Using Running Records as a Reading-Stage Activity
In this reading-stage activity, teachers observe individual students as they read aloud and record information to analyze their reading fluency (Clay, 2000). They calculate the percentage of words the student reads correctly and then analyze the miscues or errors. Teachers make a checkmark on a copy of the text as the student reads each word correctly and use other marks to indicate words that the student doesn’t know or mispronounces.
Teachers conduct running records with individual students using these steps:
- Choose a book. Teachers have the student choose an excerpt at least 100 words in length from a book he or she is reading for the assessment. For beginning readers, the text can be shorter.
- Take the running record. As the student reads the excerpt aloud, the teacher records information about the words read correctly as well as those misread. The teacher makes checkmarks on a copy of the text for each word read correctly and uses other marks for miscues.
- Calculate the percentage of miscues. Teachers calculate the percentage of miscues by dividing the number of miscues by the total number of words read. When the student makes 5% or fewer errors, the book is considered to be at the student’s independent level. When there are 6–10% errors, the book is at the student’s instructional level, and when there are more than 10% errors, the book is too difficult— the student’s frustration level.
- Analyze the miscues. Teachers look for patterns in the miscues in order to determine how the student is growing as a reader and what strategies and skills should be taught next.
Many teachers conduct running records on all their students at the beginning of the school year and at the end of grading periods. In addition, teachers do running records more often during guided reading groups and with students who aren’t making expected progress in reading to diagnose their reading problems and make instructional decisions.
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