I've never enjoyed the thought of giving up a week of instruction to complete reading running records. A running record, if you don't know, is an assessment tool for a student's reading progress and skills. For me, the thought of listening to the same passage over and over and trying to remember the precise symbol to mark used to send me into a panic. Would I hear them correctly? And what would the rest of the class be engaged in so I could actually listen and concentrate on what the student in front of me was reading?
Then, a presenter at a technology workshop introduced a general idea for using Evernote. The presenter suggested using Evernote to record students reading instead of listening to them read during class time. From that moment on, I knew that completing student running records would be not only more enjoyable, but less intrusive to my instructional time.
There's a bit of preparation before you begin, but it takes fewer than 15 minutes. Before starting, spend some time with Evernote and get familiar with its features. Then, create an account with notebooks for as many students as you have. Finally, take a picture of the passage each child will be recording and paste it into their notebook. That’s it!
Here are five ways Evernote makes students' running records easier to do and more valuable.
1. Recording running records empowers students. Using Evernote, students are empowered. Getting to decide when they hit the record button gives them a feeling of control. When it's convenient for you and your students, you decide how they will record (everyone at once, in a small group, or with a partner). Give students general guidelines and demonstrate the new method. They'll press Record and then start reading once they see the passage; when they are finished, they press Stop. They’ll have a recording of their reading, with the elapsed time noted as well.
2. Teachers have more flexibility and fewer distractions. What's great is that you have the freedom to listen to and record their passages whenever it's convenient. There aren’t distractions, and you can listen as many times as you need. This has really helped me record the results more precisely and accurately.
3. Notebooks easily translate into portfolios. Not only does Evernote store this reading record, but I can continue adding to each child’s notebook throughout the year, essentially creating a portfolio.
4. Teachers can use Evernote to document feedback and growth. You can use Evernote to record specifically what a student does well, and what he or she needs to do to improve, just like a mini fluency reading conference. In addition, I have students self-reflect and give themselves two or three “Glows” (what they did well) and one “Grows” (what they could do to improve).
5. Sharing features enable communication with a student's support team. Evernote makes it easy to share recordings and results with reading specialists, learning support teachers, and parents.
Students now ask, “When can we use Evernote again to check our fluency? Can you write me some more notes on how I can get better at reading words? What other tips do you have that I can try, to sound like a great reader?” Now, with Evernote, we’re all happy!