Help us congratulate these students on their fabulous reading gains!
When it comes to motivating students to keep on truckin’ even when the work gets challenging, we’ve seen teachers go the extra mile…or ten!
Pizza parties, doughnut breaks, gift cards. Special assemblies, bulletin boards, and t-shirts. One school in New Orleans handed out Mardi Gras prizes. Another in Illinois used raffle tickets and ice cream. And yet another school in Texas threw a “Peary party” to celebrate all the great learning they did with Pear Deck.
Teachers are ingenious at figuring out how to keep students engaged, and we're excited to join them in motivating hard-working students!
Enter Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club, an exclusive group for students who get 100 consecutive right answers when working in the adaptive literacy and language program Fast ForWord®. The club was started in April of 2022 by Tom Chapin, a well-loved Fast ForWord Customer Education Manager who has been supporting implementations for 17 years. To date, 39 students have joined.
Let’s look at a few of the many stories featuring students growing into confident, joyful readers with Fast ForWord.
Oxford Hills Middle School, South Paris, Maine
When Janette Larrabee, a seventh grader at Oxford Hills Middle School, learned that she had answered more than 100 consecutive questions correctly on the Fast ForWord component Illuminator, she texted her mom, Tina Larrabee, with a simple, “Guess what happened?”
“Tell me,” Tina replied.
“No, you have to guess,” insisted Janette.
“I didn’t want to make her worry,” Janette explains, “But I did want to make it a little bit of a mystery.” Tina had to wait until Janette got home from school that day to learn that Janette actually got 127 answers in a row right and was now an official member of Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club.
“It was exciting to see that I could get that far in Illuminator,” says Janette. “It made me feel accomplished.”
“We were really proud of her,” Tina adds. “She always tries her best at everything and wants to learn. And it’s nice to see her proud of herself.”
Janette, who enjoys babysitting, reading mysteries, and exploring the world with her Girl Scout troop in her free time, started using Fast ForWord four weeks into the 2022–23 school year. “It was challenging at first,” Janette reports, “but after a while, the process started to make sense in my head, and I could understand it.” When asked how her relationship with reading has changed since working with Fast ForWord, Janette reports that she “can read bigger words now and actually understand what I’m reading and summarize it better.”
Sharon Castonguay, literacy interventionist at Oxford Hills Middle School, shares some insight into Janette’s journey to the 100-in-a-Row Club: “At first, Janette wasn’t giving herself time to think about the activities. But unsurprisingly, when she started taking the time she needed to think through each question, she started getting more answers correct.”
According to Ms. Castonguay, Janette is not only getting more right answers in Fast ForWord these days, but she’s also learning more from her mistakes. “I can tell when she’s really thinking about a new skill,” says Ms. Castonguay, “because when she gets a question wrong, and the program shows her what’s right, she’ll put that idea in play and start getting more right answers. She’s applying what she’s learned, and that’s a huge achievement.”
Ms. Castonguay, who has worked with Fast ForWord for several years, has good things to say about the benefits of Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club. “Janette was my first 100-in-a-Row success this year,” she says. “But I know there will be others. And it’s a good motivator. While it’s great for me to praise my students, when a certificate comes from an outside source, that’s pretty big.”
Ms. Castonguay’s predictions about more students succeeding with the 100-in-a-Row Club have already come true. At the time of publication, two of Janette’s peers have joined her, and we look forward to celebrating more Oxford Hills Middle School successes in the future!
Farmingdale Elementary School, Pleasant Plains, Illinois
Cue the balloons and party hats because we’re celebrating a student who got not one but three 100+ streaks on Fast ForWord!
Meet Daniel Pottoff, a 3rd grader at Farmingdale Elementary School in Pleasant Plains, Illinois, who recently got 139, 193, and a whopping 285 correct answers in a row on Ocean Explorer, an exercise in the Elements 1 component of Fast ForWord.
“I knew Daniel would respond well to the challenge to keep improving,” says Reading Aid Missy Coffey, who has worked with Daniel on Fast ForWord since Daniel’s 1st grade days. “He’s very competitive, and he loves sports. So at first, he was motivated to do as well as or better than his peers, and then it became about beating his own record. The fact that the Fast ForWord activities have a game-like feel to them helped Daniel stay on track.”
Daniel, who plays football, basketball, and baseball, says that one of the keys to his success with FastForward came from staying laser focused—just like he does on the field, court, or diamond.
