Do your Read Naturally students conduct their cold timings independently? Teachers have different opinions on whether or not they should. Some teachers believe that, in order to get the most accurate data, a teacher should be present during the Cold Timing step. Other teachers believe that students should do this step independently in order to practice self-correcting errors. While both points of view are valid, here are Read Naturally's views on cold timings:

The teacher must do the first three cold timings with the student. Teachers should use these three opportunities to model how to do a cold timing and to guide the student in clicking on unknown words. The first three cold timings show the teacher what an accurate cold-timing score looks like for the student and provide accurate data for checking initial placement.

If a teacher cannot always be present during the Cold Timing step, students can do the cold timing independently, but only after being taught to do it correctly. If the student-to-teacher ratio allows a teacher or another adult to be present during the cold timing, this step provides an ideal opportunity to coach the student to become a self-correcting reader. Also, the teacher-present cold timing provides more accurate data for making adjustments to the goal.

After the first three teacher-assisted cold timings, the student may be released to do cold timings independently if the student seems ready. There are several reasons why independent cold timings can be effective:

  1. Independent cold timings make high student-to-teacher ratios more manageable.
  2. The Read Along step supports independent cold timings by providing the opportunity for the student to learn words not recognized as errors during the cold timing.
  3. The student’s cold-timing scores are higher when the student is able to click on errors independently—teacher interruptions slow down the process.
  4. The independent Cold Timing step is an important opportunity for the student to practice being a self-correcting reader.

The last reason is the most important. Whether the student does the cold timing independently or the teacher is present during the cold timing, the student becomes much more alert to reading errors when he or she has to click on (or underline) the words s/he reads incorrectly. This process trains the student to be aware of errors as the reading is taking place, instead of relying on the teacher or reviewing errors noted by a teacher after the reading is finished. Self-correction is the skill of a good reader, and the first step in learning to self-correct is to be aware of errors as they are happening. Independent cold timings are an opportunity for students to cultivate this awareness.

Many teachers resist independent cold timings because they worry that the student will inflate his or her score, and WCPM data will therefore be inaccurate. This concern is understandable. To avoid this problem, the teacher should periodically conduct the cold timing to determine if the student's cold-timing scores are accurate enough. If a student inflates cold-timing scores, we recommend that the teacher sets a rule for the next few stories that the student must exceed the cold-timing score by 30 (in grades 4 and below) or 40 words (in grades 5 and above) to pass, regardless of the goal. Usually students will become more accurate on independent cold timings after completing several stories under that rule.

We provide more information about the purpose of the Cold Timing step and the importance of self-corrected reading in the Q&A section of our website. Click on the links for answers to these questions:

Should students do the cold timing step independently, or should I do it with them? What if their cold timing scores seem too high or they don't always count their errors accurately?

Having a student click on or underline errors during the cold timing slows the student down. What's the point of this?

Do you have additional questions or concerns about cold timings? We are here to help! In addition to the robust Knowledgebase section of our website, which includes answers to many frequently asked questions, our customer support staff is always happy to speak with you. We are looking forward to partnering with you this school year in helping your students become the best readers they can be.