When I set up personal boxes for students that presumes that I know a lot about their reading levels and their reading abilities, and my primary vehicle for figuring out what students know about reading, what they're able to read independently or what's at an instructional level for them is running records. I take running records frequently with my students, almost always in the context of either guided reading or independent reading. What I'll often do is introduce a text for guided reading, have the students work through the book and read it, and then after, through a second reading, I'll take a running record on the spot to see if that text is at their instructional level or if they're moving towards their independent reading level.
During independent reading I also like to take running records as students are reading independently from either their personal boxes or from their browsing bins, I will do spot checks, and call a student over with the book that they're reading and have a one-on-one reading conference with them, where I ask them to read aloud to me, as I take a running record. And it will give me a very good sense when I analyze it if that book is in fact at their independent reading level, because that's what I'm looking for during independent reading, that students are reading those books with a fairly high degree of accuracy and definitely good comprehension.
The goal of Guided and Independent Reading: Running Records (Virtual Tour) is to assess students' reading fluency and comprehension skills in order to help them improve their understanding of what they read as well as provide extensive appropriate practice with reading aloud.
- Small-group instruction provides opportunities for the teacher to offer guidance and feedback to all students.
- Guided reading sessions should be kept between 10-20 minutes and can be of mixed-ability or leveled groupings, depending on lesson begin taught. Choose texts that are appropriate for your lesson.
- Focus on a reading strategy with which a small group of students are having difficulty. Introduce vocabulary and invite the students to make predictions before reading.
- Have the students read the text silently. As students read to themselves invite each group member to read aloud in a quiet whisper voice. Record anecdotal notes in a conference binder.
- Running records allow you to assess a student's reading fluency and comprehension, are objective and reliable. Once you have assessed students you will be able to plan for instruction and provide students with appropriate texts and reading material.
- Explicitly modeling what reading independently looks like provides students with a visual representation of the activity expectations.