using when he finds such a "road block."  This information is helpful to the teacher. It tells the teacher the student's strengths and it tells the teacher where s/he can help the student improve reading.

As discussed in class, readers mainly use 3 cueing systems (tools) for unlocking difficult words.

For instance, a child may be reading this page.

text about fishing

He may be doing fine until he comes to a word he doesn't know.
He will have to do something to figure out the unknown word.
Teachers watch closely to see what the student will do.
The strategy the student uses tells the teacher how many "tools"
the student has at his disposal for reading the page.

Teachers are watching to see which of these 3 "tools" (strategies)
the student is using to figure out the unknown words:

M = semantics.............(meaning) 
                                        what word would make sense here?
                                        read it the way the child read it / does it make sense?

S = syntax.....................(language / sentence structure)
                                        read it as the child read it / does it sound like the child would "talk"?

                                        did the child furnish a noun, adjective, or an -ing word
                                        we sometimes use language and are unaware of it
V = grapho-phonics...(letter-sounds)
                                         did he try to "sound it out?" even if he only got
                                         the first letter-sound right
                                         does it "look" like the word (beginning, middle, and/or end)

Let's look as some examples:   

What tools (cueing systems) is these students using/not using?






How do I check fluency rate?
Simply place a mark on your paper while taking your running record to show when 60 seconds are up.  Count the words he read correctly in 60 seconds and you will have  _____wcpm (words correct per minute).

Please note: we do NOT count insertions as errors or it would mess up our calculations too much. Otherwise, it is basically the same as for running records.

# Correct          (in 1 minute)
We like to see the end of first grade kids read 60 wcpm.
We like to see the end of 2nd grade kids read 80-90 wcpm.
We like to see the end of 3rd grade kids read around l00 wcpm.

When a child reads for more than one minute:
#Correct     x .60    (divided by)     #Total minutes

What is fluency?
+ accuracy +expression (prosody)We're not running a race.  Nor are we turtle-reading.  We need to read with a certain amount of speed in order to remember what we read.  If we read too slowly, we are probably too busy trying to figure out the words and usually forget what we read.  If we read too quickly, we may miss some things.  Fluent readers are super expressive accurate readers--the kind of reading you do when you read a book you enjoy to a child who is loving every minute of it!




Is he using:
M - yes  (could make sense)
S - yes (both are nouns)
- no (no attempt to 'sound out' the word, not even the begininng sound is the same)

How to Help:
This student is "reading for meaning."  He probably loves his books and happily discusses their content with you.  But, he is not attending to print.  We might say he is relying on semantics at the expense of grapho-phonics. 

A teacher might ask this student to look again at this sentence.  She might point to the beginning sound and ask the child what the word might beginining with the /s/ sound....
  She would encourage him to "sound it out."  She might put him in texts that have more "decodable" words to better focus his attention on using his alphabetic principle (phonics skills).  She might encourage him to write more where he would have to look more closely at how words are spelled. She might ask him which page he likes best and then re-write one of those sentences on a sentence strip, have him read it, then chop it up and mix the words around to see if he can reassemble the words into a sentence (keeping it game-like and fun).


Is he using:
M - no (houses don't trot away!)
S - yes (both are nouns)
- yes (look similar / beginning sound is same / although he obviously isn't very good at decoding, he is attempting to use this cueing strategy and we must give him credit for trying to use it.)

How to Help:
This child seems to be relying on visual cues at the expense of meaning.  He is not using semantics.  We might say to him, "Let's re-read that said___, does that make sense?"   Keep it light and fun.  Don't make the reader feel bad.  It is a risk-freesetting.  We are all  in a learning mode.
 But we DO want to draw this student's attention to "making sense" as he reads.
By the way, he seems to be using syntax at an unconscious level but as with any miscue analysis, it is best to have more than one example so you can look for and identify "patterns" of behavior to really "know" what the student is doing in order to best help him.


Is he using:
M - no (nonsense words do NOT make sense)
S - no (usually if nonsense word, usually syntax not being used either)
-yes (he is trying to 'sound it out' using the decoding strategy even if he still needs to look a little more closely)

How to Help:
Similar to the one above.  A teacher might say to this child, "Let's re-read that sentence...You said____, does that make sense?"  You can clearly see here that this student could use some more reading "tools" in his toolbox.  This child is over-relying on phonics; he needs to begin using semantics and syntax so that he can identify that word more quickly and move on.


Is he using:
M - hum....???? possibly / use your BEST judgement 
and be able to tell why you made that informed decision.
Teachers do not always agree but they are usually close
and they try very hard to stay consistent from child to child.
S - yes  (notice the -ing /seems to be some attempt)
yes (begins with "s" and ends with "ing" /indicates some use of decoding or letter-sound strategy)

How to Help:
A teacher might draw this student's attention to the beginning of the word, looking more closely and noting the word begins with "sh" / she might also point out that the sentence doesn't sound quite right.... or she may wait till this reader comes to another "roadblock" where it may be more obvious the reader is not using semantics before she makes her point. Teachers are selective about when best to make their move.


What is a Retell?

According to Reutzel and Cooter (2003), retellings are ideal for finding out if a child understands the story he just read. Simply pull out a pupet or stuffed toy from a hidden box and ask the child to tell the story in her own words to the puppet who has not heard the story.  You can ask questions and, generally, if the child can answer approx.'ly 75% of them, he has understood what he read.  We must be careful not to equate "memory"  with understanding as one reads.  This is why that figure is not l00%. 

There are two kinds of questions you can ask the child:

Implicit - literal, obvious and "stated in the book" kinds of questions.
                What color was the wagon?
                What did the boy do first?  What did he call his mother?

Explicit - inferential, "hidden meaning" kinds of questions (much harder)
                 or higher-order "what if" kinds of questions.
                 Why do you think the boy was sad (what makes you think that?)
                 What could the little boy have done to make things easier on his friend?

Things to noticewhen children retell their stories:
Can they summarize, give you the general "gist" of what they read?
Are they beginning to include story grammar (setting, main characters, plot....)?
How is their language and speech development?
Do they have "sense of audience" or do they retell it as if the puppet had read it?


. . . optional reading


Too much work. . .can technology help?

Maybe it's on its way!

General Expectations

End of lst grade...........Reading Rec level 16..........  60 wcpm
End of 2nd grade.........2nd grade texts...................  + 20 - 30 wcpm
End of 3rd grade..........3rd grade texts....................  + 20 - 30 wcpm

More INFO on Taking Running Records

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