3 Ways a Running Record Informs Guided Reading Instruction - Simply Skilled Teaching

3 Ways a Running Record Informs Guided Reading Instruction

3-ways-a-running-record-informs-guided-reading-instruction

Running Record to the rescue!

The great thing about a running record assessment is that it can be done quickly and informally; and you can administer it during a Guided Reading block. Unlike formal assessments, you can do a running record on the fly and quickly analyze and benefit from the results.

When you introduce a new book during Guided Reading instruction, use this opportunity to complete running records on a couple of students in the group. Doing a “cold reading” on a brand new book they’ve never encountered will give you a good picture of where students are in their use of reading strategies. As you analyze the data that results from these initial assessments, it can help drive your instruction as you plan the strategies and skills you will teach in the next lesson.

Our goal in Guided Reading is to ensure that our students are receiving the specific instructional tools and strategies they need to move ahead. When you invest your time to complete a running record, the payoff can be big!

How can you receive the greatest return on the time you’ve invested in a running record? Use the data! I can’t stress this enough. The data and results you obtain from administering a running record are worthless until they are analyzed and applied.

Before you complete your next running record and begin interpreting the results, consider the 3 best ways to use the information you uncover.

1. Use a Running Record Analysis Immediately
Through Direct Feedback

A running record may reveal issues you can address quickly, through direct instruction that takes place immediately after the assessment concludes. After the student finishes the oral reading, give them encouragement and a “pat-on-the-back!” Affirm them for any areas of strength the assessment revealed. Then take a moment to share some quick instructional reminders and decoding strategies they can use right away.

Short, informal running records can be done quickly during Guided Reading, and some results can be addressed immediately. Share brief, constructive feedback that includes targeted teaching strategies, reminders or corrective instruction.

Use running records data analysis immediately, providing corrective instruction and support via direct feedback when appropriate.

2. Use a Running Record Analysis Accurately
Through Targeted, Appropriate Use of Data Results

We all know that use of assessment data is not like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks. (Yuck–so glad!) But it’s also not necessary to be a statistician or research analyst to get the most of the assessment data we obtain.

To get the most out of assessment data, you simply need to know how to evaluate and use it accurately and deliberately.

  • Determine a Student’s Instructional Reading Level

    Use the assessment data to ensure the student is reading texts at the correct instructional level. This does not mean the student should never be allowed to encounter more challenging texts during independent reading times. It does, however, mean the texts they read during Guided Reading group should be at their appropriate instructional level. This ensures the correct degree of challenge and learning will occur, without repeated experiences of failure or frustration. Remember: We want to see our kiddos develop a love–not a dread–of reading!

  • Assign a Student to an Appropriately Leveled Guided Reading Group

    A streamlined Guided Reading approach allows you to form reading groups based on students’ reading level and abilities. Accordingly, you’ll provide instruction that is appropriate for where students are in their current reading development. Analyzing and using the data you gain from running records assessments will allow you to accurately and appropriately organize the composition of your Guided Reading groups.

    Sidenote! Module 3 of my upcoming course, Guided Reading That Works, contains a video lesson where I share my process for grouping students by level. I’ll break down the steps involved and show you the step-by-step methods I use to create leveled Guided Reading Groups.

  • Inform Your Individual Instruction

    Use the information from the assessment results to provide specific, differentiated instruction for the student. This involves immediate instruction at the conclusion of the assessment as well as  ongoing instruction during subsequent Guided Reading instructional times. Use these opportunities accordingly to address the needs you’ve identified.

    Did the assessment reveal the student is relying solely on visual cues when they read? If so, use this information to guide and differentiate your instruction. Focus on giving this student the strategies they need to master the use of the other two cueing systems.

  • Inform Your Whole-Class Instruction

    Running records combined with anecdotal notes should also serve to guide your whole-class instruction. Pay attention to patterns that emerge as you compare results for several students. Use those patterns to guide you in planning. They’ll help you to identify the strategies and skills that need reinforcement or review, in addition to introducing new concepts. Use whole-class instruction time to address Phonics, Spelling, and Sight Word Instruction, along with the teaching you provide with your small groups during the Guided Reading block.

