Review by Marianne Rogowski, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2018


Target standards-based skills with dynamic practice and assessments

Subjects & skills

  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (60 Reviews)

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Pros: Interactive student assessments are tightly aligned with CCSS, and the teacher dashboard is very easy to use.

Cons: Filters may restrict student access to some content, and the basic version contains some limits on the ability to assign content and practice skills.

Bottom Line: Rich with content-aligned assessments, activities, printable worksheets, and progress analytics, this valuable resource promotes skills mastery through practice.

At first glance, Freckle (formerly Front Row) seems to be intended for practice and reinforcement, but a closer look reveals valuable teaching resources and opportunities for engagement. For example, if you're working on a specific Common Core standard -- say, 4.NBT.4 -- a simple click from the dashboard gives you access to a host of instructional materials, including videos and lessons from YouTube, Khan Academy, and LearnZillion. Students can complete teacher-assigned activities or practice skills independently, getting feedback and earning coins that they can spend on virtual goods in the Piggy Store. Teachers can also customize printable worksheets and activities in a variety of subject areas in order to address specific standards for which students need more practice.

At any point, you can have students complete an adaptive 10-30 minute pre-assessment for any domain. Afterward, check your dashboard to gauge their progress, and assign more practice as needed. Using this information, you can group your students accordingly to encourage more social learning. Though kids have the option to use either the web or the tablet app, they're likely to find the app more appealing; the touch interface may allow better manipulation of tools such as the virtual scratch pad and highlighting feature.

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Freckle is a practice website (and app) for grades K–8 that addresses skills and concepts for Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). From the dashboard, teachers can create rosters and add students, and students can sign in with their names and a class code. Teachers will find various reporting features, printable worksheets, a weekly student practice feed, progress monitoring tools, articles and assignments for core subject areas, and more. Teachers can peruse a set of sample student questions as well, allowing teachers to differentiate standards-based content for students (from basic math facts to writing skills to science inquiry lessons). Freckle is offered to teachers for free, but the School Edition upgrade offers more inquiry-based lessons and more comprehensive reports, and allows teachers to assign an unlimited number of targeted benchmark assessments.

Upon first logging in, students are prompted to complete a baseline assessment. They'll choose one of the program's 11 domains, targeting either foundational or more advanced skills before answering at least 10 questions. Teachers can use the results to assign students additional practice as needed throughout the program. Students can access Freckle using a tablet or from a web browser. All information is stored in the cloud, so kids can use different devices interchangeably. Furthermore, individual logins make it easy for students to share devices, if necessary.

Using Freckle's numerous and varied resources, students can become fluent in key skills they need to master learning concepts across subject areas. Students receive timely feedback, and they'll have access to virtual manipulatives such as number lines, graphs, shapes, highlighting tools, and more. Teachers can also scaffold reading passages across subject areas, enabling students to comprehend at their level as they practice skills. Since Front Row is adaptive, students will progress to more challenging content within the domain as they achieve mastery. While the pre-assessments provide a good diagnostic baseline for monitoring student progress, younger students might need some help getting started while more advanced students may have to answer multiple low-level questions before they're challenged.

Once students complete the pre-assessments, they're given appropriate activities to help them master more advanced skills. Teachers can also assign automatically differentiated, printable worksheets which, while not as interactive as on-screen exercises, should provide enough of a challenge to engage kids. With the School Edition, teachers can assign benchmark assessments to measure progress over time, identify strengths and weaknesses, or zero in on standards before a high-stakes state assessment. Freckle can be an excellent supplement to a dynamic classroom where students create, collaborate, and problem-solve, but teachers should be careful when assigning content to ensure a balance of skill practice and activities that promote deeper analysis, reflection, and concept application.  

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Virtual manipulatives and earning coins to shop for virtual gear make skill practice fun. The printable worksheets aren't as lively as the more dynamic features, but individualizing them might boost kids' interest.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Pre-assessments and activities are closely aligned with CCSS and the NGSS; many are adaptive, increasing in difficulty as students master skills.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The dashboard's FAQ section, demo videos, and blog give teachers useful guidance. Students get text and video feedback for incorrect answers. Virtual manipulatives, audio options, and a scratch pad support different learning needs.

Common Sense Reviewer
Marianne Rogowski Media specialist/librarian

Teacher Reviews

(See all 60 reviews) (60 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Lynn D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Franklin Elementary School
Succasunna, United States
I love that I can collect data for math and ElA in one place for each of my students. Front Row makes it easy to differentiate lessons, and the kids love earning coins, as well as having a choice in what they want to learn about.
I love that I can collect data for math and ElA in one place for each of my students. Front Row makes it easy to differentiate lessons, and the kids love earning coins, as well as having a choice in what they want to learn about. Students choose to use this website for their technology practice center and to read articles of their choice at home.
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