K-4 graders at Farmingdale Elementary School in Illinois build literacy, confidence, and pride with Fast ForWord.
When Missy Coffey started working as a reading interventionist at Farmingdale Elementary School in Pleasant Plains, Illinois, in 2019, she had never heard of Fast ForWord®.
But her school had been using the adaptive language and literacy program for more than 20 years, so she dove right in and is thrilled with the reading gains she’s seeing every day.
Fast ForWord is a confidence-builder.
Ms. Coffey oversees every kindergartener as they work in Fast ForWord for 30 minutes a day. She also works with students in grades one through four who need some extra help with their reading skills, also for 30 minutes a day.
“My teaching goals have always been to see every student succeed, gain confidence, and recognize their achievements,” says Ms. Coffey. “And Fast ForWord plays a big role in making this happen. The program is fun and engaging, and students look forward to coming to class every day.”
Ms. Coffey also says that she finds the robust data reporting helpful for giving each student the targeted help they need.
“I love that I can go in-depth on how a student is doing with the program,” she says. “It helps not only me but classroom teachers as well. At our monthly meetings, I can show them the printout for each student, and we can discuss how to address any issues they may have.”
Incentivizing student reading success
While Ms. Coffey’s students enjoy the game-like environment of Fast ForWord, she adds some incentives of her own for extra motivation.
“Since everyone in kindergarten has to participate, I set a challenge with all four classes competing with each other,” Ms. Coffey explains. “Each week, a trophy goes to the class with the most completion certificates. As the year goes on, the trophy moves from class to class, and at the end of the year, the classroom that had the trophy the longest gets an ice cream party. It is so lovely to see how hard they work to stay competitive!”
The bigger kids get in on the fun too.
“Two days a week, I set a specific goal for each grade based on what they need to work on,” explains Coffey, “And if they reach the goal, each student receives a sticker for their Chromebook or water bottle.”
And the incentives don’t stop there.
“We call Fridays ‘FRIYAYS!’ in my classroom,” Ms. Coffey explains. “I turn the lights off, spin the disco ball, and four students get to sit in special chairs for the work session. But the real kicker is the three-tiered cart I push around at the end of class. Students who get a level completion certificate can pick a prize. I have fidgets, sports necklaces, squishes, slap bracelets, slime, stickers, mini stuffed animals, fun pens and pencils, erasers, and so on.”
No wonder kids love coming to Ms. Coffey’s class.
Amazing Fast ForWord streaks
So, is all the hard work and gift-giving paying off?
In a word, yes!
“I had 16 students join Mr. Tom’s 100 in-a-Row Club this year,” Ms. Coffey beams, referring to the club that celebrates students who get 100+ correct answers in a row on any Fast ForWord exercise. “Two students had 200+ streaks in a row, and I have some kindergarteners who are already in the Elements level, which is really advanced for their age.”
“I think Fast ForWord is an amazing program for students, and it keeps me motivated, too,” says Ms. Coffey. “When students who didn’t like to read are suddenly picking up chapter books and reading on their own. Well, that’s just the best.”
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
I think Fast ForWord is an amazing program for students, and it keeps me motivated, too.
Missy Coffey, Reading Interventioist, Farmingdale Elementary School