Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What's "App"?! A Front Row Seat to an Amazing App!

Ok, I think it's safe to say I'm a creature of habit and routine.  I swear my second graders could run my classroom because of the insane structured routine we follow each day. :)  I thought it would be fun to share a new app or website I've found that is WORTH buying and using with your kiddos each week.  Therefore, I've devoted Wednesdays as "What's APP Wednesday?!" Creative isn't it--until I realized there was already an app called WhatsApp... crap...

So, it's Thursday night, and I'm paroosing around the app store wanting to update our class iPads with some new apps based on specific skills/ standards. I typed "Second Grade" into the search bar and little did I know, doing this would literally change the way I teach math in my classroom.  It was two little words that kept me up for the next 45 minutes clicking and reading and watching the awesomeness that is "Front Row."

Front Row is a FREE (yes FREE!) math app that is naturally differentiated.  Now, I don't know about you, but I think people throw the term "differentiated" around like it's going outta style {which we all know it definitely is not...}, so of course I was a little skeptical.  As I started reading it said things like:

"Naturally differentiated based on the various domains of the common core state standards."
"Provides over 15,000 common core questions which are graded automatically, and given to students based on their level." 

Ok, "Well, I'll just download it and see what it's all about," said the hesitant second grade teacher. 

This app literally changed my life....well, that's a little overkill, but it has changed my math life!! In a week's time, my kids now know how to round to the ten thousands place, multiply, (intro to) division, how to decipher word problems with three-four digit numbers involving multiple operations, and SO MUCH MORE! The best part about it is, the majority of them have learned it all on their own!!  Ok, let me slow down a minute because I'm getting ahead of myself...let me break it down na'--

1. Create a quick account via the Front Row app or (must use google chrome or firefox).  You will then get a student access code which your students will need to log onto Front Row.  **Another perk, your kids can add themselves into the system so you don't have to!  All they need is their first/ last name and the code and go to "I'm a New Student."  You can also add them in in about 3 minutes or less--either way, it's simple--no more laminating cards with their username and password-Thank Goodness!!!

App Sign In Page:

Computer Sign In Page:

2. The kiddos take a pre test on the domain(s) you are working on.  We have started with "Numbers in base ten," since that is the most involved standard we have, and will most likely move onto measurement next week.  The test takes no more than 15 minutes.

3. Once the students take the pretest, it generates questions based on his/her level. As students answer questions, they earn coins, which are then used to rank students on the class leader board for the day (top 5--see number 5 for more info on the leaderboard).  "What if they keep missing a question?" you may ask. As students work and miss a question, a short, one minute video pops up MODELING how to solve the problem!  It is amazing!  The kids can also choose to watch the video before they answer the question, instead of waiting until they miss it.  This is honestly how my kids have learned so many new skills in five days!  

How awesome that it has questions like these?!  This dude was so excited to figure out the answer so he could tell me how much the Steelers were winning by!! #badabababaimlovinit

4.  However, a student doesn't always have to watch the video if they miss a problem.  A list of students who have MASTERED that standard will pop up, telling them they can ask any of these students for help with this question.  Wait a minute, now we have students teaching students?! HELLO higher level thinking and HELLOOOOO Mrs. Perchinsky not answering 8,000 different questions at one time!!! Holla!!!!

5.  As stated in number 3, students earn coins for answering questions correctly.  The coins reset each day, which is different than other programs I've used in the past.  However, this is probably the best thing Front Row could have ever done.  I've made five medals attached to different lanyards for the top five leaders of the day (which I think you can only access through a student account, so I made one for me and log on to to check the leaders for the day).  It's like the Olympics at the end of every day when we announce the top five leaders.  I let {student} number 1 come and choose his/ her lanyard first, followed by the second, third, etc.  These students then get to be the "leaders" for the entire next day.  They get to line up first, be first in the lunch line, first to sharpen pencils, first to come to the library, choose inside recess game, first to pack up,  and anything else that requires someone being first {even though my husband says they aren't really "first" because there are five of them... ) #ifyourenotateacheryoudontgetit   

