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February 15, 2013

Managing Running Records in Kindergarten

Managing Running Records in Kindergarten!Managing Running Records in Kindergarten!
Managing Running Records in Kindergarten!


Today we are going to discuss different ways that doing running records to assess reading can be managed at the Kindergarten level.  Years ago, anyone would have thought that the words “running record” and “Kindergarten” would have never been intentionally paired up in the same sentence, since most children didn’t learn to read in Kindergarten!  However, it seems that the one time “garden for children” has become a great, big “Pressure Cooker Kindergarten” at many schools, and the evidence is showing up in the form of questions that pop up on my blog and Facebook Page about DIBELS testing, running records, and what to do about children that are not allowed to have any recess or play time anymore.

It saddens me that so many teachers are dealing with this sort of thing, and saddens me even more to think of the children that whose childhoods are being sacrificed simply because somebody decided that if children learn something earlier, they learn it better.  And I rather disagree with that statement!  I think that children should be given the opportunity to learn as much as they would like to learn in Kindergarten, but should be able to wait and learn some of it later if they are not ready yet.

Earlier this week, I received a comment on my blog from a Kindergarten teacher that was going to have to give her entire class reading running records every single week. She was concerned that she would not have any time to actually TEACH her class any skills at all, because all she would be doing is testing them continuously!  So she wanted to know if I had any tips or advice on how to manage running records in Kindergarten.
Now, I have done running records before in Kindergarten, but I’ve never had to do one for every child, every single week!  So I decided to post the question on my HeidiSongs Facebook Page, and see what came up.  Here are the highlights from the answers.  I hope that they are useful to you!  And if anyone else has any other suggestions, please let us know, because we would love to hear them!

Meanwhile, don’t forget that we are running our annual HeidiSongs Video Contest, so get those cameras rolling and send in your cute little videos of your class or your children at home!  We can’t wait to see them, and we can’t wait to see somebody win $300 in their choice of HeidiSongs products!  Here’s our most recent entry.  I love the shout-out at the end, and it is SO appropriate for this week!  We EVEN received this video ON VALENTINE’S DAY!!!!  Isn’t that just so cool???  I love it!


“Hoping someone can answer me about running records. We have never had to do them before in KG. We did DRA and teacher made assessments.  We had a workshop on Friday about running records and I hear we will have to do them weekly.  I don’t see how I will have enough time to give the students time to practice the lesson before assessment.  Any information on running records and KG is greatly appreciated.”

Donna Wadzeck: I haven’t done them in years but i would suggest doing just a few each day…example: 20 students…do 5 each day…by Friday all will be done…each one should only take about a minute..right???

Susan Miller-Gorbe: So a weekly running record for EACH kid?

Here is a link to some good information:

Running Records and Benchmark Books

Kathy Griffin: Weekly will be tough to fit in. I used to rotate through my students, so I did a running record on each kindergarten student at least once a month. Of course, if they moved up faster, then I would do a quick check. The level A, B, C or the lower DRA levels can be done quickly. It’s the children who are reading at higher levels that take longer. Good luck!

Vicki Zweibohmer: By “weekly” do you mean one running record per student per week or all students must have a running record done in five days….

Gina Dreyer Quinlan: Weekly??? That sounds like an awful lot! We use to do them once at the end of the year but we stopped a few years ago since first grade always redid them at the beginning of the year. Are you sure they didn’t just mean guided reading? Good luck and sorry.

Denise Wallace: We do ours during guided reading. We spend three days on book – a group of six maximum at a time (the others do independent stations during this time). On the first day we choral reading … do word work, etc… on the second day we buddy reading… do word work and sentence work… and then the third day we choral reading, do word work, writing work based on the book and then do the running record… the kids all do very well with this so far. I am the para in our K class and our teacher takes another group of 6 and does the same stuff with different books (based on their reading levels) … love guided reading — it was one of my favorite things during the day!

Vicki Zweibohmer: I have six guided reading groups of kindergartners. I have two, three or four students in each group based on running record scores, their DRA score and observations. I get to my lowest group every day, and my other groups once or twice a week. With that said, I do one running record per group per day, which means two for me. That equates to one per student per month and easily guides my focus for instruction. You need to find time to also spend re-reading familiar books, working on reading strategies, and listening to their reading.

Vicki Zweibohmer: Running records should be done on the last familiar re-read book any way, not a cold read. I say that because it seems that even though running records only take one minute to do and discuss with students, you will be using six one more minutes out of your fifteen or twenty minutes of a good guided reading lesson that should involve familiar rereading for about seven minutes, picture walking and background knowledge, skill work, and staggered independent reading all in fifteen minutes! Okay, enough from me!

Jacque Barsetti: Do one running record before each guided reading group. Kindergarten level books are easy and fast to do.

Julie Lien Rinearson: Oh no, when will you teach? Once I get my kids in their groups, I do a running record when the instructional level starts looking like the just right level. It’s different for every group.

