Students use Fast Forward to gain classroom skills

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By Kathryn Jacewicz, Staff writer

BOLIVIA—Brunswick County Academy students are working on improving literacy by using an individualized learning computer program.

Fast Forward is a literacy program that helps students work toward improving grade-level skills. While the program offers different levels and subjects, students are currently focusing on reading, vocabulary and building listening skills.

The first portion usually takes students between six and 15 weeks to complete. BCA students have only been using the program for three weeks, and four of them have already completed the first portion.

BCA had an ice cream party Friday for students who have already completed 50 percent or more of the first portion. Even though students were given time out of class for the party, most chose to eat their ice cream while working on Fast Forward.

The students spend 50 minutes, five days a week working on the program and are enjoying it so much, they are asking other teachers to let them out of classes to spend more time on the computer.

“It’s enjoyable,” Lexas Granger, eighth-grader, said.

As the students complete lessons, they receive points, which they can use at BCA’s Fast Forward store to buy school supplies or snacks.

The incentives help them want to complete as many lessons as they can, but the program’s results are already showing. One student advanced two grade levels in just three weeks of working on the program.

“It’s put into software in a way that they can really relate to it,” Kimberly Robbins, Fast Forward facilitator said. “It’s reinforcing it in a fun way.”

Robbins said Cumberland County has used it in several classrooms and showed “tremendous growth” on the End of Grade (EOG) tests. The BCA students have several more projects to work on before the EOGs.

“We’re hoping to see lots of growth on the EOGs,” Robbins said.

Brunswick County Board of Education Chairwoman Shirley Babson joined students Friday, and said she was proud of their commitment to the program.

“It shows that you really can succeed,” she said.