“I find a quiet place to sit in the classroom,” Daniel says, “and I give myself space, put my headphones on, and focus really hard.”
“I can tell when Daniel is in the zone with his Fast ForWord exercises,” says Ms. Coffey, “Because he gets this intense look of concentration on his face. He’s a very determined kid when he has something concrete to work towards.”
Both Daniel and Ms. Coffey agree that Daniel’s hard work is paying off. “I’m starting to read longer books,” Daniel reports. “With chapters. And reading definitely is not as hard as it used to be.”
“I can really see a change in Daniel’s literacy abilities and confidence level,” Ms. Coffey confirms. “And his classroom teacher agrees that she has seen his confidence improve a lot. He’s not afraid to try new things or take on challenges because he knows that, as long as he puts in the necessary effort, he’ll get there.”
As far as advice for students new to Fast ForWord, Daniel advises them to “keep working hard and stay laser focused.”
Thanks for the excellent advice, Daniel. Congratulations on all your success, and welcome to the 100-in-a-Row Club!
Odyssey Preparatory Academy, Buckeye, Arizona
Ready to be impressed? Gina Ortega, reading interventionist and a member of the teacher support staff at Odyssey Preparatory Academy, has had no fewer than eleven students join Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club as of December 2022!
“Our school introduced Fast ForWord about three years ago,” explains Ortega, who has worked at Odyssey Prep for six years. “We’re all seeing growth, and we’re very pleased with it. I do Fast ForWord in my classroom every day, and I absolutely love it.”
Ortega began the school year by posting three charts in her classroom for 3rd-5th graders. One chart is for 50 correct answers in a row, one for 75, and one for 100. When students get 50 correct answers, they get to spend one class period working in a beanbag chair. Seventy-five correct answers earn them the beanbag for two days, and 100 in a row means they get to spend a class period working from an enclosed clubhouse, which, Ortega attests, “they really love.”
Ortega’s self-devised incentive program is a good reminder that students don’t always need fancy parties or expensive gift cards to do their best. Sometimes, a comfy place to sit is all the motivation kids need.
Knowing that their efforts will be acknowledged and rewarded has shifted the environment in Ortega’s classroom. “They really enjoy coming to class and working on their goals which is always to get at least 50 in a row correct,” says Ortega. “And they work so hard even when it’s not easy. It takes a lot of concentration, focus, and determination. But when they get a streak of right answers, they get so excited. I enjoy seeing their faces.”
Congratulations to Ms. Ortega and her students on their phenomenal 100-in-a-Row Club success, and keep up the great work!
Do You Have a Student Ready to Join Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club?
Here’s how to join Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club:
Identify students who get a streak of 100+ correct answers in Foundations I & II, Elements I & II, or Reading Comprehension.
Take a screenshot of your student’s “Today’s Report” that shows that they’ve achieved at least 100 under the “Highest Streak” column.
Email the screenshot and details you want on the certificate (e.g., students’ full name, school name, teacher name) to Tom Chapin at email@example.com.
Mr. Tom will email you a special certificate for your student.
Want to learn more? Check out the video below.
When it comes to understanding how Fast ForWord can build confidence and literacy skills, no one says it better than Mr. Tom himself: "In working with thousands of Fast ForWord students over the span of 17 years, I've noticed that nothing builds confidence in our students more than their realization that they really CAN answer question after question after question accurately. When students experience this kind of success, they are more willing to immerse themselves in their Fast ForWord exercises. As a result, continued motivation and success almost always follow.”
Want to learn more about the program behind Mr. Tom’s 100-in-a-Row Club? Fast ForWord is an adaptive online reading program that uses the science of learning to build literacy, cognitive, and social-emotional skills. Its robust data reporting allows teachers to pinpoint precisely where students need more support, and as illustrated by our 100-in-a-Row Club successes, students will self-motivate with Fast ForWord as they grow their love for reading!
Before joining Carnegie Learning’s marketing team in 2021, Emily Anderson spent 16 years teaching middle school, high school, and college English in classrooms throughout Virginia, Pennsylvania, California, and Minnesota. During these years, Emily developed a passion for designing exciting, relatable curricula and developing transformative teaching strategies. She holds master's degrees in English and Women’s Studies and a doctorate in American literature and lives for those classroom moments when students learn something that will forever change them. She loves helping amazing teachers achieve more of these moments in their classrooms.Explore more related to this author