They are SO incredibly motivated to be one of these top five leaders they are on Front Row during their RECESS time!  It truly is so awesome to see... I think if you are going to use it in your classroom, I suggest using the leaderboard as some sort of incentive (having them be "first" costs me no money, and it's nothing to keep up with--I like it).  Front Row will also email you each week with the most improved students, which will be our next medal, who deserve to be recognized just as much as the leaders for the day!  Haven't worked out all the details as to what I'm going to do with the most improved leader, but it will be something special to make them feel all warm and fuzzy inside! :) 

Medals for the Front Row Leaders--didn't put their "place" on it since I let them pick by lanyard and don't feel like changing the medals over every time-KISS: Keep It Simple Sista!
6. Another perk of using Front Row, I am available to meet with students based on standards they need help with, which is GIVEN TO ME via the teacher dashboard under the "groups" tab.  It has the students divided up by standard and their proficiency level.  Wondering what in the world that standard is? No problem!  Click on it to find an explanation of the standard and sample questions to correlate to it.  I told's amazing!  I pull those students from centers to work on the specific standard, and then practice, practice, practice. At the end of the mini lesson I allow them to practice a few problems on Front Row to prove to me they are good to go and can move on from that standard.  They seriously cannot wait for math class everyday-and honestly, neither can I! It has cut down on the amount of time I spend planning math since everything is in one place.  Not to mention you are using ALL data to drive your instruction. :) 

Strands for each individual student--we all LOVE our strands don't we?!

Showing where each child is "grade level" wise

What I use to build math lesson plans for the week--looks like I need to bust out the fourth grade material... :)  #notcomplaining

7.  It has things like a matrix to tell you what grade level each student is working on, a report card with EVERY math standard we are teaching this year {which is identical to our county's report card! How awesome would this be to be able to attach this to their report card for clear cut, black and white data!? I'm still working on our county allowing us to do this instead of our eyes crossing trying to read and write in those tiny boxes...fingers crossed}.  It even has manipulatives for the students to use to solve the problems and it can also read it to them!  It also shows each student's average compared to the class, along with their starting grade, current grade, and grades grown.  As you can see, this little one has grown an entire grade level in 5 days! I'm serious people, stop reading this and go download it now!  Well, maybe finish reading about how awesome it is first :) Almost done I promise!

Tool I use to help build small groups--best.thing.ever!!!

Report Card-generated for each student-broken down by standard and their score

Student Average Compared to Class Average, growth, and accuracy
Did I hear someone say, "Data Documentation????"
Some other great info...
8. Working on standard 2.NBT.2-1, skip counting by 5s within 1000 and want to assign math homework? Great! Pull the drop down menu to choose your standard and with one click, you got it.  However, what if you want to assign homework, but know you have some kids on a first grade level and others on a fourth grade level...hmmmm......what a pickle we're in!  Not if you have Front Row you're not!!! Simply click the blue "Generate Individual Practice" button and PRESTO!  Leveled homework/ test/ classwork for each of your sweeties with their name at the top! I TOLD YOU IT WAS AMAZING!!!

Homework/ Classwork Generator Leveled or by Standard

9. You have the option for parents to sign up so they can access their child's report card, which will be the next step in incorporating this amazing program into our classroom.  I had a kiddo absent the other day, and when we checked the leader board at the end of the day, they were number one on the class leader board.  So glad to see they were using their sick day wisely :)  

10.  This app seriously is amazing and it will change the way you teach {math} for the better!  This is simple differentiation at it's finest and your kids will no longer be wasting their time practicing a skill they already know how to do!  Please click the links below to watch a few short videos on this program and how to use it in your classroom {just incase I may have missed something... :) }.

Here's to Front Row and all the Awesomeness it brings to our young minds-at all levels!


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