Use of FrontRow systems increased numbers of first graders reading at grade level by 50%.
How to Boost Reading Scores by 50%
The West Orange Public School District (West Orange, New Jersey) requires amplification in all classrooms. The technology became mandatory after teachers started using FrontRow during the 2003-2004 school year and the district saw first-grade reading scores jump from 59% to 89% at or above grade level.
“That got everybody’s attention, as you can imagine,” said Karen Tarnoff, the district’s testing coordinator. “There was nothing else over the course of the year that was different than in any other year. The teachers and the curriculum remained the same, and nothing new was added other than the amplification system.”
Teacher Dan Gurney has more energy at the end of each day thanks to his FrontRow classroom sound system.
How Mr. Gurney’s Voice Came Back
When kindergarten teacher Dan Gurney of Dunham Elementary (Petaluma, California) first discovered the FrontRow sound system in 2000, he knew right away it would help him improve students’ literacy skills. Having invented a literacy-building program called Soundabet, he was well aware of the need for students to clearly hear individual phonemes.
What he didn’t anticipate was the positive effect it would have on his voice and energy level. Like many teachers, Dan went hoarse several times a year, and regularly felt worn out by the end of the day. In fact, his doctor told him that being repeatedly hoarse was a matter of concern, just as back pain would be for a construction worker.
Soon after using the FrontRow sound system, Dan was elated at how much energy he had at the end of the day and how his voice improved. “In the same way I switch on the lights so I don’t have to teach in a dark room, I switch on my FrontRow so I can be heard without straining,” he says.
How Ms. Baker Got Her Children to Listen
Principal Joya Baker began using FrontRow sound systems in 2005 in the Banning Unified School District in California. Now, nearly 35 classrooms at all grade levels are equipped.
According to Joya and her teachers, it’s made a huge difference in getting students’ attention. “Now it takes absolutely nothing to get everyone's attention,” she says.“A teacher can say, 'One, two, three — eyes on me,' and everyone looks up because they can hear in every part of the room. It's very easy for the teacher, in a calm manner, to call them back together or get them on task.”
Making teacher training more more effective
With school districts under pressure financially and academically, it's imperative that professional development sessions are effective. Max McGee, President of Illinois Math and Science Academy (Aurora, Illinois) uses the FrontRow ToGo at symposia for principals. While these sessions are notorious for being difficult to hear, leading to distractions and disengagement, McGee found that using the sound system made presentations clear, and the handheld microphone ensured that contributions by the group could be heard as well. “Usually, I am completely exhausted after these workshops," he says, "but I have to say being able to speak in a normal voice enabled me to keep my energy and endurance throughout the entire afternoon. The participants wrote in their evaluations about how I was ‘on’ for the full time and thus kept them more engaged.”
Additionally, McGee notes that “after the first five minutes, [using the system] became second nature.”
"Now every sound component of my learning environment can be heard clearly throughout my room."
My FrontRow system is a basic necessity
Favorite FrontRow Feature: There are so many wonderful features, but the one that I rely on the most to save my strength and voice is the teacher microphone. It is lightweight, easy to use and the sound is so clear. I no longer have to ‘project’, FrontRow does it for me.
Favorite FrontRow Application with Other Technology: FrontRow connects to my laptop for use with my interactive whiteboard system.
Bio: Teaching is my second career. I was a graphic designer for many years until I got involved in my children’s school and rediscovered my first love, working with children in a learning environment. I started teaching in a fourth grade classroom and moved down to first grade just four years ago. I teach in a small, rural community about 30 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Northern California where the hills are rolling green though the winter and golden all summer. Although the school is in a rural area it does not mean that my resources are limited. Technology has been crucial to improving my classroom learning environment. I consider my FrontRow system a basic necessity for both the students and for me.
I was first introduced to voice amplification systems eight years ago when the school district I began my teaching career in had every classroom fitted with a surround sound system. Back then the headset was cumbersome and intrusive. I was definitely aware of it but the benefits outweighed the challenges. When I moved school districts the strain on my voice from no longer having amplification became a serious concern. I regularly suffered from laryngitis and voice strain. I would have to ‘rest’ my voice in the evenings and I struggled with increased fatigue overall. For the past three years I have had a FrontRow system and it is light years ahead of the original system I taught with my first year. The teacher microphone is easy to wear, lightweight, and the OptiVoice technology really clarifies what I am saying by blocking out background noise and optimizing the subtle sounds of spoken language. This benefits all of my students, but it has been vital for my English Language Learners and students who have partial hearing loss. I use the student microphone daily for student presentations, read aloud activities, and when students lead the class through daily routines. Not only do they love to use it but it makes even the quietest student able to be heard and understood. I have my DVD player, MP3 player, interactive whiteboard and laptop connected to my FrontRow system as well. I can adjust the volume on each to coordinate with my microphone volume. Now every sound component of my learning environment can be heard clearly throughout my room.
