I will admit, at first the product had many glitches and was far more work then any other way I was collecting and sharing student learning. In addition my systems were working well for me and my students shared their work on their blogs. If you have ever visited my students blogs you'll know that they are very visible with their learning But, is it enough?
Fresh Grade is a tool that helps my students and I do more by collecting artifacts, adding assessment information, and sharing all that information with their families on an on going basis. Let me explain.
I use Fresh Grade to collect assessment information on class big ideas. I create activities and collect artifacts that support the learning intentions of the activities. My activities are broad in nature though and focus on big ideas. For example a big idea might be "reading", "writing", "playing with patterns", "playing with force and motion", "playing with states of matter" etc. They are part of my government issued curriculum. I stay broad on purpose because my students learn, show, and share their knowledge in individual ways. We don't have assignments with due dates, we have on going learning. I stay focussed on big ideas so I have a place to capture, store, and organize their various learning snapshots.
|These are some of the "big ideas" I am collecting information on. They are based on my prescribed learning outcomes.|
For example when I have a writing conference with a student I can take a photo of their writing, and I can make the conference notes right into Fresh Grade. If we talk about what they are proud of, or what they want to work on I can record that information. If we set a goal I can record that too. I can record the student reading their writing, or talking about their writing. Fresh Grade makes it easy for me to add this assessment information to their private portfolio.
Collecting snapshots of learning, and adding assessment information to these snapshots is only one part of why I like Fresh Grade. As soon as I add a photo (or video, or voice recording or assessment note) to a child's portfolio I have the choice to share it with the student's parents immediately via email. By the time one of my students gets home from school their parents may already know what we talked about in our writing conference and how they can help at home.
|This is a snapshot of learning. You will note that a parent has read and responded to this information.|
Now I don't email home everything I add to the portfolio but I have invited my students' parents in to see their child's portfolio when ever they want. If at any time they want to know how their child is doing, they just have to peek in and see. There are work samples with assessment data together.
One thing to remember though is that how I use Fresh Grade is very different than how others use Fresh Grade. Older students are able to have more involvement with their portfolios and can add their own reflection and assessment information. Assignments can be more specific, marks can be collected, data can be organized. You can curate resources in Fresh Grade. That's one of the things I like about Fresh Grade. There is no one right way to use it. Different teachers have different needs and Fresh Grade allows you to personalize how you use the product.
But is it perfect? Of course not and what's great about Fresh Grade is that they are listening to feedback. I have watched them grow over the past two and a half years and I can assure you, they are listening.
If you're looking for a way to make your students' learning visible I highly recommend you check out Fresh Grade. If we're lucky the portfolios being created in Fresh Grade will one day replace the archaic report cards that have changed so little over the past fifty years.
How are you making learning visible for your students and their families?