Monday, September 24, 2012

Superstar 600

Oh boy! Well, first of all, I thought it would be a lot easier to update this more frequently.  I am sure I will get better at it - I just need to get in the habit.

Today I want to tell you about the Superstar 600!  One of the ways we are trying to improve our reading (particularly our accuracy and fluency) is to make sure that all the kids in Room 13 can easily read the most common sight words.  Back in 1996, Dr. Fry studied many different pieces of writing and found that there were certain words that kept showing up over and over again.  He made a list and then organized them so that the most popular words are first on the list.  It turns out that the first 100 words make up about half of all printed material!  The first 300 words make up about 65%!  Imagine how much easier reading is when these words are easy and automatic.

Our goal in 4th grade is to be able to read the first 600 words on the list just by sight.  Similar to knowing "2+2=4" and "summer comes after spring," it will save so much time and brain effort if these 600 words are automatic. This picture is the first page of The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  On the page, the highlighted words are all part of the first 600 list.  They make up over 80% of the words on the page!  That means the reader can really concentrate on the 20% of the words that require figuring out.

So, you might be wondering how we're going to make this happen.  Well, luckily, an amazing teacher named Jennifer Bates put together easy-to-read lists for these words and some really cute stars to help display everyone's progress.

During our Reading Workshop, I meet with individual kids and ask them to read me a couple lists of words.  They start on white paper and then move through the colors of the rainbow.  Each page represents 100 words, but it is divided into 5 lists of 20 words.  If they read the list quickly and smoothly, they get to put a sticker on the star of the same color.  If they get tripped up, we highlight the words that they missed and they keep the page to practice.  Then we try again in a couple days.  We have stars that go with each color as well.

The kids are still working on becoming independent readers during Reading Workshop, so we are getting a slow, but steady, start.  Once the kids are able to read on their own for 15-20 minutes, I will be able to meet with individuals for just a minute each and get through the lists nice and quick.  As students complete fill a star (meaning that they have mastered a complete list of 100 words!) they will add their star to our display.  The white stars will fill in the cloud and then the other colors will add to the rainbow.
How can you help? 
If there is a list that seems really tricky for a student, I will send home a copy in their DOT binder (more on those coming soon!).  Please keep an eye out for these lists coming home and then help your fourth grader practice the highlighted words.  Put them on the fridge, keep them in the car, anything to help your kiddo become as familiar with them as possible!  Hopefully by Open House (on October 4th) we will have some stars up there on the wall!
Click here for the list of the First 100 words!


  1. Fantastic. I am going to print this out and keep a copy everywhere.

    1. I added a link that will make it easy to print the first 100. I will add the rest as I make them :)