We recently had a chance to sit down with Gaila, a Grade 9 and Grade 10 teacher, and Jo, an Associate Principal from the Hillsboro Independent School District, Texas. They spoke with us about how FreshGrade makes a positive contribution to students’ learning.
Most districts in Texas are still paper-oriented in their approach to capturing learning. But Gaila and Jo noticed that most students didn’t take worksheets home. Whenever the teachers returned graded assignments to their students, those papers ended up in recycle bins. FreshGrade’s digital platform has a great ease of use for both teachers and students. It allows students to access and upload portfolio artifacts at home through mobile devices. Teachers can see where students are in their learning and leave a comment even if they were not physically in the classroom.
The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) assesses goal-setting, professional development plan, and teaching effectiveness. Gaila uses FreshGrade to capture student learning and adds her evaluator to her portfolio as a collaborator to show how her planning, instructions, and teaching practices meet the T-TESS guidelines.
FreshGrade provides opportunities for Gaila and Jo to incorporate open-ended reflection. Students are encouraged to reflect on how they are doing, what they have learned, and consider their next move for every project and activity. Gaila and Jo are proud to see students are taking ownership of their learning and express how they want to do things. More importantly, the tremendous growth students have achieved is impressive. When Gaila provided opportunities for open-ended reflection using FreshGrade in a new class, she saw an increase in scores by approximately 30% in just six weeks.
Gaila and Jo are big fans of the video feature. They love assigning short video tasks where students need to brainstorm a real-life example instead of writing a one-page essay. “It’s way cooler, and students are learning a lot from it,” says Gaila. Students can be creative, using different filters in their favorite apps to express themselves and upload videos to FreshGrade. Personalization helps them feel safe to share their stories and opinions. This helps Gaila and Jo better understand their students and tailor teaching practices to specific individuals. Students like FreshGrade too. “It’s not difficult and it’s very easy, everything is right there for them. They like that they can go back and see all of their work; nothing is ever lost,” says Gaila.
FreshGrade can translate student portfolios for parents whose first language isn’t English. The language barrier is no longer an issue for parent-teacher communication. Gaila demonstrates this feature at her parent-teacher conferences to show Spanish speaking parents how they can view and engage in their child’s learning.
One thing that caught our attention was that parents were viewing but not commenting on student portfolios. Here are two points to keep in mind: