When students engage in reading on a daily basis, they are able to formulate reading strategies, practice strategies learned through shared and guided reading, and gain confidence as readers who are able to read independently. With daily practice and encouragement, students become more strategic and thoughtful readers who become more conscious about their reading strengths and limitations. During this time of reading development, teachers need to constantly assess their students’ progress and determine the instruction and resources needed to provide just the right amount of support. How do teachers determine which texts will challenge their readers without discouraging them? How can teachers measure reading progress? The answer is the running record. However, the running record does much more than provide a measurement. Sharon Taberski, the author of On Solid Ground: Strategies for Teaching Reading K-3, contends that “[running records] become more of a tool for teaching rather than an instrument to report on children’s status in class or stage of reading” (pg. 46). Running records inform instruction and serve assessment purposes: two qualities that lead to purposeful teaching. How to conduct, code and analyze a running record is beyond the scope of this post (Sharon Taberski’s book explains how to do these things much more eloquently, in my opinion); however, it is important to understand that assessment and instruction go together to meet the needs of today’s increasing diverse students.
The idea that an assessment is more of a tool for teaching than a form of measurement is key to understanding that children have reasons behind making the mistakes that they do. For example, reading, “My mom and I went shopping for food” instead of reading “My mom and I went shopping for groceries,” indicates that the student is reading for meaning and structure. Substituting the word food for groceries does not alter the meaning of the text and the structure of the English language is upheld. In this case, the student struggled with matching the visual features of the word with the sounds that those features represent. By analyzing this one miscue, we learned more about how to help this student than if we just counted the miscue as a mistake and moved on. Assuming that this student continually made similar miscues, we could direct the student’s attention to the visual features of the text and discuss what sounds those features represent. In other words, we could help this student develop strategies that deal with analyzing the visual features of text.
While browsing Youtube, I found a wonderful channel that provides early childhood educators advice about conducting running records, analyzing miscues and self-corrections, and activities that support children’s literacy development. The channel primarily targets younger children (i.e., kindergarten); however, those who teach older children will find some valuable information as well!
http://www.youtube.com/user/artfulreading (Seriously, take a look!)
For those of you still learning how to code and analyze running records, or just need to be reminded (I am still learning something new everyday!), below is a helpful video that explains how to analyze syntactical (structure), semantic (meaning), and graphophonic (visual) miscues.