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Super Speed 100 and Sight Word Recognition:
A Research Project
Problem Statement Defined and Clarified
Describe your teaching context.
I teach kindergarten at Mill Creek Elementary School in the Independence Missouri School District. We are a pre-K through 5th grade neighborhood school and we serve approximately 275 students...Two classrooms per grade level. Mill Creek is a regular education school and we qualify for Title I services.In my classroom, several students struggle to maintain good attendance. I have 23 kindergartners in my class. Many of them are very young 5-year-olds with summer birthdays, so at the beginning of the year, we spent a lot of time working on learning classroom procedures and routines. We also do quite a bit of community building, which helps the students feel comfortable and safe in our classroom environment. In our classroom, we have a student with autism, a student who is diagnosed bipolar, and several students with speech IEP’s for articulation and one for language concerns. There are many other students with individual needs such as visual impairment, asthma, and kidney issues with frequent restroom use. Mill Creek is a small but mighty school, and as a whole, we care about kids and do what it takes to help them be successful, regardless of circumstances.
I am a former student of Mill Creek, which puts an interesting spin on my employment there. Over 20 years ago, I lived in the very neighborhood we serve, and I feel that this has helped me strengthen my bond with families in the area. I grew up in a middle class home with a hard working mother and father. We never had it all, but we always had a little. I have a love of learning and books and children, which made teaching the perfect career choice for me. I am dedicated to my students and to helping them have success. I believe that all students have the ability to learn and that they want to be challenged. I hug my students regularly and I always talk about how much I love them and value them and their ideas. I enjoy going to work every day and my greatest desire as a teacher is to help students achieve their personal best.
Our curriculum is very structured and most of what I do is set by the state and the school district I work for. It can be challenging at times to “cover” all the material while still keeping things student centered. Each student requires careful consideration when creating lessons, and I do my best to ensure that each child gets what he or she needs to be at their personal best. Differentiation is a way of life for me, and I make it my mission to make what happens in my classroom all about my students.
State the Problem
Students are currently achieving well and making incredible gains in all curricular areas except for sight word recognition. Several children are struggling to make brain connections and remember the words within the allotted three seconds per word. Once the students have these words committed to memory, reading will become much more manageable for these struggling students.
This problem is significant because…
The 41 kindergarten sight words are taken from the top 100 words written in the English language. If students know these words, they will be more likely to become better and more confident readers. Likewise, if they do not know these words they are likely to become frustrated with reading and it will not be enjoyable for them. Once these students move into higher grade levels, curriculum is centered on reading across all content areas. For the purpose of this project, I will use Super Speed 100 and I will target the students who are achieving 25% and below in sight word recognition.
Background Information About Super Speed 100
Super Speed 100 is a free program created by educator Chris Biffle. It has been called a Power Teaching Reading Game and is being used by teachers across the country to boost student performance in sight word recognition. This is a supplemental game designed to enhance any traditional phonics based reading system. According to the website, “Super Speed 100 is a lively, entertaining game designed to teach beginning readers of any age 100 sight words…Sight words like “to, the, and, of” are the most common words in English. Only 100 sight words make up over 50% of all words students read. If these words cannot be read quickly…students’ odds of success in the rest of their education are significantly diminished” (Biffle, 2007). Biffle also states that “the more rapidly students can read sight words, the greater their reading fluency and pleasure” (2007).
Students work in pairs and take turns reading words on each level. In order to keep going, the partners must read words correctly and help each other if a mistake is made. A timer is set for one minute and students take turns reading words correctly as fast as they can until time is up. When the timer goes off, the students mark the last word read, then they are given another minute to try and beat their own team’s time. They may do the same section 2-5 times trying to beat their score. The next session, students will begin in the level that they last left off. There are 100 levels in the Super Speed Game. Each level from 1 to 100 adds one new word to the mix of words students have already practiced and learned. They see many words repeated throughout the program. The first word in the program is “the” so level one has only one word. From there, words are added one at a time and mixed about within each level. Every 10 levels there is a challenge round, which includes words up to that point. In order for a student to move past the challenge level, they have to perfectly complete the challenge level at least twice reading all words correctly. Level 100 contains all 100 words and to be completed at a mastery level, students must correctly read all 100 words within 60 seconds or less!
There are 41 kindergarten sight words. Students who have a baseline score that is 10 words or less will be in the target group for the research. (These students are achieving at or below 25%). After using the sight word program Super Speed 100 for at least 2 weeks in small groups daily, those students will recognize at least 20 high frequency sight words within the 3 second time allotment per word. (This will be a 25% increase in scores, and will put students at 50% achievement with sight words).
Teacher Outcomes: As the teacher, I will model appropriate use of the Super Speed 100 program, strategically pair students into workable teams based on ability level and personality, provide ongoing support throughout the process, and continuously monitor growth of student knowledge. I will decide if Super Speed 100 is a valuable intervention for sight word recognition based on student performance and achievement. If students do increase their scores by at least 25%, I will continue to use Super Speed and share my results with colleagues.
