Contributing Author: Stephanie Wright
It seems our school district is always on the lookout for a new, terrific online program to reinforce Math and ELA standards, and yet so many of these programs have come and gone. So when another teacher in my building came across Front Row, I was skeptical at first. The setup was easy enough, and you can’t beat trying something for free, so I reserved the Chromebook lab and gave it a shot. My students and I have been hooked ever since.
'Front Row Fridays': Maximizing Learning During Lab Time:
Having a background in gifted education, I understand the importance of differentiating for high achieving students as well as those with learning disabilities. One thing my students love about Front Row is that they can excel at their own pace. My high-level students work ahead and complete to see who can finish a domain the fastest. Some have even progressed to the advanced domains. Other students are content to progress towards grade level knowing that they are earning coins.
When I realized how much my students enjoyed Front Row, I started ‘Front Row Fridays’. I sign up for 45 minute blocks in our open computer lab every Friday. It gives the classes something to look forward to, and allows me time to conference with every student about their progress for that week. 'Front Row Fridays' also provide me an opportunity to pull small groups without having to worry about keeping everyone else on task.
To get ready for 'Front Row Fridays', several things take place. First, all my classes have Computer Lab for one of their Activity periods at some point Monday-Thursday. Usually, I let them practice under any domain of their choice, although twice a week I assign all students an activity from the assessments tab. By Thursday afternoon, I look at individual analysis reports, and the Groups & Matrix report. I either print out the Individualized Practice pdf for each class, or I print out a particular standard sheet if I am going to pull a small group. For example, this week the Matrix report noted that several students need extra practice with 2.OA.1 (Operations & Algebraic Thinking). I printed them a page for it, and this Friday I will work with them during Front Row time.
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At the lab, the students are working on either assignments or the adaptive practice. I’ll pull a small group and when that’s over, the kiddos will return to working on the computer. Sometimes, I’m able to fit in two small groups. If I do not pull a group, I will call up students one at a time and show them their individual analysis report so they can have a better idea of the progress they are making.
As I developed more of a routine with Front Row, every student received a folder where they keep their Individualized Front Row printouts. I then was able to meet with a few students in each class every day to see who needs help. Students were able to easily store this information in their individual folders. Having this resource also helps with RtI (response to intervention) time. Some groups are monitored by teacher assistants, so having a folder of work ready to pull out makes it easier on them, provides the Tier 2 students on-target practice, and gives me data on each child’s progress.
Final Words of Wisdom:
The students love our 'Front Row Fridays' routine. The best part is that the students are very motivated learners, more so with Front Row than with any other similar programs we have tried to use in the past.
Stephanie Wright has been a teacher in Tennessee for over 15 years. She’s taught everything from middle school math and science to a district gifted program. She’s spent the past four years teaching 4th grade math at David Crockett Elementary School. When she’s not teaching, Stephanie enjoys downtime at home with her husband and three daughters, singing at church and school functions and working with the school’s environmental club, Team Green.