How I Use It
I use Front Row on a daily basis in my 4th grade classroom. To me, it is a great tool for re-teaching mathematics to students. They can access it on any computer, log-on with the class key, and begin working through questions. Because of this easy accessibility, I use it as an independent station to work at while I am working with another small group. Front Row offers the students a preliminary exam to determine their level in the category, and then the program uses those answer to give the students individualized lessons. These individualized lessons offer a level of differentiation that just cannot be obtained in a classroom of 26 or more students. Also, because it aligns with the Common Core, it exactly matches the curriculum that I am teaching. The best part of Front Row is the report that it offers the teacher. As the teacher, I have access to the Common Core standards, and how the student fared on that particular aspect of mathematics. From that, I can use sample questions to help push my small group instruction even further. However, for all the wonderful differentiation this brings to the table, there are still a couple of problems with Front Row. The first thing to be careful about with Front Row is the wording of the questions. It is great to have word problems offered to the students through the program, but sometimes the wording can be confusing to the students, causing them to answer incorrectly. The second item to be careful about is the many different methods of answering a problem without directions explaining what to do. I have had a couple students tell me they cannot figure out how to answer the problem, but that they know what the answer should be.
Front Row is a great teaching tool to use in the classroom, especially for classrooms where small group instruction exists. The ability to differentiate for the students is spectacular, and the student engagement is incredible. The reports help drive the teacher's instruction, and allow for differentiation in small group work. Sample problems help guide the teacher to create better word problems for their students. Meanwhile, the sample problems are a good way to guide the students to a better understanding of the concept. Students have a wonderful opportunity to learn through word problems (a big part of Common Core) and practice the mathematics skills they need to succeed. To better serve the students, Front Row could add clarity to their directions and word problems so students avoid confusion. However, the flaws do not compare to the great upside that Front Row brings to education and student learning. Front Row is a program that should exist in any classroom looking to differentiate their mathematics instruction.