Student Outcomes: The students will be expected to work hard and to do their best as they complete each Super Speed session. They will be working to beat their own team’s best time, and after 2 weeks, their sight word recognition will improve by at least 10 words or 25%.
Rationale and Support For Outcomes
Super Speed 100 is an incredible tool that completely supports brain based learning. Because of the nature of Super Speed 100, students will be able to work at their own pace but will also be challenged to beat their own scores. According to J. Dianne Connell, “Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat: Students optimally benefit when their assignments are challenging and the classroom environment feels safe and supportive.” Student partners will be supportive and encouraging one another as they work, and because of this more students will be willing to take risks in such a setting. If someone makes a mistake, the partner provides support and students continue working. Self improvement and beating their own score is a powerful motivator, so students will be willing to step out of their comfort zone in order to increase achievement. Since the students are expected to be kind and respectful within their partnership as well as in the classroom as a whole, the stress of risk taking is greatly reduced. The positive emotions and excitement of learning and beating one’s own score associated with Super Speed will keep students actively engaged. In the article How Can Research on the Brain Inform Education? it states “Studies that explore the effects of attitudes and emotions on learning indicate that stress and constant fear, at any age, can circumvent the brain's normal circuits. A person's physical and emotional well-being are closely linked to the ability to think and to learn effectively” (n.d.).
Authors and educators Madrazo and Motz believe that “Teaching tied to positive emotional experiences will lead students to generate new thought and motivation to learn” (2005). They also state that “countless studies indicate that students retain the most by teaching others, practicing by doing, and discussing in groups. Immediate, active use of learning is clearly the best means of retaining information” (2005). Using Super Speed, students are teaching and learning alongside their partner. They are engaging in repetitious practice of the words as well as practicing by doing. Throughout each session, the students take turns touching and reading words, getting their bodies moving while completing the reading tasks. “Tactile, or 'hands-on', activities benefit everyone and should be plentiful and encouraged with all students. The reason for this relates to the two different memory systems in our heads…semantic and episodic memory” (Nunley, n.d.). Both the semantic and episodic memories are stimulated by movement and touch during learning activities. Ultimately, learning is committing something to our permanent memory.
Memory can be enhanced in many ways. According to the creator of the BrainBooster DVD series, some of these triggers or keys to memory enhancement include “Sensory – we remember things that involve our five senses. So, the more senses that get activate, the easier it will be to recall, Emotional – the amygdala – a round, pea-sized part in the middle of the brain - acts as a gate keeper, so when something happens that has high emotional content – positive or negative – the amygdale says, “This is important!” and we tend to remember it more easily, Personal importance – we naturally remember things that interest us and that have some personal importance and Repetition – the more often we recall information, the better we get at recalling on demand” (Chrapko, 2004). Each of these areas is an important piece that relates to Super Speed 100 as a successful intervention for students. Super Speed is sensory, it is emotional, it is important to the students personally, and it gives repetition.
According to brain researcher and educator Eric Jensen, the brain is nature’s engine. He explains, “Brain based education considers how the brain learns best…If you want to maximize learning, you first need to discover how nature’s engine works” (2008). By using Super Speed 100 as an intervention tool, I believe the students will experience growth and success like never before. Super Speed is definitely brain compatible and it will help my struggling students learn sight words effectively and use nature’s engine effectively.
Super Speed 100 really gives students a great boost and is an effective intervention for sight word recognition. The goal was for students to improve scores by at least 10 words. Each of the four targeted students improved by more than 10 words in just 3 weeks! What amazing growth!
Baseline score: 9/41 sight words
After Using Super Speed 100 daily for approximately 3 weeks: 21/41 sight words
Baseline score: 6/41 sight words
After Using Super Speed 100 daily for approximately 3 weeks: 19/41 sight words
Baseline score: 4/41 sight words
After Using Super Speed 100 daily for approximately 3 weeks: 20/41 sight words
Baseline score: 9/41 sight words
After Using Super Speed 100 daily for approximately 3 weeks: 24/41 sight words
Biffle, C. (2007). Super speed 100: teach anyone 100 sight words…and have a blast.Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/13884540/SuperSpeed100
Chrapko, T. E. (2004). Secrets of the brain: The mystery of memory. Retrieved from http://www.world-mysteries.com/sci_memory1.htm
Connell, D. J.(2009). The global aspects of brain based learning. Educational Horizons, 28-39.
How can research on the brain inform education? (n.d.). retrieved from http://www.sedl.org/scimath/compass/v03n02/brain.html
Jensen, E. (2008) Brain based learning: the new paradigm of teaching. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Madrazo, G. M. & Motz, L. L. (2005). Brain research: Implications to diverse learners. Science Educator, 14(1), 56-60.
Nunley, K.F. (n.d.) Why hands-on tasks are good. Retrieved from http://help4teachers.com/hands.htm
41 Kindergarten High Frequency Sight Words
the a my that red blue
green yellow orange brown black white
gray pink purple and I is
said it in can we are
you have to me go do
like from for he she has
all with was see of