Introducing Front Row
There are some people who are probably convinced that I am becoming a walking advertisement for web-based resources in the classroom. However, as I’ve said several times before, the makers of these resources haven’t asked me to do this, nor have I told them in advance that I am writing about their products. (I do try to track them down on Twitter and let them know after the fact so that they will know that I am using their product.)
So why do I keep writing about these tools? Mostly because I am one of the instructional technology specialists in my building and I love sharing the technology that we, as teachers, can use for, well, instruction. (I love it when names mean exactly what they sound like!) That’s all. I do it because I am looking for the tools, I like trying them out, and I love to share what works.
The latest digital learning tool I have found was introduced to me by one of the third grade teachers in our building. She started using it and suggested that the rest of the staff use it. I looked into it, checked out the tutorials, and realised it would be a great way to differentiate math instruction in my classroom.
The tool is Front Row, an online learning resource that provides math instruction, practice, and assessment aligned to all of the core math learning standards from kindergarten all the way through high school! As with many other such tools, the account is set up under my name and then students are logged in under me, so none of their personal information is shared outside my teacher dashboard. It took about five minutes to create my class roster, then I just had to have my students go to the site, enter their names, and enter our unique class code. (For primary students, a teacher or other adult will probably have to do this for them, but my intermediate students were able to do it on their own!)
Once students get logged in, they do a baseline assessment in any of the core math content areas: operations and algebraic thinking, numbers and operations in base ten, measurement and data, geometry, numbers and operations–fractions. (The other content areas are for upper grades, such as ratios, statistics, functions, etc.) After students complete at least ten questions, they can start working on individual practice that is aimed at their level of learning.
There are a lot of things that I really like about this resource, but one of my favourites is how user-friendly it is! Once students get started, they can work on their own, at their own level and their own pace. There are a lot of ways for me as a teacher to examine the work students were doing and to keep track of their progress. I also appreciate that this is set up to work on desktop or laptop computers via the website (Google Chrome is the preferred browser), tablets (iPads or Android devices) with free apps, and even Chromebooks (also using the website through an app).
Ideally, we will be able to use Front Row every day, along with XtraMath and other tools. Because I recently received a classroom set of Chromebooks, I am planning on using a lot of digital resources to modify my classroom instruction in a way that student-directed learning becomes the norm instead of the exception!