Monday, January 30, 2012

Putting a New Spin on Reading Assessment with Spider Charts

I want to share an interactive tool here that I developed as a way to see how young readers are coordinating complex reading processes as they learn to read. Spider charts, a standard feature in Excel, help teachers visually display the information readers are noticing and coordinating as they problem-solve print on a page. These charts are useful for illustrating the relationships among semantic, syntactic, and graphophonic cues.

Knowing the kinds of cues that a reader uses--and the kinds of cues that a reader overlooks--can help you target your teaching. On a spider chart, a lopsided corner visually "points" to the kind of cues that readers are using more often or sometimes overusing.

If you know how to conduct a miscue analysis, you can instantly visualize the data here and create your own spider chart by typing miscue data into the yellow cells in the chart below.  For very young children, you might need to do this twice: fill in one chart to show the processes they use as they "read the pictures", then create a second chart to show how they attempted to read the words. As children become more proficient, they learn to integrate all the cues to get meaning from the pictures and the words.

The tool here is interactive in real time: enter your scores in the yellow boxes and the chart below changes instantly. (For a version that works with running records, click here.)


© 2012 Karen Wohlwend 
You can download your graph by clicking the download icon above.

Briefly, the chart corresponds to 4 questions that teachers consider as they listen to readers:
  1. What % of sentences fit language patterns (syntactically acceptable)? 
  2. What % of sentences make sense (semantically acceptable)?
  3. What % of sentences retain the meaning of the overall text (no meaning change)?
  4. What % of miscues (words) resemble the letters/sounds of the corresponding word on the page (miscues with high or medium graphophonic similarity)?
For examples and an in-depth explanation for using spider charts with miscue analysis for kindergarten readers, see:
For more resources on conducting miscue analysis in general, see:
Goodman, Y. M., Watson, D. J., & Burke, C. L. (2005). Reading miscue inventory: From evaluation to instruction. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Owocki, G., & Goodman, Y. M. (2002). Kidwatching: Documenting children's literacy development. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


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