One of the things I enjoy most about working at FrontRow is getting the chance to visit schools all over the country and witness first-hand how our technology impacts students' and teachers' lives. It's fun to descend upon a new place and ask lots of questions to get a full picture of why and how our solutions work for them. Recently I had the chance to do that in Pennsylvania and, besides just about melting from being greeted by a sea of adorable first-graders, I witnessed teachers working with passion and dedication; they were generous in allowing us to video their classes and to interview them.
Here's a brief and inspiring video on how this school is leveraging classroom audio technology, including teacher mics and student mics, to maximize outcomes.
As part of a broader commitment to student success, Kernsville Elementary teachers have been using FrontRow's advanced audio technology in classrooms to maximize student comprehension and achievement since last year. The technology clarifies teacher and student voices as well as media audio, which studies prove to dramatically increase academic performance.
As I've shared before, across schools globally, 25 percent of what the teacher says in class never reaches students’ brains. In the back of the classroom or away from the instructor and presenters, the amount of missing information approaches 40 percent; Kernsville Elementary’s adoption of FrontRow classroom audio to overcome this learning barrier is an indicator of its commitment to excellence. Among a multitude of benefits, the teacher and student microphones have shown a positive impact on students’ reading and comprehension.
I met first grade teacher Traci Falco and she shared that her students' phonic skills have definitely improved. "When I use the microphone, they can hear those individual sounds. They're able to stretch out words a little more easily. They're able to spell words more easily. And they're able to read more fluently because they're clearly hearing all the sounds in their heads as they use the audio system.”
Phonemic awareness — the ability to distinguish individual speech sounds — is a basic requirement for developing young skillful readers. It’s hard to be aware of phonemes if you’re not consistently and clearly hearing them. Because FrontRow sound systems increase speech clarity and phonemic awareness, they significantly enhance Kernsville Elementary’s effectiveness of reading and spelling instruction.
And one repetitive theme--no matter how many schools I visit--is the boost in confidence students get when using the student handheld microphone, which translates into developing better young readers. Kernsville teacher Allison Davis told me that she loves watching the struggling readers build more confidence in themselves and that they volunteer a lot more because they feel like using the microphone makes them extra special; they get excited to do that. She enthusiastically shared that a lot more hands go up in the air once she hands out the microphone, so they really love using it.
And classroom audio also addresses a costly reality that plagues schools nationwide: a high number of teacher sick days due to vocal disorders and voice attrition.
In the US, $2.5 billion dollars are spent annually on sick leave for teachers with vocal problems and those teacher absences can create learning snags for students, as lessons lose cohesiveness; having a classroom audio system substantially curtails this number.
“When I didn't have my audio system, I would go home at night and my voice would be absolutely exhausted,” shared Ms. Falco. “With a group of first graders, it's hard to be talking all day long and not go home without a raspy voice. Now with FrontRow’s Juno system, I find that I don't have to project my voice quite as loudly and it's really saving on my vocal cords.”
Kernsville Elementary’s Principal Michael Gehringer pointed out the dramatic changes in school performance and how time and energy can be best distributed once the need for classroom audio is addressed. He shared: “We use SWPBS, which is school-wide positive behavior. With classroom audio in all learning spaces, we're able to really focus on those positives and there are a lot less negatives—because we're not stopping due to children not hearing what's going on. A teacher can act and speak in their normal tone and everyone is getting the same instruction or the same directions."
When I asked Principal Gehringer why he would encourage other principals and districts to adopt this education technology, he was fast to echo his teachers’ findings and was keen on citing the increase in teacher and student engagement across the school. “It is going to get your students and your teachers actively engaged in the learning process, not only within the curriculum, but in the classroom, which is the most important thing.”
So, there you have it, one school visit, tons of inspiration!