Jamie Theriault: I do one daily on one kid for each of my 5 reading groups….which means I get 1 done for each kid every week. It’s easy…as soon as they get to group…they take out the book we read yesterday and retread it…and I do a Running record on one kiddo. It’s part of our group….and now my kids ask…who are you listening to today?

Becky Kurtz Wollam: Several years ago we began doing guided reading groups in K, and we now do a running record on each student each week. Took awhile to get used to it, but we can do them pretty quickly now. They do give us a lot of good info on the students’ reading skills. I feel like they help me keep my finger on the pulse of their skills so I can adjust my teaching as needed. My assistant is able to do half of the guided reading groups and she has been trained to do running records, so that helps with the management issue. Good luck!

Laura King: I always did a running record on one kid in each of my groups during my guided reading time. It doesn’t take long. We only had to take a record on the first hundred words if it was a long book.

Laura King: I agree with Vicki. The running record is done on a familiar read. I just used the book from our last reading lesson.

Cindy Tuisku: Jamie’s system sounds good, but shouldn’t a running record be done on a book they haven’t read before?

HeidiSongs: What a problem! I sure hope that your administrator that is making these decisions has spent some time actually teaching a class of young children before so that he or she can make a good choice. Otherwise, you’re going to wind up with almost no time to teach; you’ll just be assessing each day and that’s it.  (At least until you master the system and figure out a way to make it work.)
That being said, I like Jamie Theriault’s system best so far!  Do the running record in the guided reading groups, and have it be part of the lesson.  It makes sense, right?

Cheryl Henderson Alexander: It seems like there are so many other wonderful things you could be doing instead of doing that many RRs. We know our students and their skill level and needs! They are five and six years old; there will be plenty of time for reading records when they are in grades 1-5!!!

HeidiSongs: Amen, Cheryl!

Jamie Theriault: Daily Running records are assessments done for learning….they should inform your next instruction….not be something extra. Correctly analyzed they should show you what strategies kiddos are and aren’t using. I would suggest reading up on them-Marie clay is a great resource.

Laura King: I agree Jamie.

HeidiSongs: That is very true, but that being said, it should be done because the TEACHER wants the information, and knows what she is looking for. When the administration or district requires it, they ought to tell you what the purpose is and what you are supposed to be looking for, or it will be a giant waste of time.  And then you’ll need to embrace it, if you can…

Rochelle Luttrell: When I learned to do reading records during my bachelor’s classes it was on a new book they had not read before for an accurate score of reading not comprehension. I’m sure different schools/districts/states do it differently.

Laura King: I was taught that a running record is done on a familiar read informs instruction while a RR done on a cold read is used with a comprehension check to assess if the child is ready to move to the next level.

Virginia Van Keuren: Running records go faster than DRAs. We used to do running records, now we do DRAS mid year and end of the year. However, I do not think it is realistic to do them every week on every child. You would spend more time assessing / doing RR than practicing reading startegies which would increase progress and reveal areas of concern or where and what strategies they are bot using. Maybe assess one group per week, possibly two depending on how many groups you have. I have 6 groups but we use the Jan Richardson model so I have 2 groups, an aide has 2 groups, reading specialist one group and PALS tutor another.

Donna Black Whyte: Running records are “snapshots” and a wonderful assessment tool. Tawnya Powers has HUGE amounts of information on their use. Like anything else – they are only valuable if used and done in an environment that allows time to figure out “now what do I need to do”?

HeidiSongs: Good point. And thanks for the tip on Tawnya. And wow, you’re “second” name is so cool when you put it with your last name, “Whyte!” Love that!!!

Ruthanne Newman: Weekly running records? Sounds like progress monitoring, but the most I’ve heard of it being done is at least every two weeks. Also, I want to know how well my kids read from a cold read not a practiced one. Seems like a more accurate measure. This has been a great discussion. Thanks Heidi!

Lisa Vela: Running records on a cold read is good for getting a feel for the child’s instructional level or easy/ frustration level. Running Records on a familiar read is good for analyzing miscues and strategies to inform the next step in a power punch mini lesson during guided reading.

Jamie Theriault: If you don’t see the value in them, then obviously they will seem like a waste of time. But I wouldn’t discount them before giving them a try. When I first start reading groups and first introduce the routine that kids come to my table and take out their book from the day before, I tell them that each day I will be listening to one student and writing down their “good thinking.” They absolutely get a kick out of this, and it helps prevent kids from saying “I don’t know that word” when we start guided reading. Right of the bat they see reading as a problem solving process. At the end I can show them where they were good thinkers from the running record as well. Daily running records are also huge in communicating with parents and reading specialists. At any given time I have a current running record on a kid that I can just pull up and say “johnny is using meaning while reading, but still neglecting critical visual information.” I feel like weekly running records on kids have totally boosted our reading scores in K…and in return…that has left more time for us to address other things like social needs, content, math, playtime!, etc….

Emily Rowe: Every week is too much – 3 or 4 times a year is what I do.

If you liked this blog post, you might like these!
Kindergarten Homework– The EASY way! 
How to Do Guided Reading with Children that Cannot Yet Read
Back from I Teach K… and Some Quick Organizational Tips!
Teaching Kids About GERMS!


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