Wednesday, July 16, 2014

running records tutorial

Hey there! Do you use Running Records to inform you instruction with groups of students? If you're not doing so yet, you need to start ASAP! You will glean so much information about your kiddos by listening to them read, recording their miscues, and having a comprehension conversation with them!

I've created a running record using Reading A-Z's benchmark book. The book is a level I fiction book (first grade) and the comprehension conversation is aligned to Fountas and Pinnell's Benchmark Assessment System.

Head on over to my TpT store to download it and then read this blog while you take a look at the form.

This form goes with the Reading A-Z Benchmark book, On Vacation. It's Level I which correlates approximately to March or April of 1st grade.

Okay so let's start with the front of the doc. When you sit down with a child to give them a running record, you'll need a copy of the book, a copy of this form, a pen or pencil, a timer, and a calculator (or you can use this calculator by FnP!)

Make sure you read the whole book first, as the child will only read part of it aloud to you. You will place the book in front of the child and read them the prompt from the form, "Read this story about a girl who visits her grammy. You'll read pages 3 through 8 aloud to me and then finish in your head before we talk about the book together."

The child will begin reading and you'll start the timer. Record the miscues the child makes on your recording sheet. If you have the FnP calculator, you can keep the timer going until the child finishes page 8, but if you don't, pay attention to the 1 minute mark and mark spot where the child finishes a minute's worth of reading. After the child finishes reading reading page 8, have them finish in their head while you work on some data points.

Record the time right away in the box below. Record the number of errors the child made in the time read aloud - but note: if the child self-corrects, it's as if they didn't make an error, so don't count that. Record the number of self corrections. If you're using a regular stopwatch and marked the words read in one minute, record the total words read correctly (subtract the errors). I usually did it like this:

Next, you're going to find the accuracy. To calculate this, follow this formula:
(Total words read - Total errors) / Total words read x 100 = Accuracy Rate

In this case we'd have the following formula:
(98-3) / 98 x 100 = 96.9%

Go ahead and record the accuracy percentage. At this time, the child should have finished reading the text and you'll be ready to flip the recording sheet over and have a conversation about the book.

(If you have a FnP calculator, follow the directions for collecting all the data. You'll get a larger sample so your data will be just a little bit more accurate!)

The Comprehension Conversation will always include three questions from three different categories: Within the Text, Beyond the Text, and About the Text. Let me give you a brief explanation of these three kinds of questions before I discuss the ratings.

Within the Text - This question deals with what is right there for the kids to read, and I always make this question a retell question. In addition to retelling, the evaluator could make notes of how the child solves words, monitors their reading, searches for and uses information, maintains their fluency, and adjusts their reading when they are trying to problem solve.

Beyond the Text - These questions are inferential in nature and require the reader to think with their own background knowledge and experiences added to what the text said. These questions will require children to predict, make connection, synthesize, and infer.

About the Text - These types of questions will ask the child to comment on the author's craft and structure or ask the child to critique the text.

So now we're ready for page 2:
Update: I've done a little bit of revision to this, including the type of question for each category. In this case, the Within the Text question is Summarizing, Beyond the Text is Inferring, and About the text is Analyzing. I've also added suggested answers to make your note-taking on the text easier!

There is plenty of space for recording the child's answers. These are great forms because as you save them, you have lots of information to inform your instruction in guided reading and also share with parents at conferences or if a parent requests information on their child's progress!

Let's discuss ratings for the Comprehension Conversation:

In all cases, a 0 score would indicate the child did not answer at all. A 3 would indicate that the child gave an excellent answer, sequenced correctly (if applicable) and with multiple responses (if applicable). Additionally, a 3 would also be for an answer that had to be justified with evidence from the text or background knowledge, which the child could provide. When a child attempt an answer, but does so incorrectly, I score them at a 1.

Within the Text - For a child to score three points, they have to tell you a really good summary, sequenced correctly, when you ask them about the book. For me, I score down to a two if I have to prompt them lots (feel free to prompt the child with more questions!) but in our district we've had many conversations about this. Some people believe that if you prompt the child with 10 questions and they get them all right, that is still a three. It's my personal opinion that a child earns a three only if they retell flawlessly and talk easily about the book without being prompted. I mean, isn't that what we're striving for, anyways?

Like I said in a post the other day - this is messy work! Don't beat yourself up when you begin this kind of assessment - as you learn, you will refine your procedures and knowledge of the assessments and books!

Beyond and About the Text - Again, scoring is a matter of hearing various children read the same text and answer the same questions before you can really hear who has the 3 answer, the 2 answer, and the 1 answer. Just keep in mind that a 3 is Excellent, a 2 is satisfactory, a 1 limited, and a 0 unsatisfactory.

Tip: Rate the child right away! Do not save the scoring of the 0-1-2-3 until the child walks back to their seat. You'll do a better job if you just make a snap decision in that moment based on what you heard and the notes you wrote.

Once you have finished scoring the child's conversation, determine the amount of points they get, with 9 being the max. There is an option to give an additional point, but I use that very sparingly - you'll know it when you hear the conversation. There will be a kid at one point or another who blows you away with the connections or inferences they make - usually just as you begin the retell - that is the time to give the extra point!

Here are the scores and ratings for the Comprehension Conversation:

Once you list this information on the front page in the boxes to the bottom of the text of the story, you can then determine if the level of the book the child is reading is Independent, Instructional, or Hard. Here are the qualifiers to make that decision:

As the reading levels go up past level K, there are different qualifiers. So, make sure (if you use this sample running record) you are looking at the A-K qualifiers, since this running record is for level I.

Remember, the independent level is the level at which the child can read the book on their own with no support - this should be where they read for their Just Right books. The Instructional level will challenge them just a little - this is the level you'll want to use in guided reading. Finally, the hard level is just so you know when they frustrate. Sometimes students can be independent and instructional at a range, so keep testing up in the beginning of the year until you have their hard level!

Well, I'm tired of writing this novel of a blog. I'm sure I've forgotten things and I can always go back and add a follow up, so no worries. What I want to know from my readers is if this kind of doc is something you'd like to have and that you'd use in your classroom? Thoughts? How can I make it better? Please share what is confusing, too, and I can elaborate!

By the way...the book below is one you need to own. I used it as I created the comprehension questions and it's super helpful for instruction!

That's all for today! Happy Wednesday!


  1. The Continuum of Literacy Learning is a must-own book, in my opinion. It assists my decision making regarding the direction I need to take to support the students' progress. I often grab it from the shelf. Looking forward to checking out your TPT creation! ;)

  2. Great explanation of the running record form--I think it is something that would be helpful to me and my teaching buddies.

  3. Oh man, this is one aspect of first grade that I am not particularly excited about...the never-ending assessments!

    thanks for sharing, though, that was a great refresher!

    Ventaneando: A Window Into First Grade Bilingüe

  4. Michelle, nice explanation of the components of a running record! Personally, I just use a spiral notebook for my data. My district purchased the Fountas and Pinnell benchmark kits, so we're expected to use those.
    Not very fancy

  5. Every time I look at your blog, I stop to look at your picture feed for a moment and wonder how you did that. Is it your Instagram feed? Is it from blogger or somewhere else?
    Thanks for hosting the challenge, by the way...
    Sarah from Mrs. Jones Teaches :o)

    1. Hey there! It actually is my Instagram feed - if you google something like "Instagram Widget for Blogger" you can find instructions for putting on one your blog! Let me know if you have any more questions and I can try and help!
      Thanks for linking up with the challenge!


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