Summer 2017 Book Study-Week2Chp2

In the comments below, write your thoughts about Chapter 2.  Here are some questions to help:

Chapter 2:  Parts of a Math Running Record

How do you assess fluency currently?

Do you test for accuracy, flexibility, and efficiency? What is the evidence you use to see if each of these aspects are in place?

Have you ever thought about assessing before for disposition?  If so, what have you done with that info? If not, what might you do with that information?


  1. Ann Elise

    As I’ve mentioned, at my grade 3-5 school we give running records at least twice a year. For our entering 3rd graders we give them both addition and subtraction. For the 4th and 5th graders, we give them subtraction and multiplication. I’ve found subtraction to be an epidemic of finger counting even among my 5th graders. That was definitely a focus of ours this year. We continue to work on the strategies within number talks as well with numbers appropriate to the gradelevel. The K-2 school in my district (where I was Math Coach for 2 years together with my 3-5 school that I’m at full-time now) gives running records to our K-2 kiddos as well. We don’t give kindergarteners a running record until we are sure their counting principles in place. 1st and 2nd graders get the addition and subtraction running records, but the expectations are different since we want 1st graders to be fluent within 10 and then 2nd graders to be fluent within the 20. I’ve suggested students work on addition within 10, then work on subtraction within 10, then go back to addition within 20 and finally subtraction within 20.

    For the disposition, I haven’t found that I’ve asked my students those questions too frequently since usually time is of the essence and I’m not their teacher who works with them all of the time. I know many classrooms have embraced the growth mindset ideas of Jo Boaler and create math climates that support students knowing that mistakes are part of the learning process, that there is no such thing as a math brain, and that being fast at math does not necessarily mean that you are good at math.

    Next week we will be watching Dr. Nicki administer an addition running record and practice scoring it and discussing instructional implications. Then, you can find any area children and get practicing yourself! You’ll become addicted!

  2. Wendy Courter

    I am a Title I math teacher in a 4-5 building. I do not really assess fluency right now. My building has typically used timed tests, but those have fallen off in some classrooms. At one point it was a building requirement and everyone had to enter their results in a google sheet, but now each teacher does what they want in terms of fluency.

    Last year, I worked with a classroom teacher to implement number talks. As part of that, I did some one on one interviews that assessed the students ability to solve problems mentally. The final questions of that interview asked for the students to self assess their mental math skills. That is the only disposition assessments I’ve done.

    One question that arose for me in the first chapter has to do with figure 2.1 on page 30. It states that Math Running Records are “adopted as a school/district initiative” and are not “one teachers project (although it can be done by any teacher who wants to try it.)” I have never heard anyone in my school or district mention math running records. I became intrigued after hearing about them on this site and on the “Math Intervention Matters” FaceBook group. I am considering trying them in the fall but felt slightly discouraged by reading that. Has anyone else implemented them alone in their building? I was considering pushing into one classroom to do the running records. My thinking is that by doing them for a year with one teacher, then we would have documentation to show that they are worth the time investment.

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Wendy! Please don’t be discouraged. It takes time to make change and you need to start where you feel comfortable. I know when I introduced them to my K-2 school, I started with one gradelevel and I did them all. Once I shared the data with the teachers, they became really interested and I trained them to do them. Some teachers do all their students and others are happy to have assistants or specialists to do them. It has been 2 years now and they are done 3 times a year school-wide. The information we gather is so incredible that it becomes contagious! I think your plan sounds perfect. Start with one class and then you will have data that shows their growth not only in their math facts, but in their application of strategies that will be used with larger numbers and even fractions and decimals down the road. Magical! Well worth the investment of time. I think teachers have traditionally had no problem investing lots of time in reading assessments, this is just equal time for math!

    2. Megan

      I felt discouraged by that also! I became interested in using them after taking Num Sense 101 and being in the FB math intervention group. As a sped teacher, I felt like I did not have a good way to measure IEP goals…which often surround fluency, but I’ve moved more toward writing goals around solving word problems as well.

