Common Sense Review
Updated September 2016

Front Row

Zero in on Common Core math and ELA with personalized practice and assessments
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • The school edition includes a large bank of inquiry-based lessons.
  • The teacher dashboard lets you quickly assign benchmark assessments and other assignments.
  • Design specific printables to match Common Core standards.
  • ELA article series include videos, discussion questions, key vocabulary, and more.
  • Report cards show students' mastery of specific skills, making it easy to recommend further practice where needed.
Interactive student assessments are tightly aligned with Common Core standards, and the teacher dashboard is very easy to use.
The customizable, printable worksheets may not engage as much as more interactive, online resources.
Bottom Line
From content-aligned assessments and printable worksheets to excellent progress analytics, this valuable resource targets Common Core mastery.
Debbie Gorrell
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Assessments and virtual manipulatives offer fun ways to practice math skills. Though the printable worksheets won't be as lively as a more dynamic tool, the ability to individualize them might help 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? 4

Pre-assessment items are tightly aligned with the standards and increase in difficulty as students master skills. ELA activities are also closely aligned to Common Core.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

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

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How Can Teachers Use It?

While Front Row may be intended for practice and reinforcement, the site also provides some valuable teaching resources. For example, if you're working on a specific Common Core standard -- say, 4.NBT.4 -- a simple click from the dashboard gives access to a host of instructional materials, including video lessons from the likes of Khan Academy and LearnZillion. There are also printable worksheets and activities in a variety of subject areas which you can align to the specific standards your students find challenging.

At any point, you can have students complete a pre-assessment for any domain; be sure to allow them anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to complete these. 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.

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What's It Like?

Front Row is a math and ELA practice website (and app) for grades K-8 that is aimed at addressing Common Core skills. From the dashboard, teachers can create rosters and add students. Teachers will also find a report card feature, printable worksheets, a weekly student practice feed, grade-level graphs of student progress, a variety of articles and assignments for ELA, and more. Upon clicking lists of K-8 standards, teachers can peruse a set of sample student questions and teacher resources as well. Front Row is offered to teachers for free. But, for an additional fee, a school edition offers even more comprehensive reports and lets teachers assign an unlimited number of targeted benchmark assessments for students. The school edition also includes a greater number of inquiry-based lessons.   

In either version, students are prompted to complete a baseline assessment upon first logging in. 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 Front Row using a tablet or from a web browser (Front Row recommends Chrome). 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.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Using Front Row's interactive assessments, fact practice, and printable worksheets, students can become fluent in key skills to meet the Common Core standards in math. New activities also make it easy to progress through Common Core standards in reading, writing, and phonics/spelling. Throughout, students receive excellent video feedback for incorrect answers, and they'll have access to virtual manipulatives such as number lines, graphs, and shapes for many of the quiz items. These resources encourage kids to fully comprehend a skill before mastering it. Also, as students master skills, they'll progress to more challenging skills within the same domain. The printable worksheets are automatically personalized for each student's current learning level. Though these won't be as interactive as an on-screen exercise, the leveled work should help engage kids in a way that challenges them.

The pre-assessments provide a good diagnostic baseline for all work moving forward. The language on the domain selection page might be out of reach for some younger users; more advanced students may have to answer a lot of low-level questions before showing mastery. Nevertheless, once students complete this first step, they're given appropriate quizzes and worksheets to help them master more advanced skills. And, with the school edition, they can receive assignments for benchmark assessments, which can be used to measure progress over time, identify strengths and weaknesses, or zero in on standards practice before taking a high-stakes state assessment. 

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