The first in our new series, Teacher Talks, features Jennifer Auten (twitter), a teacher at Montclaire Elementary in Los Altos, CA. If you’d like to share your story about helping your students excel at math, please drop us a line.
Tell us about how you are using Front Row in your classroom
My students are currently using the numbers in base ten, operations, and geometry sections of Front Row. I have a student who is generally low in all areas of math. This student has been really perseverant with his learning. During choice time he returns to Front Row and likes to review the videos and practice more problems. He has gained a lot of confidence by using the manipulatives and writing tools to act out the problem before choosing an answer.
This strategy is exactly what we are working on whole class–showing their work and explaining how they arrived at an answer and why it is correct. With additional practice I have seen improvement in his understanding of math concepts. We had a visitor in class last week and this student was able to demonstrate Front Row for the visitor and explain the concepts at each level of math he was working on at that time.
Tell us about your students
My students love to help each other. It always makes me smile when one student goes out of their way to help a peer fix a problem, clean up supplies, or understand something. I have several students in class this year that don’t use iPads or other electronic devices at home so they are less familiar with the technology than some of their classmates. The more tech-savvy students are doing a great job of pointing out next steps (how to adjust the volume, how to take a screenshot, etc.) without being bossy.
What are the best ways you’ve found to use your iPads in your classroom?
I like to use iPads for everything, they are so versatile! My 1st and 2nd students use them for math facts and spelling tests as well as daily sentence editing. They read websites and books on the iPads and complete comprehension activities. Students create visual, audio and video projects and teach each other concepts. They also demonstrate their thinking, write on different topics, and are doing some basic coding.
Over the last few years I’ve gradually gone from a ratio of 6:1 students:iPad to 2:1. I’ve always worked out activities with and without the iPad on either a rotating basis or had students work in small groups–now I can decrease the number of rotations needed to allow all students their turn on the iPad and make the group size smaller.
Are you and your school taking any initiatives to prepare for the Common Core?
My school has had a variety of training related to Common Core. We are using MARS tasks, number talks, and Problem of the Month to deepen understanding of math concepts. I have used Front Row with my students to tie math practice more closely to the Common Core Standards and to allow students to advance at their own pace. For ELA my school is incorporating more non-fiction texts and project-based learning. Rather than reading an anthology selection a week we are developing cross-curricular themes. We are piloting a report card tied to the Common Core Standards and have participated in Sound Grading training.