[nobe-l] Running records?

Heather Field missheather at comcast.net
Thu Jan 18 22:44:24 UTC 2018

Hello Valerie,

First, let me encourage you. It is so important during this period of your 
teacher training to remember that you are currently working under the worst 
conditions you will ever have to manage. You are working in someone else's 
classroom, with students who have not been in your class and learned the way 
you run your classroom as a blind teacher. Classrooms are not laid out as 
you would probably lay out yours, equipment is not marked in braille or 
organised as you would like it organised.
You are not permitted to structure activities so that they are most suited 
to your functioning as a blind teacher but are being required, in many 
instances, to use methods and do assignments that are designed to work for 
sighted student teachers.
With this in mind, it is vital that you advocate strongly for yourself and 
present them with the argument that you are supposed to be developing 
competence as a teacher during this time. Therefore, you should be extended 
maximum opportunity to develop strategies that work for a blind teacher. 
instead of being required to use methods that actively discriminate against 
you because they rely on sight to work.
Take the opportunity to say things like, "I know you wouldn't want to be 
discriminating against me due to my blindness, so it's my understanding that 
you would want to work with me to develop and/or use nonvisual strategies 
and techniques that enable a blind teacher to acquire the same assessment 
information as sighted student teachers. Am I correct in this 
This will make them have the discussion with you and see their behaviour in 
it's true light. They need to see that it is their job to train you as a 
teacher who has techniques to do your job, whether they are the techniques 
they're used to, or whether they're nonvisual techniques that you bring to 
the task at hand. As long as the techniques work.

I would encourage you not to be intimidated or buckle to their pressure to 
use the methods they are insisting you use, simply because sighted students 
use them, and they can't come up with a suitable alternative nonvisual 
technique themselves. You must insist on what will work for you.
For example, if they say you can't record students, but you decide that 
recording is the best technique for you to complete an assignment, then it 
is vital that you insist. Propose some ideas to them. For example, suggest 
that you could listen to the recordings and do the assessments in the same 
classroom where they're recorded and erase them before you leave. Or, you 
could volunteer to write a note to the parents of the students in the class, 
explaining that you're a blind student doing your practicum and requesting 
their permission for you to make brief recordings of their children reading 
so that you can complete your reading assessment assignments. You can assure 
the parents that all recordings would be erased by the morning  of the next 
day after recording. While you may not need to go this far, being prepared 
to show that you're willing to do so if it ensures you're allowed to use 
methods that work for you as a blind teacher, will show your professors that 
you are determined to make practicum teaching a time that is useful and 
valuable to you in your development as a competent blind teacher.
I'd be happy to talk with you on the phone and brainstorm about techniques 
if you would find that helpful, Valerie.

Below are my suggestions for how you can make this reading assessment, and 
various other classroom tasks work for a blind teacher. I share with you 
what I do myself.

This is the exact situation where I use a braille note taking device.
I put the book I'll be using with the student, or a portion of the book if 
it's a long book, on my note taker. Often, the simplest way of doing this is 
to have someone read the book to me while I'll actually type it in myself 
before hand.
This way I am more familiar with the text when I'm having the student read 
it to me.
I make a copy of the original text for each student I'm testing, so that I 
can read along with each student and make notes as I go.
I have developed symbols for the various mistakes students make when 
S, for substitution, r, for repeated word, h, for hesitation, m, for missed 
word, k, for skipped line and so on.
I may also note the word that the student substituted.

In some situations, instead of a chosen book, I use reading fluency 
development card sets, which are graded for each grade.
Reading fluency cards usually show the total number of words to be read, and 
students are required to read the card for one minute. The average reader, 
reading at grade level, should finish the card within one minute or very 
close to one minute, with few or no errors. Each line on the card has the 
number of words that a student will have read at the end of that line. If 
they reach one minute having only read part of a line, one counts back from 
the number shown at the end of that line and lists the number of words read 
in one minute. One can also note reading errors during the reading.
I can use the recommended cards for readers in that grade, or if I know I'm 
testing a struggling reader, I may use the cards for the grade below with 
them to get an idea of how much they're behind.
I use the stopwatch utility on my braille note taker to time the reading, 
although braille stopwatches are available, and iPhone apps are also an 

Since reading fluency cards are graded and level tested, suggesting that you 
be permitted to use them may be a better strategy than just using a random 
classroom book. An example of where this would be better than a random 
classroom book is this. If a student is particularly interested in a 
specific topic, such as soccer, horses, or surfing, then they will have 
developed familiarity with a narrow set of specific vocabulary words. I have 
often encountered this phenomenon with readers who have been labelled as 
"slow" and, instead of being given appropriate reading instruction, they 
have been given high interest, low vocabulary level readers.
Such a student will score an average or good score, if given the one-minute 
test on such a reader. However, given a grade appropriate, reading fluency 
card to read for a minute, you will get a much more realistic reading skills 
Since the reading fluency cards are each quite short, it would be very 
realistic for you to get them on to your braille note taker.
These are just a couple of possibilities, recording would be another

Nevertheless, whatever text you use for your reading student, I believe that 
a braille note taker is the blind classroom teacher's wonderful assistant. 
Since it is portable, it can go with you wherever you go in the classroom.
You can make comments on the fly, access material students are reading, 
record what you like, when you are in your own classroom of course, and 
generally access information that you have planned for the day.
Lesson plans can easily be accessed and changed on the fly on your note 
taker. You can even write comments about what you want to review and 
extension ideas that arise out of the presented lesson. Notes on particular 
student problems or issues can also be made for later attention.
You can give the correct answers to worksheets, present the spelling test, 
give pop quizzes and a million more things, reading the material from your 
braille note taker.

If you don't have a braille note taker, Valerie, I'd strongly encourage you 
to apply for one through your Voc. Rehab. counsellor.
I'd be happy to help you put together a case for one to use in the classroom 
if that would be helpful.
I hope I've given you some useful ideas and encouraged you in your student 
teaching, Valerie.
I remember how hard it was when I walked this road and how helpful it was 
when other teachers reminded me how different it would be when I got my own 
classroom. Please don't hesitate to contact me off list if you'd like to 

Heather Field

-----Original Message----- 
From: Valerie Gibson via NOBE-L
Sent: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 2:56 PM
To: National Organization of Blind Educators Mailing List
Cc: Valerie Gibson
Subject: [nobe-l] Running records?

Good day educators,

I’m in my last field placement (internship) before I start student teaching 
in the fall.

This semester we’re learning how to actually teaching reading, math, science 
and social studies to kids.  We took classes on this before, ut it was just 
theory sort of work. Now we’re building on that and acutually creating 
lesson plans and completing other assignments that we will use our 

My professors met with me and our access center at the university to discuss 
any questions they had for assignments throughout the semester.

. I say all of that to say that that’s where I’m cmingg from if I bombard 
you with questions this semester.

The question for today is  in regards to running records.

>From what my prof described, running records are Teachers will sit down with 
a student and read with that student a book that that student happens to be 
reading. It’s a “read on the fly” sort of thing for it to be authentic.  The 
teacher will then make notes on that student’s reading.  I don’t know much 
more than that.

The prof is willing to make accommodations to complete the assignment if any 
are needed, but she also wants to make sure I get as authentic of an 
experience as I cfor the classroom.

I’m not sure which grade level I’ll be working with, but can you tell me how 
you have done running records with sighted students? Are there any 
accommodations that need to be made, that I. Would also be allowed to make 
in my classroom? Is it easy to immediately pull of the book that the student 
is reading?  What things should I do beforehand to prepare?

Thanks for any feedback you could provide.
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