We are going to continue our conversation around Jennifer Serravallo’s Five Lenses to Assess and Teach Readers. Two weeks ago, we discussed engagement, including methods of assessing engagement in students and classrooms. Last week, we covered the different aspects of fluency: automaticity, intonation/expression/prosody, phrasing/parsing, emphasis, and pace. Each lens is important on its own, but you will get the clearest sense of a student by using the five lenses together.
Let’s dive into print work/decoding, focusing on running records and the three cueing systems readers tend to use.
Running records were made mainstream by Marie Clay as a way to record what students do as you sit and listen to them read. A running record can help you gain insight about a student’s miscues, fluency, and comprehension when reading a text that is just right and reading a text that is at an instructional level. Jennifer also recommends that you take a running record using a text one level above a student’s just-right level to give you a window into what readers do when they encounter difficulty.
We touched on using running records to help you assess fluency last week. When you take a running record, you are collecting data that will help you understand exactly what a student does as they read. To take a running record, record what you hear as a student reads. Record when words are read correctly and when a child says something different from what is on the page. This could include insertions, deletions, sounding out behavior, appeals for help, repetitions, and alternate pronunciations.
When you take a running record, you are collecting data that will help you understand exactly what a student does as they read.
There are three cueing systems all readers use: visual, meaning, and syntax. Running records offer numerous opportunities to assess children’s use of these three cueing systems as they read. Print work is best assessed and taught in the context of meaning, so that a reader is constantly practicing their ability to integrate what they know about letters and sounds (visual), with what is happening in the story (meaning), and how language works (syntax). To determine which of these three cueing systems a student is using and not using, you can ask yourself three questions.
- Does that mistake/self-correction/error look right? (visual)
- Does that mistake/self-correction/error make sense? (meaning)
- Does that mistake/self-correction/error sound right? (syntax)
While a student reads, count the number of times the student uses the meaning, syntax, and visual cueing systems. To analyze each miscue, you’ll read up to, but not beyond, the point of error. Each miscue can be analyzed to see which of the cueing systems a student uses consistently, inconsistently, or never. By recording and analyzing each miscue, you’ll be able to look back and notice patterns that can help determine what you teach. Seek out some of the work of Marie Clay for more in depth coverage of running records and miscue analysis.
Do you currently take running records in your class? As you consider print work/decoding, what resonates?
We have created blank versions of some of the tools Jennifer talks about to help assess readers. These are for you to download and use in your classrooms. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for both Microsoft Word and PDF versions.
For more tips, examples, and strategies from Jennifer Serravallo, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #literacylenses.
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Jennifer Serravallo is a national literacy consultant and the bestselling author or coauthor of the Heinemann titles Teaching Reading in Small Groups, Conferring with Readers, The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades K–2, and The Literacy Teacher’s Playbook Grades 3–6. She started out teaching grades 3–5 in Title I schools and then spent eight years as a national staff developer at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.