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How to Put Every Student in the Front Row

U-2 Rogers Center
7.11.11

When purchasing tickets to a concert or sporting event, I purchase seats near the action, or at least with an unobstructed view. I prefer to sit in the first row of a section if I am unable to sit near the stage. I want to be close to the action, fully engaged, and if possible, actively participating in the performance. When taking grad classes that are less than stimulating, I will sit in the front row. Once again, to force focus and engagement - and to keep from dozing off. We have all heard of research suggesting that those students who sit closer to the front of the room (the traditional location of the instructor) will have a greater likelihood of higher academic achievement than those who sit towards the back. Knowing personal preference, and knowing what the proximity research suggests prompted the question - "How can we put every student in a front row seat to learning?"







My answers aren't universal, nor scientific at this point. They are merely suggestions based upon conversations I had with some of my PLN buddies at ICE 2013, last week.

Students as Contributors, Digital Learning FarmsAlan November






  • We do not have rows of furniture at home. Our dining room table is oval shaped. Family members face each other to promote engaging conversation. The Principal's conference room does not contain rows of chairs. Design your classroom for maximum engagement. Teachers, use your own movement and proximity to put all of your students, at various times, in the front row of the learning show.
  • Rethink the concept of classroom altogether. Are there other environments and situations that stimulate engagement and learning. Commons areas, libraries, meeting rooms provide a change of scenery that combats classroom boredom. Does flipped or blended instruction offer all of your  students front row seats to the learning show?
  • Connecting with your PLN (personal learning network) is an engaging way to learn. My iPad (1:1 classroom) provides me with 24-7 learning opportunities with experts from around the world. The web connected device gives me an anytime / anywhere front row seat to the learning show. Ask your students to create and build their own PLNs - this will unleash the true power of 1:1 - 24/7/365 connected learning opportunities.
  • Personal interests immediately puts my learning in the front row. Learners of all ages will relentlessly seek solutions to problems that involve their personal interests and passions. Students will readily engage in authentic learning, or problem-solving, activities when they feel that they are making an impact. Allow authentic audiences to have a front row seat to their learning.
"What suggestions do you have for putting students in the front row?"


To summarize, you can put your students in a front row seat to learning by eliminating restrictive learning environments, connecting them to a world of possibilities, allowing them to personalize their learning, and providing them with meaningful, authentic learning situations. The front row is exciting, engaging, interactive, and fun. Dim the house lights - it's time to rock!


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