      I did ask a coach in the school about running records last spring, but she had not heard of them. We had a math interventionist last year, but the position was cut due to budget constraints this year. I feel that I will figuring this out on my own this year, but am trying to get the other sped teacher on board too (we’re always looking for better ways to measure student progress and write better IEP goals).

  3. Kelly Andrews

    Unfortunately, my fluency assessments of the past did not assess students beyond speed and accuracy; however, purchasing Dr. Nicki Newton’s book last year and this book study are my first steps in making a change. Since I do math intervention, I can start small and assess fluency through running records for my RtI students only. As I grow in knowledge and confidence, I plan to expand to a regular ed classroom working with a teacher who is open and interested in getting a “bigger”, more accurate picture of her students’ fluency.

    1. Ann Elise

      Absolutely! I really think that you will be amazed at the information you will gain from the running records and help you develop a plan to respond instructionally to the needs of the students. If you can find a brave teacher to try them out, I think their enthusiasm and powerful impact on the math skills of his/her students will speak for itself!

  4. Megan Purlee

    Teachers in our building have done either timed tests or nothing to assess math fluency, we assess reading fluency a lot. I doubt anyone has ever tested for flexibility nor disposition. I feel like I would have to start small too. I like both Kelly and Wendy’s ideas.

    1. Ann Elise

      Absolutely! Just getting started is the first hurdle. I was a little nervous when I first began administering them, but then I realized that I learned so much as I was doing them that it didn’t matter if I forgot to ask a question or did things that later I wished I hadn’t. I know that I am in a continual state of learning and reflecting. The information you glean is so much more powerful than a timed test. Can’t wait for you to try it!

  5. Kelly Sickle

    This past year, I sat on a fluency team for our building and we put together a sort of test booklet with a progression of facts. Everyone was on board with getting rid of timed tests until they heard that they had to interview each student. Now Kindergarten and First (I teach first) know that interviewing is a way of life. The other grades were hesitant until they saw that each interview was about 1 minute. Then they really liked knowing how each student thought. We had a spread sheet that each teacher completed at the end of the year, stating where each student was at with fact fluency. This year that fluency was based on speed. Since it is an growing document, I am hoping to learn something to help with expanding everyone’s knowledge on what fluency is. (I am starting research and a thesis on it within the next month too-I’m a bit nervous about that!!!)

    1. Ann Elise

      That’s wonderful that the process has already been started to interview students! I have found a running record to be between 5 and 10 minutes for each operation, but I also know the value in doing them. At my schools, students were given reading running records that last up to 30 minutes sometimes. I felt that asking for a 10 minute interview was nothing in comparison. Dr. Nicki lists all the research she did to create her running records, so that would be a great starting place for you as you begin your research and these. Good luck on your thesis!! You will have to keep us informed about what you learn!

  6. Wanda Johnson

    Basically my school has used timed fact testing to gauge fluency. However, I don’t feel that we have been able to see an accurate picture of what students know and how they know it. I plan to implement running records this year alone. I believe the helpfulness of the data will encourage other teachers to try this type of assessment.

    1. Ann Elise

      I entirely agree! I do think others will want to try them, too, once they see your results!

  7. Megan

    I’ve only assessed fluency to measure IEP goals using timed test (from intervention central) as it has been the only way I could measure fluency for the IEP. I’ve moved away from writing fluency goals for IEPs as I’ve learned more about CGI, but a few students definitely need the targeted work in fluency….which up until I started following Christina and other intervention groups, I interpreted as speed. The IEP goals I wrote were around speed. I’m very excited to have a more effective tool to use for baselines and to measure progress.

    I would love for other teachers to use them, but most are all much more experienced than I am (definitely something to be said for experience and I’m still figuring things out!) and already are discouraged learning the new curriculum our district adopted last year (Envision). There would need to be an administrative shift to get others to use them.

