Achieving Better Communication and Collaboration in Class and at Home
Technological innovation, as applied to the creation of lucrative new business models and even the birth of entire industries, has delivered countless products and services that continue to solve consumer challenges. But when you examine the realm of education, it becomes clear that the fast-paced world of technology has crashed headlong into an institution rooted in traditionalism and resistant to change.
Consider this: a few taps on my phone can order up an Uber and show me the exact block my soon-to-be driver is on. If I ask my Amazon Echo, “Where’s my stuff,” the friendly robotic voice will tell me where my packages are en route to my house. I know how many calories my dog burned yesterday thanks to a Fitbit-like device hooked to his collar.
Technology has given us an amazing degree of omniscience. That is, except for in our classrooms, where many parents have virtually no line of sight into what lessons and activities their child is engaged in — let alone what skills and subjects he or she may be struggling to master. Despite the growing body of research pointing to the critical need for parents to be involved in their child’s learning process, many teachers are struggling to narrow the gap separating parents from the classroom.
This is the challenge FreshGrade is cracking in classrooms worldwide. An online platform that media outlets like the Wall Street Journal have called the “Facebook for Classrooms,” FreshGrade is making classroom learning as visible to parents as everything else in their lives. Except, unlike Facebook, FreshGrade goes beyond a simple newsfeed of student learning activities and achievements by inviting parents to become an active participant in their child’s learning journey.
An Introduction to FreshGrade
FreshGrade gives parents a window into the classroom—a powerful strategy to ignite parental involvement—by connecting them in real time through the use of digital portfolios and assessment tools.
Using its suite of apps, teachers and students can capture, document and communicate examples of student learning —including videos, pictures, audio recordings, links, documents and notes—and upload them to an online portfolio where they can be accessed by parents, students and other teachers. Teachers can also map learning objectives to assessments and activities to ensure lessons are focused and early intervention strategies can be created for struggling students.
With FreshGrade, parents are armed with a secure channel to view, comment on and upload content to the student portfolio at any time during the day. They also receive push notifications when the portfolio has been updated. This consistent access to new information that details a child’s progress has generated more than one million FreshGrade users across 70 countries and in all 50 U.S. states.
How FreshGrade Brings Change to the Classroom
Teachers worldwide, including long-time educator Sarah Rich, have experienced how FreshGrade instills a new level of change in the classroom. When Rich embraced the application in 2014, she hoped it would solve a disconnect she was experiencing with parents. But incorporating FreshGrade became transformative to her classroom, as it has allowed for greater transparency regarding academic success and a more collaborative classroom.
FreshGrade has also made a significant difference with Rich’s students of all socio-economic levels. For example, some parents valued the consistent input and communication from educators – outside of a few parent-teacher conferences or quarterly report cards. In addition, other parents enjoyed feeling reassured that their children were being challenged in the classroom by having all assignments and artifacts in one secure location.
Rich received a Golden Apple award for her use of FreshGrade, as it connected her classroom to home and enables parents to feel a part of a child’s learning. By encouraging colleagues at Paul Cuffee School to also implement FreshGrade, the school was also recognized by the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) with a Digital Early Learning Award.
Wendy Haley is a Special Education Consultant for Self-Design, a distance/distributed learning schools and personalized learning programs in British Columbia, Canada. Haley notes,“FreshGrade is a cutting edge education tool, because at its core, it acknowledges and supports that all children learn differently. It provides a platform for teachers to assess students based on their unique strengths, and provide support for their specific needs.”
Five Benefits of FreshGrade
The benefits instilled by FreshGrade have been substantial for Rich and thousands of other teachers, as the solution fosters communication for the well-being of students and has transformed classrooms around the globe. From an increase to student motivation and parent engagement to providing new opportunities for assessment, FreshGrade continues to alter the landscape of education by addressing challenges teachers face in classrooms today.
1. Personalizes Learning
The personalization benefit of FreshGrade allows educators and parents to support individualized goals. By creating a Gradebook activity and including a variety of resources, teachers can provide learning objectives that best supports their learning styles. In addition, when students have exceeded expectations, teachers can create advanced activities to support and challenge that’s student’s learning, while those who struggle can receive additional help.
2. Provides Immediate Feedback
The American Educational Research Foundation found that educators double their effectiveness when they focus on formative assessment and providing real-time feedback to students along their learning journeys. FreshGrade’s digital portfolios allow teachers to showcase a child’s progress year-round, which enables students to get evidential support before grades are finalized. Even for high-performing students, FreshGrade is a great tool to assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses coming into a new semester or school year.
3. Increases Parent Engagement
In a recent study, 62 percent of parents said that being updated daily on their child’s homework assignments, projects and upcoming tests is an important feature that they can use to help their children succeed in school. Although this is a continuous challenge many teachers are fighting to overcome, utilizing FreshGrade allows teachers to provide parents with continuous insight into the classroom.
4. Improves Student Empowerment & Motivation
A study by Civic Enterprises with Peter D. Hart Research Associates found that nearly 70 percent of participants reported a student’s lack of interest as a problem in schools. Now with FreshGrade, educators like Rich are finding students are able to take pride in their work by choosing which artifacts to post and then reflect on their learning experiences. In fact, Rich noticed one student often requested for particular artifacts to be uploaded, so parents would see it and be proud to share in the learning journey.
5. Provides Opportunities to Ditch Archaic Report Cards
A real-time feedback system allows teachers to help parents provide better support for own children, as it visually communicates what children are learning and why. Showcasing the criteria behind the digital portfolio moves parents to a deeper understanding of why their children are completing certain tasks. This can be an effective alternative to simply reporting a letter grade at predetermined times during the academic year.
How to Access FreshGrade
FreshGrade is free for teachers, students, and parents. A premium version of FreshGrade with custom integrations provides schools and districts with a view of the collective progress and engagement of their users in real-time. FreshGrade’s suite of apps for teachers, students, and parents are available on iOS, Android, Chromebook and any modern browser.