  • Scaffold Students

    The running record data you uncover will highlight areas where you can provide scaffolded instruction. To move your students forward in their literacy and fluency goals, analyze and respond to the data. Use the results to provide targeted instruction and ongoing encouragement. Note specific strategies they need to practice and word attack skills they need to master. Give them effective ways to use and apply these strategies and skills to become independent, fluent readers who read to learn.

  • Evaluate a Student’s Readiness to Advance

    Remember: One of the benefits of a Guided Reading approach is its flexibility. A student who struggles at the beginning of the year may thrive by the end of the academic year. It’s a matter of assigning them to an appropriately leveled reading group where they receive rigorous instruction on the concepts and strategies they need.

3. Apply Running Record Analysis Effectively
Through a Variety of Instructional Strategies…

Finally, use the various strategies listed below, as well as a variety of other approaches, to effectively address the learning needs uncovered through a running record.

  • Strategy Group

    These temporary strategic intervention groups allow you to provide specific, differentiated small group instruction that targets a specific need or trouble spot. These groups are created to address specific issues uncovered in assessment analysis. Use strategy groups to provide focused, specific coaching on a specific skill or concept.

  • One-to-One Instruction

    As opposed to using only the whole-class approach, Guided Reading allows you to provide one-to-one instruction with students you meet with during your literacy block. You’ll be surprised at the difference you can make through even a brief one-to-one instructional conversation. The key is to use data both from running records and anecdotal notes to guide your one-to-one, differentiated instruction.

  • Whole-Class Instruction

    Guided Reading does not mean the elimination of whole-class literacy instruction. At times a comparison of the data may reveal an area of shared struggle that calls for review or reinforcement via whole-class instruction. Coordinated use of both one-to-one and whole class instruction is the quickest and most efficient way to move all your students toward the goal of reading fluency.

  • Tracking Progress through Frequent Reassessment

    When it comes to running records, I recommend the pirate method: Assess…reassess…reassess…reassess…ARRR!
    Frequent assessment is the best way to ensure smooth sailing when it comes to evaluating your students reading success, and it’s the most effective way to help guide them through the rough seas of learning to read. Too many puns, I know! Sorry not sorry.  🙂

So, what can you learn from a running record?
Let’s review:

Analysis of running records helps you identify areas where direct instruction or intervention is needed for an individual student. In addition, it helps you uncover patterns as you compare the assessment results of multiple students. You’ll then address the areas of difficulty through individualized, one-to-one instruction, small group instruction, and whole-class review and reinforcement. You’ll also form temporary strategy groups to bring together small clusters of students and get them past their shared trouble spots.

As you administer subsequent running records throughout the year, use those results to track individual progress. Then level and group students accordingly. Best of all, utilize the flexibility Guided Reading affords as you move students forward in response to ongoing progress monitoring.  Appropriate leveling is an essential strategy to ensure the success of your Guided Reading framework.

Running Records can provide you with a gold mine of information on your students! As you invest your time to administer assessments, use the strategies I’ve just shared to get the most from your investment.

Remember: To help your students move ahead toward the goal of reading fluency, use the data!


If you’d like to join a community of teachers just like you, I have a private Facebook community where I share teaching ideas, tips and strategies. Better yet, I share freebies all the time with these private Facebook group members! So please click the link to join my Facebook  community of teachers.

mailto:Anna@SimplySkilledTeaching.com

Coming Soon!

If you’re looking for more strategic guidance on how to teach Guided Reading, check out my new course, Guided Reading That Works! Guided Reading that Works is jam-packed full of the information you need to have an effective and successful Guided Reading program. I’ll go in depth on all of the concepts I’ve covered in this post, plus so much more!

Thanks you for your commitment to teaching, and thanks for the time you invest in each student in your classroom. I know your investment will pay off in the form of a lifelong love of learning!

‘Bye for now, and happy teaching!

3 best ways running records inform guided reading instruction

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Anna DiGilio

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I'm Anna DiGilio

Hi, I'm Anna! I was a primary teacher for over twenty-three years, wife of a firefighter, mother of twin teenage boys, obsessed with being creative and helping teachers and love my Saturday morning quiet cup of coffee!
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Hi, I'm Anna! I was a primary teacher for over twenty-three years, wife of a firefighter, mother of twin teenage boys, obsessed with being creative and helping teachers and love my Saturday morning quiet cup of coffee!
Thanks for stopping by!

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