Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sunday Scoop: reading assessment and freebie

Report cards are looming. You know how that feels. Stressful. On the positive side, I've been pro-active about getting running records done over the last month so I only have 6 left to do. And 3 of those are kids who are "exceeding expectations" in our current educational jargon, so they'll be fun to listen to. 
In our school district we are required to do running records for kids in second and third grades every term. Grade one's get a hiatus first term. From this particular assessment, anyway......
We use Nelson's PM Benchmarks kits. I really enjoy doing running records with the students, for a whole bunch of reasons. 

1.  When it's their turn, they feel very special to have me all to themselves. This still surprises me after only a thousand + times (16 years x 22 kids x 5 assessments each - I usually do at least 6/year/student now, but lots of years I had firsties). Seriously, I sometimes think I could give out prize tickets for this and they'd be thrilled!
2.  I get a really good first-hand snapshot of where they're at, and what their strengths and challenges are. 
3.  I know you're nor supposed to jump in, but I do anyway, because it's a great opportunity for one-on-one instruction if you notice that they're encountering a difficulty. But not a minor one; those can wait until they're done reading. Usually when I do this it's to get them to try a reading strategy that they're missing. And very often it's the one I call "my magic strategy":  skip over, read on, then go back and read the sentence again. Even though I teach this strategy at the beginning of the year (except in grade one where it's a bit later) many of the kids who have struggled a bit with reading are so stuck on sounding out that they've never tried this strategy until they do it during a running record session. I LOVE the way their eyes light up when they figure the word out from reading it in context. It definitely is magical FOR ME!  (Even though I code it as an error:  TG "skip over strat". ) The next time I listen to them they're just about sure to use it with a look of triumph. 

I made reading strategy bookmarks that they glue onto construction paper and I laminate. They keep them in their Home Reading bags to remind them of some options if they're struggling with an unfamiliar word. I also keep one out on my table during my running record sessions. If you'd like a FREE set click HERE
4.  I get to make an immediate positive comment or two about their reading. 
5.  I get to listen to them retell which not only gives me excellent insight into their comprehension, but provides information for the 'Listening and Speaking' reporting section. 
6.  I find out things beyond what level they're reading fluently at. For example, it sometimes is surprising when a child struggles through a book, sounding out lots of words, and then demonstrates excellent comprehension of the text. Or the opposite:  they read fluently and expressively, but hardly recall anything (which is often not that they CAN'T comprehend it, but that they're so focused on doing an impressive job of reading that they're not listening to what they're reading). In this case I usually tell them that I'd like them to read a different passage silently, paying attention to what they're reading, and then I have them retell it when they're done. Usually they do a great job the second time when the pressure of performing isn't part of the equation. 
7.  I get a very good idea if it's time to do a mini lesson on a particular aspect of reading with the whole class or a small group. 

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.  Tomorrow I'm going to the Barra MacNeils' Christmas concert with my family.  (It's a birthday present!)  They come around this way every couple of years and it's always a treat to hear them perform. The highlight is always when Lucy sings O Holy Night.

 I was also lucky enough to attend the Lunenberg Folk Festival in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago and they were there all week.  It was fabulous!

I'm linking up with Teaching Trio this week for The Sunday Scoop.  HOpe you've had a great weekend!


  1. Oh gosh...I need to go through all of my files too. I just loathe that chore! Thanks for linking up this week.

    Myranda (

  2. Hope your reports are done! I just have to proof mine now.
    Thanks for the bookmarks!
    Grade ONEderful