Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Best of Series: Using Running Records to Assess Kindergarten Reading

Editor's Note: This blog was previously published, we're re-sharing it as part of our 'Best of' series, a look back at some of our most popular blogs.


By Gaynell R. Jamison, Reading Specialist, Guest Blogger

Guided reading produces a teaching and learning environment where you and your students work together to make meaning of challenging text. In today's post, I'll describe how you can use running records to help kindergartners use meaning, structure, and visual cues to improve reading fluency.

What Is a Running Record?

As you observe students to identify when and how much to scaffold while students practice reading, you have to be careful when prompting students to check and confirm their work (Parkes, 2000). Marie Clay developed running records to record and analyze reading behaviors, self-corrections, and substitutions made by students. To use a running record in your guided reading lessons, you have to make sure that the text in the record shows the same layout as the text seen on pages of leveled books.

When using a running record, you can count errors, but self-corrections should not be counted. It is important to record and analyze the miscue under both the error column and the self-correction column on the running record. Taking note of errors and self-correction in a running record during reading practice will help you plan further instruction for your students.

What Are MSV Cues?

The meaning, structure, and visual (MSV) cueing system allows students to draw upon their prior knowledge to problem-solve difficult text. When using this system, three questions should always guide students' thought processes: 1) Does it Make sense? 2) Does it Sound right? 3) Does it look right (Visual)?

These questions call for an integration of cues, and they help your students start what is known as reading work. First, children must understand that words in print carry a message, which will serve as a building block to possess the ability to attend to print.

Using Running Records to Help Students Use MSV Cues

Through observation and an understanding of the cueing system, you must become skilled at analyzing the running record. The use of running records will help you analyze miscues or errors of the student’s reading work. Running records also reveal the information that students used or did not use to problem-solve challenging text.

In reading, the following codes are used when taking a running record:

                                                                                                                  As mentioned earlier, self-corrections are not counted as errors. The miscues should be coded and analyzed in both the error column and the self-correction column on the running record. Below is a sample of a text from the Kaleidoscope Collection to demonstrate the usage of the strategy MSV cueing system:

  • Picture 1 is a running record of the informational text We Recycle.
    • Picture 2 is a coding of an ‘Accurate Reading’ of We Recycle.
      • Picture 3 is a coding of an ‘Error’ and ‘Self-Correction’ of We Recycle.


        Understanding Why Students Need to Use Meaning Cues

        The image on page 2 in We Recycle shows a stack of bins, but the running record in Picture 3 shows that the student substituted tub for bin. One reason this could have taken place is that the word bin may not have been in the student’s vocabulary, but the word tub could have been. Glass bottles can be put in a tub, so you should circle the M in the running record because the error pertained to the meaning of a word.

        Understanding Why Students Need to Use Structure Cues

        The image on page 4 in We Recycle  shows another bin just for plastic bottles, but the running record in Picture 3 shows that the student self-corrected the substitution of tub for bin. Structurally, it is correct to say, “We put glass bottles in a tub.” So you should circle the S and M since the reader used both meaning and structure to self-correct.

        Understanding Why Students Need to Use Visual Cues

        Visual cues that help students are the letters and words within the text. The V was not circled when the student read page 2 of We Recycle  because there is no similarity between the letters in tub and bin. However, one might bring up the point that there is a b at the end of tub and a b at the beginning of bin. That would be a visual cue. The reader very well could or could not have noticed the b.

        Since you have more familiarity with the student that you're observing, how you mark this is up to you. If there was evidence that the b was noticed in some way, then that would constitute that visual information was used. When the student read page 4, the substitution of tub for bin, marked under the error column, would be a repeat of page 2.

        Under the self-correction column, the was circled. This means there was some form of visual information that triggered the reader to make a self-correction and notice that the word was bin and not tub. Again, this requires you to be quite observant and familiar with the reader in order to make that judgment call.

        Be sure to visit our blog soon because, in my next post, I'll explain how you can help first-graders improve reading comprehension by practicing word study and retelling with guided reading leveled books.

        Gaynell R. Jamison is a reading specialist, children’s author, early childhood trainer, and pre-K director with 38 years of experience in education. She has studied extensively in the field of literacy with a specialty in teaching reading and administering reading programs as a former Reading Recovery Teacher and Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. She has served on two national committees for leveling books for Reading Recovery. She has a passion for children's literature with a focus on early and emergent literacy acquisition and teaching young learners to become readers.







        To learn more about the Kaleidoscope Collection series of books, click here to visit the Kaleidoscope page of our website, or click the image below to download the brochure!