    1. Ann Elise

      The struggle is real. I see it in my school as well as teachers attempt to teach the CCSS for their gradelevel yet the students’ skills sets aren’t where they need to be. I really believe we need to slow down so that we can go faster later. By starting them yourself, you’ll be able to show others the information you get and I get you’ll have others on board soon.

  8. Tara Russell

    Oops! I guess I answered most of these questions in the last section. I definitely hope to use running records this year in first grade, my biggest concern is the time factor. I realize that the value outweighs the constraint, but am concerned that I might not realistically be able to do it as often as I should or would like to. I am hoping this book study will guide me in seeing how to make it all work!

    1. Ann Elise

      Time is definitely of the essence, so I stop the first part of the running record when I find errors or when the student is struggling. For the second part, I typically stop when I find a strategy they are weak in. One exception is on the addition RR. I like to stop at the Doubles plus 1. Many students will say that 5+6 is 11 but when I ask them 6+7, the fingers come out. That tells me a lot!

  9. Lisa Mills

    I am definitely going to be trying running records this next school year. I am in a grade 3-5 school just as Ann is and I am a special education teacher. What I really like is that we loop with our sped kiddos so I just sent my 5th graders off to the middle school and back to 3rd grade I go. In 3rd grade there is a wonderful teacher who is really focused on math – she and another rd grade teacher team teach. She does math for both classes and the other does writing. We spoke at the end of the school year and she has gotten permission to assess both 3rd grade classes on fact understanding – which makes me think she may have already read this book! So there will be 2 of us and I can’t wait. I know the other teachers would probably love for us to do their kiddos as well so if we could pilot this in third grade an then show historical information I think we could convince folks to look at implementing. We do fluency in reading using Aimsweb and I think there is enough similarity that they would see the value in this data. In the past, I have tried implementing fluency using some of John Van deWalle’s strategies, however, I couldn’t seem to get it going beyond a few classrooms at each grade. I hope we can change that!

    1. Ann Elise

      You will be off to a great start by having a partner who will also do them. It is so helpful to have someone to discuss them with since it isn’t really black and white. Students add so much complexity! I think you are right in that once others see the data you get and that it provides such a clear instructional response, they will be more willing to try them themselves.

  10. Betsy Frates

    My cohort and I have changed our thinking on how to assess fact fluency. After working on fact fluency, discussing different strategies and playing games, we will call kids over while everyone is following their morning routine just to quickly ask a few kids at a time their facts. There is no pressure or sense of nervousness on the students part. It appears to be more of a personal challenge for kids and they enjoy it. The question, “How do you know” let’s us know if the student is flexible when answering their facts. It is not a formal way of checking however. I like the idea of running records. I feel like more training would be important and hopefully after this course I may feel ready, but it is something I’d like to look into. Disposition is new to me as far as math. Interesting question that seems to be able to give us so much information. I would want to see if a student has more of a fixed mindset with math or a flexible mindset. Then I would want to help students with a fixed mindset to become flexible. The students that start to be able to change their mindset, seem to enjoy math and realize it can be fun.

    1. Ann Elise

      I really think the math interview is the way we should be assessing math fact fluency. It is the only way I know that we can get a measure of speed, accuracy and flexibility. I agree that math mindset is very important as well. I love Jo Boaler’s youcoubed resources for the week of inspirational math to start off the year with engaging math!

  11. Torri Rankl

    Fluency has really only been assessed through timed tests. I do have some fun center games that the students enjoy. This year I let my students test themselves, on their own with a timer. They enjoyed this and it was less stressful. I am looking forward to trying running records. I am hoping to get others on board as well. I love reading every response. I am learning a lot!

    1. Ann Elise

      Hi Torri! I think you will be thrilled with all the information that a running record will give you about students’ math fact fluency! Can’t wait to hear what you think!

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