Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The One Where We Switch to Front Row

Front Row Math

My 4th graders have been using the newly revamped Khan Academy website on our iPads since Mid-November. Things have been going great and I have seen a fantastic, better than average, increase in MAP Math scores from August to January.

I read a Tweet recently that mentioned an App called Front Row (or Front Row Ed Math). It is very similar to Khan in many ways but has some thing unique to it that I really like. Both Khan and Front Row are FREE and both give teachers access to "More Data About Their Students Than They Could Ever Use."

I have already written in length about the Khan Academy and it very positive effects in our classroom. Test scores have improved for all of my student (some dramatically). We are now using Front Row as a "Change of Pace" from Khan. Here are some of the "Data" highlights... To the left there are clickable areas like "Insights" (my favorite), Groups, Matrix, Common Core Standards, Class Roster, Report Card, and Printables (My 2nd Favorite). Clicking on the "Insights" tab brings up the screen below. Clicking on the arrows on the right will drop down each section revealing your students "Most ahead" and "Most behind" as well as who is improving the most and the least. The last section reads "What's the Most Important Standard I need to teach next? 

Clicking on that will bring up this screen and you can see what standards students are missing the most.

Clicking on the standard itself will show you examples of the types of questions they are missing.

My other favorite feature is the printables section.....

I've only used the "Individualized Practice". If you click on GENERATE PDF it will generate an individualized worksheet for EACH STUDENT based on their appropriate level of success in that area. Don't worry, it also generates a mini answer key for each child's worksheet. Pretty Slick! 

I don't know if Front Row Ed will ever replace Khan in my class, but ALL students like it right now as a great change of pace!

What do you think? Have you used Khan Academy? Do you use Front Row? If you have tried both, which do you prefer?

The One Where I Storybird on iPads!

I recently discovered that a website I used with my class several years ago has, at some point, rewritten their code to be compatible on iPads! This has been great news for my 1:1 iPad students! Storybird is a site where students write stories and collaborate with artists from around the world. Here is how it works...

As a teacher, I created a free account and was given a passcode for my students to sign up (no eMail needed). The passcode attached each student to my account and allows me access to their stories if needed.

When a student clicks on the CREATE button, they see a screen similar to this one. Each picture is from a different artist and they can scroll through hundreds of artists who have donated their artwork to be used on the site, royalty-free. So, from the pictures below - say a student really likes the "Haunted House" picture. They select it and then....

This screen will come up. On this screen, students get to see ALL of the artwork by this one artist. From here, they select the portfolio of art they want to use for their story. In this case, I selected the Haunted House portfolio but I could choose any thumbnail at the bottom to select a different portfolio of art from this person.

Next, students see their "Desktop" which has their empty Storybird in front of them and all of artwork tossed about on the left and right of there book. Controls are at the bottom for navigation and adding pages. Pictures are switched out simply by drag and drop. 

Hit the Plus sign in the bottom right to add pages. One simple font is used for all Storybirds. 

Another page is added.

This student clicked SAVE in the bottom left corner. As a teacher, this screen shows me my students and their Storybirds. I can share, favorite, comment on, or delete their Storybirds.

When I click on one of their Storybirds, it will enlarge on the screen along with this control panel that allows me to to see some basic data about their 'Bird as well as assign it a grade (viewed only by the student) and notes about their story.

One of the more intriguing features of Storybird is that their books can be purchased as a PDF, a softcover book, a hardcover, or a premium format book. Costs vary depending on how many pages are used. The site also offers fundraising for classrooms or schools. 

Storybird has been a great experience for all of my students. It helps both their writing AND reading skills. We have integrated it into our writing curriculum. I also have several highly motivated students that have been creating their own Storybirds at home.

We have all used it on our iPads using both Safari and Chrome as browsers to access the site www.Storybird.com

Please contact me if you have any questions or need help getting started