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I believe that running records are a super important component of good guided reading instruction. Sometimes, we think we know our students and their reading habits inside and out, but… when we actually sit down, listen to them read, and write down exactly what they say or do, we may find that we don’t know them quite as well as we thought. The data obtained from running records can help save so much planning time - what your students most need to work on is written right in front of you! Sounds great, right?? Read on to find out how reading records look in my classroom!
A little disclaimer:
Running records - fiches de lecture. Hopefully we all know what they are - a tool to use to help us notice student reading behaviours, and then guide our teaching. However, most teachers I know still have questions about running records - namely, how to do them, how to find the time to get them done, how often to do them, and what to do with the results.
Because I am such a believer in running records, I make it a goal to do at least one per day. Yup, one per day! If I hit that goal, it keeps all of my student data current within three weeks. Sound too optimistic? Don’t worry - I will explain how I do that below. But, before I continue...
A little disclaimer:
You may find that I do running records differently than you do - and that’s okay! I am not trying to say that my way is the only way - it is simply a way. This post (and blog, for that matter!) is just to give you some ideas of what you can do in your classroom, not what you have to do. Also, while I aim to do a running record every day, these daily running records look very different from the ones I submit to my board three times a year. They are really just notes for me about my students’ reading behaviour, that I then use to further guide my instruction. If a student’s results show that their book was too easy or too hard, I don’t sweat it. We try a different book the next time.
I also received training on how exactly my board wants these done my very first year of teaching. During my very first month of teaching. Know what my goal was then? To survive each day and get every kid on the right bus haha. I am sure that I have forgotten some things I was taught at that training, and that I have adapted and changed other things. Do what works for you and your students!
Okay, let's get into it!
Basically, I do my running records two different ways, depending on what kind of information I want to know. Usually, I do them on a cold read - the first time a student tries a new book. Sometimes, I do them on a book that my student has practiced with me once only, earlier in the day or the day before. But, if I am doing a cold read, I always, always, always do a picture walk first!! You can read more about that here.
No matter which type I am doing, I make sure we are in a quiet(ish) place where my student and I won't be distracted. Before we start, I remind my student that this is not a test. I am just writing down what they already know how to do, and what we need to practice a bit more. I am taking notes about what they do when they get to tricky words - do they look at Madame? Do they look at the sky? Or do they try a strategy?
It is also important to remind them that, during this read, you won't be helping them if they get stuck. This is about what they can do, not what you can do! If you like, ask your student to name a couple of things they can try when they get to a tricky word, to get them ready to go.
Tell your student the title of the book (this automatically gives them a successful start), and then don't say a word. Sit back, listen, and take notes. Try not to even react non-verbally. This is hard, but important! You need to know what your student would do if you weren't there, and they were reading on their own. The ultimate goal is to raise independent readers, so make your students problem solve on their own!
**Use your judgement, obviously - if a student has spent 10 minutes on the same word, you're going to have to tell them to move on ;)
Here is a picture of one of my running records. They are not beautiful or neat... they are just for me! All the words my student read correctly are recorded with a checkmark. To note something they read incorrectly, I write what they said, put a line under that word, and write the actual word from the text below the line. This helps me see if they were using clues that made sense, or if they just pulled a word out of the air.
Sometimes, a student realizes that what they said doesn't make sense. That is a great reading behaviour, and I always make sure to write it down!! If a student self corrects an error, I write AC inside of a circle beside where I had marked the error.
If a student repeats a word or a phrase, I mark an R and indicate what all they repeated with an arrow. Sometimes, a lot of repetition is an indication of poor fluidité, and sometimes it can be a good strategy if they are trying to self correct something that didn't make sense.
The running record sheets that I use I made myself, to help make my life easier! I found it confusing to use the sheets that my board provided, and wanted a simple, quick way to note which strategies my students use. So, I put a little picture of each of the strategies I teach (more about those here!) at the bottom, and I just circle them when a student uses one. I love it because I can see what my students are doing automatically and/or often, and I can see what they need to keep practicing. And when I show them what they did, they understand. If you own my Lecture guidée en maternelle pack, these are included inside!
When finished, I give my student a score for their fluidité out of 4. I also calculate how many times they self corrected (how many corrections : how many total errors (including the ones they corrected). I reduce the ratio to 1, so if it was 2 corrections : 6 total errors, I would write 1:3). I also calculate what percentage of words my student read correctly, to help make sure the book was a good fit for them.
If you look at the records above, you may think that the first student did better, as he read with a 95% accuracy. But, look at his fluidité! We obviously had to work on that before I could move him up to a 6. The second student also self corrected twice as often, which tells me that she is listening to herself to make sure that what she reads makes sense. Also, even though I had taught and practiced la chenille (read the word in chunks) with student number one, he didn't use that strategy when reading. What does that mean? He needs more practice!
Your board's numbers may differ, but for us, anything less than 90% = difficult, 90-94% = instructional, 95%+ = easy. We want our students reading books with a 90-94% accuracy, because that means they are learning new words while reading, but the book is not too difficult (to calculate: (correct words/total words) x 100%). But those percentages don't always tell the whole story, so be careful! There is more to reading than just reading words correctly :)
But when do I have time to do all this?? Well, one of the best times for me to take notes is during their first read through during our guided reading session. After we do a picture walk together, one student reads through our new book on their own, while I read with the other and take notes.
I like this time for a few reasons:
- It's easy! I already have my groups, my other students are all already otherwise occupied, and they are all trained to not interrupt
- I can see what would happen if my student picked up that book to read on their own for the first time
- I can see them use strategies, rather than relying on memory - I know exactly what they would be able to do without me helping them with a first read-through
If I am doing a running record for my board, I structure it a bit differently. I do a full read-through with my student one day, generally first thing in the morning. Before we start reading, we do a picture walk together, check out all tricky words, I show them what strategies to use, and they practice. This time, I help them and show them a strategy to try if they get stuck. We re-read later (the next morning or the end of the day), and that's when I take notes. It is nice to see if they try the same strategy I showed them!
This is what my board likes, but I am unconvinced on the real usefulness of taking notes on their second read through. I find it boosts their levels, and my students usually end up with a higher instructional level than if I take notes on their first read-through. I believe this is because they can rely more on memory - I see them using strategies far less, because they just remember most of the tricky words from the day before. I personally find a cold read is better for guiding my instruction, but that's just me! My real objective is to get my students reading independently, not just correctly!
If I need to fit in time for a double read through for my board, I often pull a student first thing in the morning, after busses arrive but before the bell, or I will take just one student at a time during our guided reading block rather than my groups. For the second read through and note-taking, I try to pull them during our library block, reading buddies, or those rare moments when everyone else is working quietly and independently ;)
WHAT DO I DO WITH THE RESULTS?
I store all of my running records in a binder (pictured below). Each student has a number and their sheets go in their section.
The binder also has pockets inside, so if I am planning to pull students while we are in the library, it is easy to transport everything we need!
Keeping all of my students' records together really helps me see their progress and what we need to work on next. Once one strategy is mastered, I can move on to the next one with that group.
Sometimes, I see that one partner is ready for a new strategy, but the other is not, and so I change up my groups. But I always, always, use what I learn to plan my future guided reading sessions!
Hopefully this post has helped clarify some things about running records for you! I am curious - are you required to submit reading record results to your school board? How often? Let me know in the comments, and have a great week!