(Note: All images used in this post are screencapped directly from the Front Row website, and meant to be visual guides throughout this post. Rosen Shepherd is a fake student for this post, and her name has been edited since to keep anyone from logging in as her.)
Show of hands: How many times have you wanted to find a free program that will differentiate instruction for students in English and mathematics AND allow the teacher to analyze all of the data? Again, free is the name of the game when your district is on a budget for this teacher resource as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Front Row.
Front Row is another program I was introduced to at the Infusing Technology Spring Showcase. It is a computer adaptive program for students whose needs fall in the K-8 range of English Language Arts and Mathematics. There are two versions- free and school edition. The free edition includes all of the math program. The limitations come with the ELA side- teachers can only assign 5 articles to students per month. The articles are
adapted to the students’ levels. The school edition includes many features- an administrator dashboard, an upgraded teacher dashboard, benchmarking tools, inquiry lessons, and professional development. There is no estimated cost for the School Edition, only that anyone interested should contact Front Row for a quote.
Signing up for Front Row is quick and easy. Simply fill out the requested information and you will be off and running. Front Row will also ask you to select your school. The very next thing that teachers will see is the tutorial page with Piggy, Front Row’s mascot. If you’re a first time user, make sure to go through Piggy’s tutorial. If not, click Skip and you’ll be taken to your dashboard. Here you can set up your rosters, manage assignments, check out data and more. To manage a roster, simply click the green “Manage Roster” button in the upper left corner. From there, you can add students to the default class, create a new class, or change the name of the class.
For the sake of this blog post, I’ve created a sample student named Rosen Shepherd who is in 4th grade. For Rosen, I will only be able to see her current data for the week, and not any past data. Front Row only offers this feature to the School Edition accounts, not past ones. Rosen is now ready to log in and begin using Front Row. Rosen will be required to take a diagnostic test so that Front Row can place her level accordingly. Notice that in the blue bar for Rosen’s class, there is also a code. I’ll need to give this to Rosen when she logs in to Front Row.
Rosen’s student login screen is very simple. All Rosen needs to do is enter her first and last name, and the class code. Then she logs in. Rosen’s dashboard looks very simple and colorful. Depending on the day’s assignment, she chooses whether or not she is working on Math or English. Today, Rosen will select Math. Since this is Rosen’s first time, any of the math areas selected will given Rosen a diagnostic test.
Rosen’s dashboard pictured above
During the diagnostic, Rosen will have access to different tools. There’s a pencil tool to write on the blank whiteboard space. There are numbers to be dragged over (since she’s doing Counting and Operations), there’s an eraser tool, and there’s a speaker tool that will read the question and answer choices to her if she needs help. The diagnostic will take 5-10 minutes, depending on Rosen’s skill level. Once Rosen has finished the diagnostic, she’ll be placed on the board at a skill where she needs to work, and will be able to move up from there. Rosen can also choose to do any of the other diagnostic skills. Throughout, she’ll earn coins for correct answers and lose coins for wrong answers. Once a diagnostic is finished, a window may pop up and tell her that she can visit the Piggy Store.
Piggy Store is a place where students only have 90 seconds to make decisions. In the store they can buy accessories and backgrounds for their Piggy character, all while a clock counts down the seconds left in the store. The time limit is a good thing because it keeps the students from spending too much time in the store, and allows them to get back to practicing instead. However, students may earn trips to the store multiple times in a session because they have worked on completing skill areas. Every time a window will pop up to let the student know if they’ve earned a trip to the store.Students have the option to visit, or they can decline.
I had Rosen take a few diagnostic assessments. Let’s sign back in to our teacher account and see how she’s doing. Below, you can see the different types of report options available to teachers in Front Row.
For the sample here, I chose to pull up the Report Card and then selected Rosen. As you can see, the report card is very detailed for what she has accomplished. This report can then be printed and used for any documentation or IEP purposes that the teacher requires. Teachers can hover over any of the charts to get an accurate reading. Teachers can also click on the current standards. The next screen will explain what the standard is, as well as give sample types of questions that the student will see.
Switching to the ELA side of things, teachers will find that it is much less detailed, but that is because most of the options on the ELA sections are not available without purchasing the School Edition. Students can, however, take the diagnostic. When I took the diagnostic as Rosen, I was provided with two sample reading passages and comprehension questions. The passages weren’t too long, and there were only a few questions. After I had completed the diagnostic, I was able to choose to read articles on my own, and answer the questions that went with them. The articles for Rosen are now much longer and have more questions to answer. I switched back to the teacher view to assess Rosen’s diagnostic test, and it had her at a 7.4 grade level. The bananas article I selected as her to read on her own was 8.2. I did not have any say in the level of the article; the program automatically adjusted for Rosen’s needs.
Rosen’s sample diagnotic passage
Some of the articles that Rosen can choose to read on her own. These are geared to her reading level from the diagnostic.
Unlike the math, the reports available on the English side are not as detailed or in depth. This may be a result of using the free version only. However, the English side is a good way for teachers to differentiate instruction for students in small groups. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the teacher can only assign 5 articles per month to students with the free edition, but the articles will automatically adjust to each students’needs.
Overall, Front Row is an amazing tool for teachers to integrate into their classrooms. It works great for small group instruction, as well as varying instruction levels to match the abilities and skills of students within the classroom. I’d recommend trying out the free edition to begin with to make sure it is a good fit in your classroom. If the free edition provides the results you want, then contact the company for a quote for the school edition of the program, especially if you want to get more out of the English section. If anyone has the school edition and would be willing to share their experiences with me, please feel free to contact me!