Goals/Benefits Time/Structure Sample Lessons Routines Texts Assessment

Facilitator Notes

The Assessment Section is divided into parts, with one or more questions under each part and videotaped responses from teacher educators and teachers to each question.  Examples of both student and teacher forms used for assessment and accountability are linked to the responses.  Classroom in Action clips show how running records are taken and used in the Independent Reading session.  A transcript of each clip is also included to facilitate discussion.

We suggest viewing all the clips under one question, with teachers taking notes while they view, and then discussing the clips (with partners, small or large groups) before moving to the next question.

See also Suggested Reading for information you may want to provide for discussion during the Session, or as follow-up after.





How do you hold students accountable for their Independent Reading?      

What is the appropriate use of rewards for Independent Reading? 

PREPARATION: You may want to show or download the Student Response Log examples to view after the Grade 2 commentary.


DURING VIEWING:  Teachers should take notes while viewing the clips for each question.


AFTER VIEWING:  Possible Discussion Questions:

  • The three teachers use different approaches to holding students accountable during IR. Which approach might work best in your classroom and why? Are there other approaches you might consider?
  • What rewards related to reading do you currently use or might you incorporate as motivation to read?
  • How do you currently or how might you focus on building intrinsic motivation to read? How do the teachers’ approaches to accountability make use of intrinsic motivation or rewards related to reading?




How do you take and organize conference notes?


  • You may want to download the Conference Notes and Notebooks from each commentary and the Google Forms for participants to have in front of them while they watch the clips.
  • Ask teachers who have methods of taking conference notes and conference notebooks to bring examples to the PLC session.


BEFORE VIEWING:  Guiding Questions and Talking Points:

  • Why is it important to take conference notes and to have a reliable way of organizing them over time?
    • No one can store all the information from a conference in his/her brain alone!
    • Our notes help us see patterns in a child’s growth over time. These patterns in turn help us decide teaching points and mini-lessons that will be the most useful.
    • Our notes are especially important with children who are the most confused in learning to read. By sharing and discussing our notes with colleagues, we can discover clues to the support these children most need.



Teachers note their questions and insights from the Commentaries.



  • Guiding Questions and Talking Points:
    • What factors influence the types of information you need to capture in your notes?
      • Time of the year: Early in the year we will tune into children’s preferences and attitudes towards reading, and how well they can use the routines we’ve established for IR.
      • Reading level: Different strategies will be appropriate depending on the child’s reading level and what the child demonstrates in reading.
      • Mini-Lesson: Teachers usually try to use their notes to assess how well children understood and used the focus of the mini-lesson and/or recent mini-lessons.
      • On-going patterns: It is helpful to review previous conference notes and then check in on a child’s progress with a particular strategy.
      • The type of book and genre: Whether the book is a look book or Just Right book, or fiction vs. nonfiction, will also influence the type of information recorded.
    • What types of topics are consistent in our notes?
      • Book choice. We make sure the child is picking books suited to his/her reading needs and interests, and learn more about the child’s preferences to try to meet them with the books available in the classroom.
      • Strategies: Our focus is always on helping the child to become a more strategic, independent reader, whether through early print strategies or comprehension strategies.
    • Compare the three different types of conference notes seen in the clips. Ms. DuBose takes anecdotal notes and records them on an ongoing form for each child; Ms. Whitman uses a short form to capture a variety of information about the child (4 to a page); and Ms. Long uses running records and a Google form checklist for each child and generates class reports from them. What are the pros and cons for you of these different approaches?  What might work best for you?  What adaptations would you make?
    • With a partner or in a small group, teachers can share, create, or modify conference note-taking forms they currently use.





How do you use Running Record Notations during Independent Reading?

(For a tutorial on taking, scoring, and analyzing running records, see the Instructional Decision-Making Section of the Guided Reading Module on this website.)

Running record notations can be a tremendous support to teachers in conferring and planning future mini-lessons.  This part of the Assessment Section includes clips from the classroom of three aspects of using running records in IR:

  • taking running record notes while the child is reading,
  • using the notes to focus the conferring conversation,
  • having the child share the strategies that were discussed in the conference with the rest of the class during sharing.


PREPARATION:  You may want to download each running record sample for teachers to have in front of them while they watch the clips.


DURING VIEWING:  Guiding Questions and Talking Points:

  • How did the running record help the teacher choose a focus for the conference? What other useful information did it provide?
    • Conference 1:
      • The teacher noted the miscues, rereading, and self-corrections the child made. She probably noticed the child relying a lot on visual cues and chose to praise the “shouted brother” self-correction because it showed that the child was paying attention to meaning to fix her error.
      • If she wanted to reinforce this teaching point, she might have applied it to the error of “count” for “connect” to show the child how powerful meaning is in discriminating between words that are visually similar.  (“Counting the dots” makes sense at the point of the error, but leads to other confusions later in the paragraph.  Only by “connecting” the dots would you find a teddy bear hidden there.)
      • The teacher might also have provided vocabulary support with “flock” since it sounded like the child got this word from visual cues but was unsure of its meaning.
    • Conference 2:
      • The teacher noted the self-corrections and miscues the child made. She was able to praise his self-correction of “at” to “up,” and point out that while “look at” might have made sense at first, it didn’t look right.  That gave her an opening to work on the different endings of “this” and “that”.  She is working with this child on not only relying on meaning without carefully looking at print.  As in Conference 1, the running record helps the teacher identify cues that are neglected and focus on them.


  • What strategies from the conference was the child able to articulate in sharing? How was this sharing useful to the rest of the class?
    • Conference 1: The child articulated that she didn’t know the word, kept reading, and then went back and fixed it, and that the reason she reread and self-corrected was “It didn’t make sense and then I fixed it to shouted.” The teacher was able through the sharing to reinforce the importance of going back and rereading when things don’t make sense.
    • Conference 2: The child articulated his “little mistake” and how he went back and reread to fix it. This again opened the door for the teacher to reinforce the importance of the reader’s “eyes checking the words” and saying what you see.  “So what he sees has to match what he says, right?”  Although the teacher helped the child in the conference to correct the “this/that” error, in sharing he could feel proud of his accomplishment, and help other children learn something as well.



  • Discuss the teachers’ notes and talking points from above.
  • Additional questions for discussion and talking points:
    • How do running record notes during conferring differ from a formal running record (such as a DRA, Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark, Dominie, etc.)?
      • Our purpose is not to provide benchmark data, but rather to inform our teaching at the moment and in the future.
      • It is not necessary to take a full 100 words.
      • Don’t worry if you don’t catch 100% of the student’s behaviors. It’s difficult to do with unfamiliar text you are looking at over the child’s shoulder!
      • While we always wait to see what strategies the child will use at error, the teacher does not hesitate to teach where it is appropriate during these running records.
    • What purposes are served by taking running record notations during IR?
      • Getting a more objective picture of the strategies the child controls or nearly controls;
      • Pinpointing the most useful teaching point for the conference;
      • Providing specific examples to the child of strategies he or she is using/not using;
      • Noticing growth over time in the child’s use of strategies;
      • Assessing appropriateness and guiding of book choice;
      • Planning future mini-lessons based on evidence of children’s strengths and needs.


For more examples of taking, analyzing, and using running records during conferences, see Focus on Fluency.