Inquiry based learning for the digital classroom.
I teach at a 1:1 school. All my students have iPads, and we use Google Classroom. I’m becoming capable with design and extensions. That’s how I would summarize my first year in a 1:1 classroom – capable and comfortable.
I always hunt for more – better ideas for my students and helpful (time saving) tools for me. I want my role to be more of a facilitator than a fact-spewing-adult.
The creators of Frontier* offered to give me a behind-the-scenes tour of their program. Frontier is the latest platform from eSpark Learning, a company that’s received recognition from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, NewSchools Venture Fund, and Digital Promise. Frontier was recently selected for Google’s Digital Media Literacy Program and is being used in 3-8 Grade classrooms nationwide.
After experimenting with Frontier, I have three big reasons why I’m excited to use Frontier this school year.
Created lesson plans.
To find engaging content, check that it is clean, create higher-order thinking questions, differentiate and align it all to standards – well, that could take my entire Sunday. I want that content for my students, though.
I need help to accomplish all of that. For instance, while digitally implementing nonfiction with my freshmen this previous year, I realized that only a portion of my activities were designed digitally. My students were using a digital aspect, but they weren’t responding and creating digitally. I didn’t have time to create the lesson plan and the digital interaction. I still want some aspect ofcontrol though.
Lessons – complete with viewing and reading materials, critical thinking questions, sample answers, and a note taking sheet – are prepared. As a teacher, you choose what to assign and when.
With Frontier, they provide the lesson and maintain its relevancy. Also, as I ran through a sample lesson, I had questions about the lesson’s objective, but Frontier had the right system: teachers can modify the objective and align a different standard. (We all have our own style, right?)
In high school, I must discreetly differentiate. Students know exactly why some students receive certain assignments. One part of technology that I’m loving is that each student can see an individual assignment without my shuffling through papers or consulting a list. I can assign the best level of reading materials and questions before students enter the room.
A goal of differentiation is to challenge students at their level. Frontier has labeled reading levels, and my students will read at their capability – and understand the content. I always can move them to a more difficult level.
Frontier provides modern and age-appropriate learning sets. I don’t know current trends with teenagers, even though I try to stay abreast of their interests. (Specific note: teenagers do not use the word “abreast”). Students would like relevant materials, and I want to provide it.
On the student side, each activity includes reading materials, videos, check points for understanding, and deeper thinking questions.
On the teacher side, I can design the specifics of what I want students to complete. I can remove content and if I have my own idea to add, Frontier gives teachers that ability too. If my students’ inquiry leads the class down a new path, Frontier provides plenty of relevant material for more discussions.
Finally, I can provide student choice: watch one video and read two articles, then choose the best two sources for inclusion in your final writing assignment. This will be perfect for days I have a substitute: I can send out the assignment from home, making adjustments because I won’t be there.
I struggle to find various activities and then update them yearly, along with making them digitally friendly in the form of inquiry based learning. All of that is a tall order for one classroom teacher. Frontier updates and builds its catalogue to keep the material relevant and timely. Frontier currently has enough lessons to support a year-long curriculum for reading informational text.
I think that the argumentative and informational sections need more pieces, but Frontier promises that once the school year starts, the Learning Design team will be adding new lessons each week.
Today’s technology offers opportunities to differentiate and engage students, and Frontier is an exciting addition to my 1:1 classroom. Balancing all teaching requirements and the goals I have as a teacher will be easier with the Frontier platform.
*This is a sponsored post. In exchange for an honest review, Frontier is providing me with a classroom subscription. All opinions in this post are my own. Please consult my disclosures page for more details.