Miscues in reading are the best way to know where instruction should start. Whether they are reading leveled texts or decodable texts, analyzing errors is key.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I originally posted this in 2015. Since that time, I have tried to be true to my reading heart and really listened to the research on the Science of Reading and how using a 3-cueing system for teaching strategies can be harmful to students. I definitely knew the limitations of decoding on leveled text because students were expected to read words beyond their pattern knowledge and found myself introducing these words and patterns before letting the students read the books. I am discovering not all teachers swayed from the “fidelity” of the 3-cueing system to do what is best for students. AS ALWAYS, we should use what is best for students.
That being said, if you are still required by your school district mandates to use leveled readers…here is the best information I can give you for students making oral reading mistakes.
Who uses MSV?
If you are still required to use leveled text, you should be using MSV. If you aren’t, you’re missing out on a great planning and instructional tool.
I was talking with a colleague today about analyzing the benchmark running record. “I don’t think I need to. It doesn’t help me.” I’m sad about that. When you can analyze a miscue, you can determine WHY the student made the mistake.
During a refresher training for back to school, I told the teachers we were going to look at MSV and, I swear, you could hear the “dun, dun, dun” ominous soundtrack in the background. Honestly, I know they can be tricky, but like everything else, the more you use it, the easier it is.
3 Possible Miscues
Meaning (or Semantic) Errors – Does it make sense?
Structure (or Syntactic) Errors – Does it sound right?
Visual (or Graphophonic) Errors – Does it look right?
Meaning errors are errors that do not effect the story. The meaning is intact, even when the word is incorrect. Meaning errors are based in understanding of prior knowledge, story sense, text, or the illustrations. THIS is a common misconception.
Illustrations are “visual” because they are on the page, but when a student makes an error based on the illustration, they have made the error using the meaning they are drawing from the picture.
Students should never use “Look at the Picture” as a stand-alone strategy. It is always a cross-referencing strategy. Look at the letters, then check the picture. Slide through the word, then check the picture. That being said, meaning errors make sense.
In the first error, the student used the text for meaning and “in the park” and “at the park” don’t interrupt meaning.
The second error, when the student read “chicken” for “hen.” The student could probably see the illustration and may have only known that animal as a chicken. They were not using visual cues or letters, but only the illustration.
The third error may be a problem with prior knowledge. The story may be about a playground and they may only know a “teeter totter” as a “seesaw.”
The final example of meaning cues is using story sense to keep the meaning. Exchanging the word “forest” for “woods” does not interrupt the story.
The key to structure errors are how does the story SOUND? A story with structure errors will be displeasing to the ear.
Structure errors are errors with grammatical patterns and language structures (a verb for a verb), errors with natural language, and errors with a basic knowledge of English.
One of my students has a terrible habit of exchanging “his” for “him.” “Did you see him shirt?” She tends to have many structure errors in reading.
The first structure errors illustrated above is about natural language. Exchanging “goed” for “went” shows the student knows the event was in the past, but in their effort to make it make sense, they disrupt the structure of the story. The second error is about grammatical errors. These errors exchange a noun for a noun or a verb for a verb. Finally, a student with limited understanding of English, can make structure errors. In the sentence above “The cat was sleeping quietly by the window” SOUNDS correct, just like, “The cat was sitting quietly by the window.”
Visual errors are those errors that disrupt how the word looks. Is there anything visible that could have caused the error? Visual errors are errors with sounds and symbols (letters), print conventions, and analogies.
In the examples above, the sounds and symbols are used in making the error “quickly” for “quietly” but the meaning is disrupted and the it is not pleasing to the listener. The second error shows “smell” for “small.”
Visual cues are used but small is an adjective and smell is not. Finally, a fox can be “sly” and “sneaky” but using only the beginning letter causes the error.
MSV Teacher Desk plate
I keep a desk plate taped onto my teacher table. I use it every time I score a running record, just to check. I have attached this desk plate to bottom on this post.
You can analyze using MSV, now what?
Use what they give you. Using their errors to guide your instruction takes the guess work or the heavy thinking out of lesson planning. They are telling you what they need when they make errors.
Mini Lessons for Meaning Errors:
- Picture Focus
- Sequence Activities
- What can it be? Games with predictions, drawing conclusions, and inferences.
- Bubble Map (to build prior knowledge)
- Semantic Gradients (to understand the difference between cold, chilly, and icy)
- Context Cues (using the other words in the sentence to help determine unknown words)
- Make Connections
A Full Set of Miscue Analysis Activities for Meaning is ready-to-print in my TPT store.
Mini Lessons for Structure Errors:
- Does this sound right? (give them examples and non-examples so they can learn to distinguish)
- Sequencing Activities
- Grammar lessons
- Synonym Activities
- Text signals – punctuation
- Sentence Fragments (determining whole and parts)
A Full Set of Miscue Analysis Activities for Visual is ready-to-print in my TPT store.
Mini Lessons for Visual Errors:
- Frame it (one finger on each side of the word to form a frame)
- What would you expect to hear at the beginning, in the middle, at the end?
- Can you find the word with the same beginning sound as …?
- Flip the vowel
- Chunking (If you know, then you know)
- Confused words (saw/was – of/off – for/from – were/where)
- Syllables (talk about vowel relationships to syllables)
- Rimes or word families.
A Full Set of Miscue Analysis Activities for Structure is ready-to-print in my TPT store.
Save this… I know the year is over (or almost for some), but you’ll need to save this post for the beginning of the year.
There is the FREEBIE MSV Posters and Deskplate Set. Sign up below and download it instantly.
Helping students identify and understand their errors and support their specific needs is one of the most rewarding parts of teaching reading. Enjoy!