Going beyond the checkmarks and other conventions of running records to understand students' reading behaviors
You know how when you play the telephone game, you start with one message and by the time you get to the last person, the message changed dramatically from the original message. Well, that is what has happened with running records. Running records are an observation tool that has dramatically morphed into an assessment tool. Marie Clay created running records to be used as an observational tool to get a snapshot of how students process text. Clay's book An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (2000) emphasizes that the qualitative data, the analysis of the running record (MSV) is equally as important as the quantitative data (accuracy rate, text level, etc.) to inform instructional decision-making.
In order to support our readers in strengthening their literacy processing system, we have to take note of what sources of information our readers are using and neglecting. It's the MSV part of the running record that, let's confess, sometimes gets neglected.
'M' for meaning
Is the reader using or neglecting meaning?
Does the student's response make sense?
'S' for structure
Is the reader using or neglecting the structure of English?
Does the student's response sound right?
And lastly, 'V' is for visual, the print
What visual information is the student attending to or neglecting?
Does the student's response look right?
Additionally, we take note of other reading behaviors, such as, is the student monitoring and self-correcting, are they searching for information to help them at point of difficulty or do they skip over the word, appeal to the teacher, and so forth.
Once we've analyzed our running records we now have juicy and informative qualitative and quantitative data on our readers to guide our instructional decisions. We get to know our readers beyond the text level and have more information to ensure our small group teaching is precise, concise and tailored to students' specific needs. That is why our Flying Start to Literacy™ resource includes a running record (with MSV :) ) for every text pair in the collection. It's a tool included to support teachers and students as they work together to strengthen each student's literacy processing system.
Running records are a tool used to observe student reading behaviors to guide instructional decision-making. Have a running record analysis party with your colleagues and discuss your readers beyond the text level and focus on MSV, the student's reading behaviors.