My name is Wendy Hall, I work in an Inner-City school with a high ELL (English Language Learners) population, which creates several communication barriers with parents. Student needs include behaviour support, learning support, ELL support, and challenge material. Parents are just as busy as others and do not have the opportunity to be in the school as often as they like.
Parents are busy people and not always available when you need them to share learning successes or learning difficulties, especially as they are happening. There are many one and two parent working families with either their child in daycare or in care with a family member. The parents are unavailable during school time to conference with, without them having to schedule time off work. As well, for some parents or their family members, they may not speak or understand English well. This makes communicating student learning very difficult with the majority of the families for me.
FreshGrade makes it easy and quick to capture student learning and share it with their families. It is as simple as taking a picture and uploading it to a student profile. If I choose, I can attach teacher notes on what the student is doing well in and areas the student needs support in. I can assess it and then email it to the parents. This allows the parents to see their child’s work in almost a real time experience. It enables parents to have a conversation about their child’s work almost immediately after it was completed. I also use it as a tool for parents to have an insight to their child’s day at school. It helps parents with the question ‘what did you do at school today?’ which a lot of children respond with ‘I don’t know, nothing.’
Since I have started sending home weekly emails to the families, I have received many positive comments about this communication. Parents love seeing their child’s work without having to make an appointment with the teacher. As well, it helps parents to know what it actually looks like while I am describing areas of improvements. The students show excitement in having this new option to share their work. The students will come in the morning after I have sent an email and say ‘I got to read my journal with my mom or dad last night.’ The students will ask me if I am going to take a picture and send the emails because they want their parents to see their hard work. I have also noticed an increase in the willingness for some students to produce their work because now their mom or dad is going to see it. The purpose has changed. Parents also like the ability to see the progress their child has made on a weekly basis.
Fresh Grade has allowed me to engage and communicate with parents almost as instantly as learning is happening in the classroom. This ongoing feedback gives the opportunity for a parent of a struggling child to provide support in a timely manner, rather than waiting for each term to end. This has connected me better to the families and allowed me to communicate student progress in a highly convenient way eliminating surprises.