Sit back and listen

4299468726_4edf9b067eRunning records are essential for knowing how each of my students are doing with their reading. I hear each child read 4-5 books a lesson, but it is only when l am taking a running record that the student is relying TOTALLY on his / her own decision making / strategies.

I admit that l sometimes catch myself helping during a running record (a big no no!). It is so tempting to give a little reminder / prompt when l see the student is needing just a little assistance. But if l do not let the student give a true reflection of how she / he is doing (without my help), l might presume that the student can do more than is really the case.  l would be missing out on teaching opportunities and the student could struggle with future learning.

Reading Recovery teachers often get told to take some time to sit back and LISTEN and not make presumptions about what a student does or does not know.

When you are hearing reading at home, do you help too much? Are you giving wait time to see if your child can do it without you? It doesn’t take long for the child to start waiting for help if we give it too quickly.

You may like to read more about wait time and decision making. (Click on the links.)

2 Writing Lessons

I came across 2 examples of the writing component of the Reading Recovery lesson posted on You Tube by UALRCenter4Literacy.

The student is using Elkonin (sound) boxes to learn about sound to letter matches.This lesson would be quite early in the series of lessons. Pushing the counters into the boxes as he says the sounds helps him to identify where each letter needs to be written. Once he is confidently doing this he will not need the counters. Notice that the teacher asks the student to say the sounds as he is writing the word. She quickly wrote one of the words for him to move the lesson along. Often the student is asked to ‘take a word to fluency’. This is writing the same word many times to learn it. This student was asked to rewrite ‘my‘. (A word that he had already written by himself. The teacher used this known word to make a quick connection between my and me.) The teacher needs to know the student very well to be able to make quick decisions re teaching opportunities. (What does this child need at this time? What will the child need to be able to do tomorrow? What does he almost know? What will he ‘get’ if l give him this prompt / demonstration?)


This next video would be a much later lesson than the previous video. Notice the use of sound boxes (e.g. legs, about) and letter boxes (e.g. back).The student and the Reading Recovery teacher have a conversation about a shared experience to compose and write a message about tadpoles.The teacher talks about what letters he would expect to see, as well as hear. She asks him to make some of his own decisions and to check his choices. She uses some prompts rather than demonstrations to encourage independence.

Choosing the new book

5-7Every day l choose a new book for each student to read.  The reading level of this book will depend upon the outcome of the daily running record.

The running record will inform me if the reading level for that day was easy, instructional or hard.

An easy book is a reading level that the student can read without support (i.e. without being told unknown words or given prompts).  He / she makes very few errors and demonstrates excellent comprehension (understanding) of the book.

An instructional book is a reading level that the student can read and understand with the support of someone else. Students read with a 90-95 percent accuracy rate and understand most of what they read. At this level the students can cope with new learning as the teacher provides the needed support for challenging vocabulary and concepts, and prompts the student to use known strategies.

A hard book is a reading level that the student obviously struggles to read and errors are numerous (under a 90 per cent accuracy rate). Reading at this level only causes frustration and is to be avoided.

l do not want to pick a new book that could be too easy because there will be very little (if any) new learning and l will not be maximizing the progress of the student. The best new book to choose will be one that l think the student would be able to read 3537327425 at an instructional level (i.e. not too easy or too hard). An instructional book that is given a book introduction by the teacher, and rehearsed by the student, should be easy to read the next day when the running record is taken. If the book is still read at an instructional level, the student is not ready yet for the next reading level.