FreshGrade: Digital Portfolios in 2015

Have you heard about FreshGrade?  Have you heard about digital portfolios?  This post is a guest post by my friends and colleagues, Michelle Hiebert and Tracy Cramer.  I am encouraged by these amazing educators digitally and in reality with their professionalism and their charisma for teaching the youngest children in our elementary schools.  So grab a seat and listen to what they have to say about these wonderful digital portfolios through the FreshGrade platform that allow students to capture, document and communicate learning between.

freshgrade

Michelle’s Insights

Name: Michelle Hiebert

Grade: Kindergarten

School: Prince Charles Elementary School in Abbotsford, B.C., Canada

A little bit about yourself: I am Shawn’s wife (25 years), David (18) and Matthew (16)’s mom and I love traveling, I’m a foodie and a Vancouver Canucks fan.

How long have you been implementing Fresh Grade? One Year

And why did you choose to pick Fresh Grade? That would best be described in my blog post here: https://mauimickey.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/my-learning-journey-with-freshgrade/

What is Fresh Grade?

FreshGrade is an online, app-based system of creating an electronic portfolio for students.  It is easy to use for teachers and it is easy to access for parents. Using photos, text, audio and video, teachers are able to make the students’ learning visible to their parents and can communicate more effectively about how and what the students are learning. Parents are able to give feedback to the student and teacher, and students are able to upload their own documentation and provide feedback as well. All stakeholders in a child’s learning are able to be involved in a meaningful way.

What is the difference between a physical portfolio and Fresh Grade?  Why would someone choose Fresh Grade over the physical portfolio?  

A physical portfolio is good, but a parent would have to be physically able to be at the school in order to view it. Through FreshGrade, parents have their child’s evidence of learning easily accessible on their computer or mobile device.

What have parents said about Fresh Grade?

I surveyed all of my parents last year and every single one of them loved FreshGrade. They find it much simpler to understand than a traditional report card, not to mention the regularity with which they have information about how and what their child is learning. None of my parents want to go back to a “three times a year” report card system.

Does the transparency of assessment and the classroom make you nervous?  Kind of like the fish in the glass bowl idea. If so, why?  If not, why not?

Absolutely not! If you are using assessment techniques that are good and sound, then why not share the information you have with the parents? Certainly that helps the parents understand the lens through which you are evaluating their child’s work. It provides talking points that will help you all support their child in their learning. It’s a win-win situation in my opinion.

What questions have you received from parents about Fresh Grade?

None. FreshGrade is so easy to access that no questions of consequence about the program have been asked. Oh wait…I had one parent who lost their login information and needed it resent. That was easily fixed within minutes of their request.

What do you want to say to a teacher who is thinking of using Fresh Grade for the first time?  

Try it! FreshGrade is extremely user-friendly. If you can take a photo, press record and stop, and type, you can use FreshGrade.

Tracy’s Insights

Name: Tracy Cramer

Grade: Kindergarten

School: James Kennedy Elementary School, British Columbia, Canada

How long have you been implementing Fresh Grade? One full year working on my 2nd

Why does it work for educators?

I wanted parents to see what their child was doing on a daily basis in our classroom. I wanted to open our class to the world in a safe environment. I use FreshGrade to give students a voice and a choice, I use it to document their learning and growth with evidence in the form of pictures or videos. I also use FG to communicate back and forth with the students families. FG allows me as a teacher to absolutely differentiate instruction for my littles and I can send quick messages home to parents that they automatically can see on their phone. The parents can then send messages back to either myself of the students directly. I teach little humans and the best thing that parents said was it avoided the dreaded “what did you do at school today?” which is often responded to with “nothing” parents could see what the students have done and it was a clear conversation starter for many of them.

Why does it work for students?

My goal as a classroom teacher of little people was to provide parents (and students) quicker access to their child’s learning and developments.  Rather than wait for a parent teacher interview or a report card, I felt that families should have the opportunity to see and celebrate their child’s learning on a more regular basis.  FreshGrade allowed the students and I to share their learning immediately with parents, opening opportunities to celebrate successes and areas needing further attention.

Name two benefits that you would say help the teacher-parent

  1. Not once last year, when I sat down with a parent did they ever say…”how is my child doing” we were able to sit down right away and discuss how to help their child as they were already aware of how their child was doing.
  2. While I had a spicy class last year, it was hands down without a word of a lie THE BEST I have had in terms of relationships with my parents. I was able to build those relationships quickly with the help of FG and the struggle over learning at school and what the child does at home was not present as parents could immediately see how their little was doing.

What questions have you received from educators about Fresh Grade?

  • Why should I even create an eportfolio…we already have a system in place and it has been in place for a long time.
  • How do we as teachers assess an e-portfolio?
  • FOIPA and where does FreshGrade fall into this?
  • How hard is it? I don’t have time to learn anything new so it has to be simple.
  • How do I sign up?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Can I start using it right away?
  • What if my admin doesn’t support me using e-portfolios and I really want to?
  • But mostly now, I get…can I come and see it in action and can you help me get started 🙂

If you had to change one thing about Fresh Grade what would it be and why?

To enable the student to own the portfolio and take it with them past grade 12

Here is a video to learn more!


Hopefully through this post you gained insight into this wonderful world of FreshGrade.  Interested in learning more, you can contact me through the contact page, and I will connect you with them.  Have a wonderful September!

 

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Why Blog?

Hi! My name is Victoria Woelders from Vancouver, Canada. I blog about technology, teaching and life as a Mom. This blog is a journey of my passions, inspirations and moonshot thinking.

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