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Teacher Talks: Meg Holmes on using data from Front Row to personalize instruction

Posted by Alex Kurilin on February 3, 2014 at 11:30 AM

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This edition of Teacher Talks features Meg Holmes, a third grade teacher at The American School of Barcelona in Spain, a PreK-12 private IB world school with students from over 40 countries

How do you use Front Row?

I read a lot of teaching and tech blogs, so I recall learning about Front Row on a blog I visit regularly. In September 2013, ASB started a Pilot Program with five iPads per classroom in grades 1-3, so I was searching for an app to use during math center time in my third grade classroom that aligned to the CCSS and would allow my students to practice and review math concepts at their own pace.

Students began using Front Row by taking a placement test to determine their understanding of CCSS math concepts. Based on their score, students are placed in a level and then advance through the lessons independently. After using Front Row for about a month in the classroom, I decided that the differentiated practice and tutorial videos were so effective that I wanted my students to use it for daily homework practice. Due to recent upgrades, students are now able to use Front Row on their iPad and PC’s, which ensures that all of them can access it from home.

Every week, Front Row sends me a report via email providing updates on students’ progress in each of the CCSS’ areas (e.g., NBT; CCOA). Students in my class complete all the lessons on Front Row aligned to the third grade standards before moving on to the next content area. This ensures they are mastering the content.  The app also has a teacher dashboard that shows me each student’s progress visually using an analysis matrix, recommendations for small groups based on the current standard each student is working on, and a standards-based report card with details about each student’s progress that can be printed and shared with parents. Front Row also provides differentiated printables for each student based on the current CCSS they are working on in the app.

Because of Front Row, I don’t have to:

  • I no longer have to search for resources to work with my small math groups. I am able use Front Row’s printables to remediate, review and extend students’ learning.

  • I don’t have to be concerned about students using an app that does not address their instructional needs. I know that with Front Row, all the students in my class are working at their “just right” level and, if they get stuck on a problem, they can watch a video tutorial to learn the concept. This frees me to work with other students in small groups and ensures that students are using their time effectively.

  • I don’t have to send math worksheets for homework that are too easy for some students and too difficult for others. I also don’t have to spend time correcting their homework with them in class.

Because of Front Row, I CAN:

  • I am able to design math lessons that challenge students to use different strategies to solve problems, and I know that Front Row provides them with the opportunity to apply these strategies using the virtual manipulatives and whiteboard space on the app.

  • I am able to see exactly where each student is in their learning because Front Row provides individual report cards that list all the CCSS math standards and whether students have mastered them or are currently in progress.

  • Thanks to Front Row’s “insights” tab, I can instantly see which students made the most/least progress and which standard(s) the highest percentage of students have struggled with. This helps me to focus my attention on the students who need additional tuition and also see which standard(s) I need to review.

Tell us about your students and how they’ve used Front Row

One of the students in my class began the year really struggling in math. She had changed schools several times and appeared to have a lot of gaps in her learning. She confused basic operations in math and was having such a hard time that her self-confidence was quite low. She had almost stopped listening during instruction.

There is something magical about putting an iPad into the hands of a child because when I introduced Front Row to the class, this student couldn’t wait to get started. She is making steady progress in math now and has almost mastered all the third-grade lessons in NBT. The video tutorials on Front Row supplement our class instruction and help this student build confidence in her math skills in a non-threatening environment.

Are you and your school taking any initiatives to prepare for the Common Core?

The American School of Barcelona is in the process of aligning our Math and English Language Arts curricula to the CCSS. Up until this year, ASB taught the AERO standards (American Education Reaches Out), which is a project supported by the U.S. Department’s of Overseas Schools Advisory Council to assist schools in developing and implementing standards-based curricula. We are currently updating our Math and ELA curricula to reflect the CCSS. ASB students in grades 3-9 take two standardized tests each year, the MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) and ISA (International Schools Assessment) to evaluate student progress and instruction and assess their academic level compared to other international schools.


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