— Wendy Funk, First Grade Teacher
Penngrove Elementary, Penngrove, California
Less vocal fatigue and more attention from the back row.
FrontRow keeps the attention of the back row
Favorite FrontRow Feature: Less vocal fatigue
Favorite FrontRow Application with Other Technology: My favorite application is with PowerPoint Lecture notes. I have long used imbedded music as a signal and timing device, so students know when we are writing and when we are listening to the teacher. I also include short video clips in the presentations when appropriate. This I control with my iPad from around the room. The FrontRow system is such a good fit with system keeping the sound even while I move around.
Bio: I have taught 6th grade through 12th grade science, and I am currently enjoying teaching 9th graders Earth science. I have been teaching for 15 years, the first 5 in Northern California and the last 10 years in Southern California. I am also the Science Chair at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga and lead the site technology committee here. I am currently using two FrontRow ToGo systems in my classroom ( I purchased one on my own and have use of the Library's when it is not checked out). I just had one last year, but our superintendent and admin borrowed it enough that I had to have my own (once you have one...).
My favorite FrontRow feature is that now I do not go home with a sore throat after a day of lecture. I do not have a quiet voice, so no one would suspect that I would need a sound system, but after 4 hours of talking, my voice was shot. With the ToGo system I can talk in a normal (sometimes quieter than normal) voice and still have the attention of the back row and various squirmers around the room. Which brings us to my second favorite feature is that the back row, which can be a problem area in the class, is much calmer when I am using the sound system. I even have a few special ed students who do better in back, next to the sound system than in front where there can be more student interactions.
I have used the ToGos with the wired sound system I have on my media cart while showing videos to my class (instant surround sound), but my favorite application is with PowerPoint Lecture notes. I have long used imbedded music as a signal and timing device, so students know when we are writing and when we are listening to the teacher. I also include short video clips in the presentations when appropriate. This I control with my iPad and a program called Doceri from around the room which allows me to monitor students on the fly. The FrontRow system is such a good fit with system keeping the sound even while I move around.
About introducing FrontRow: I started the year with the One ToGo system and never mentioned it to my students. The first day I just had my Madonna microphone on and started speaking, about a month in to the year when I added the second ToGo system I set it up and just started using it with the class. Most of the time I like to normalize the technology in my room, keep it from being a distraction from the message. Thats not to say I don't love the "boom its there" quality you get with some new technology. The first time I bust out the student microphone always gets a reaction, but that could just be my singing voice. I have one class this year with a couple of students who love to get the mic and do short raps at the end of class when there is time. The biggest student reaction to the FrontRow system is how calm my back rows are during lectures.
—Glenn Benham, Earth Science Teacher
Los Osos High School, Los Osos, California
ToGo travels from auditorium to auditorium in our local high schools
Reaching thousands of students with FrontRow
Favorite FrontRow Feature: The simplicity of using multiple systems together.
Bio: I won a Frontrow system at the Georgia Technology conference years ago. When I was moved to a new position in our school system, I was challenged to reach as many kids as possible with science instruction. Doing this would require me to travel from auditorium to auditorium in our local high schools. I purchased 3 additional systems and I have used FrontRow to reach over 6,000 students this fall alone. I plan on using it to reach over 7,000 students this spring. Next year I plan on reaching over 18,000 students using FrontRow speaker systems. They are great to have around and are used for many instructional endeavors where I work. Thanks for making such a great, easy to use product that makes my life easier.
—Nathaniel Haeck, Science Teacher
DeKalb County Schools, Atlanta, Georgia
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery used funds to purchase a FrontRow ToGo as part of their accessibility initiative
Everyone Should Feel Welcome in the Gallery
Based in New Plymouth, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery is regarded as one of New Zealand’s most courageous contemporary art galleries. Director Simon Rees used money from the Big ‘A’ Creative New Zealand Arts For All Award to invest in a FrontRow ToGo system to amplify events. "Accessibility to us means that everyone should feel welcome in the gallery," says Rees. "I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the concept of manaakitanga – treating everyone with respect, no matter who they are. Ensuring the gallery is as accessible as possible has benefits for everyone, whether it’s a mum with a baby in a pushchair or someone with a hearing impairment."