Using Running Records to Provide for Differentiated Instruction

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Differentiated instruction is matching instruction to meet the different needs of learners in a given classroom. The first step in developing differentiated instruction is assessment. We must first discover the different individual needs of each student in the classroom in order to appropriately modify instruction. Every child in your classroom is an individual, with their own special talents, skills, abilities, and areas of weakness. Each student may also have their own style of learning, which makes the jobs of teachers quite difficult. How are we to meet the needs of each of our students when they have different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles? I am going to explore the possible solutions to this problem by investigating the use of running records to assess children's strengths and weaknesses in reading and how we can use that information to differentiate instruction to best meet the needs of all students in the classroom. First we must discuss a running record. A running record is one method of assessing a child's reading level by examining both accuracy and the types of errors made. It is useful for teachers in several ways. First, it gives the teacher an indication of whether material currently being read is too easy or too difficult for the child. Secondly, it serves as an indicator of the areas where a child's reading can improve--for example, if a child frequently makes word substitutions that begin with the same letter as the printed word, the teacher will know to focus on getting the child to look beyond the first letter of a word. Running records may be done frequently or only occasionally to assess a child's reading progress. There are a variety of forms of running records and teachers and schools can select one that is best suited for them. In my school and classroom we use the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project Running Record and Fountas & Pinnell Reading Levels. With this running record the teacher will have a one on one conference with the student and ask them to read a passage from a book on their independent reading level. At the beginning of the year we use the students records from the previous year to determine their reading level and if that is not available we estimate and use trial and error until we find the right fit. The passage is provided by the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project for the student and for the teacher, with room for recording miscues, taking notes, and questions. Taking running records involves four steps:

1.Recording the student's oral reading using a set of conventions. Set of Conventions for Coding Reading Errors
BehaviorConvention shown with error
Substitution walked
Today I went to my new school. (error)
Self-correction walked|SC
Today I went to my new school.
Repetition ______
Today I went to my R new school.
Repetition with self-correction walked|R|SC
Today I went to my new school.
Omission ____
Today I went to my new school. (error)
Insertion see
Today I went to ? my new school. (error)
Long Pause #
Today I went to my new school.
Told ______.
Today I went | T to my new school. (error)

2.Determining the sources of information (meaning, structure, or visual) the reader used to make an error, and, if self-correction occurred, the sources of information added to correct the error. 3.Considering the student's use of meaning, structure, and visual in light of the reading process. This requires using just enough of each source of information to accurately interpret the author's message. 4.Making teaching decisions based upon the reader's needs as determined by the analysis in the steps above. There are three factors to be considered when assessing a reader. These factors include accuracy and self-corrections, comprehension, and fluency. The oral reading of the passage...
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