How I Use It
Front Row has been very useful in allowing students to work on practicing Common Core math skills at their own level and pace. The questions get easier if a student gets it wrong and harder if they continue to be successful. The students enjoy the element of earning coins to buy things for their little creatures, such as the Piggy. Students are engaged and are using the questions to practice and reinforce what we have been working on in class. For certain advanced students, it allows them to go on to more challenging concepts.
I think this is a wonderful addition to my math instruction. Early finishers can get out a device (iPad or computer) and use Front Row, and I know they are practicing Common Core math skills at their level. Sometimes when used for the whole class, students who are struggling can practice answering questions that are challenging for them using the various tools.
A few bits of constructive criticism are:
- Sometimes the program can have glitches and the students complain that they completed a level, but Front Row is not allowing them to go to the next level. This can be discouraging and frustrating for them and me.
- For the students who struggle the most with number sense and mathematical concepts, the videos don't always seem to help that well. Also, the funtion where Front Row reads the question aloud does not always work, for example on the laptops.
- I would like to see more ease of use with the math manipulatives when the students are figuring out a solution to a problem.
- The adaptive part works best when students complete the questions all on their own. If they ask for help and someone else tells them the answer (which often happens at this age, 1st grade), then they keep getting harder questions. So I tell them to do it independently. However, Front Row keeps suggesting to students that they get help from other classmates, and they give certain names of students who may be able to help. This seems counterproductive to the adaptive model.
- I don't think they do a great job of teaching new concepts. There are certain standards that students work on before I teach them (maybe at home) and when I get to that concept in class, they have some misconceptions about it based on what they tell me they "learned" in Front Row.
Overall, I love how engaged the students are, and it is all at their level. I love the weekly reports I receive from Front Row about my students' progress. It is a valuable tool for enhancing and differentiating my math instruction.