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In EdSurge Case Studies, educators share their real-life experiences with edtech in their schools and classrooms.
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Stephanie, @st0bin
Grade 4 Teacher, SD23, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
Bring your own devices (BYOD)

Traditional report cards no longer match the new direction schools are taking to prepare our children for a 21rst Century world.

Product Use: Last year, I used FG instead of report cards. It is a perfect way to connect parents to your classroom. We were able to communicate in real time about their child's learning instead after the fact when we have moved on to something else. Students took pride seeing their work published and reading feedback that both their parents and I left for them. The multimedia features like recording audio and video hugely benefited my French Immersion classroom as students could hear themselves reading and presenting.

What Worked and What Didn't: E-portfolios are the future. Report cards and letter grades are no longer enough.

Age Group: Elementary school students

Aug 31, 2016 Provide Feedback
Robyn Thiessen, @robynthissen
Teacher, School District #36-Surrey, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
1:1 devices, Blended learning classroom, and High ELL population

After working with primary age students for many years, I was given the opportunity to move into a grade 4/5 combination class to work with students just a bit older than I was used to. One of the main things that I observed was the shift in student mentality from working to learn to working to earn(letter grades). I was frustrated in this shift of thinking and began to explore alternate forms of recording and communicating student learning. When I discovered Freshgrade, I was better able to design learning opportunities for my students without attaching letter grades. Students were able to document their learning and record their thinking digitally. Parents were able to view their child's work and have meaningful conversations with their children about learning and school.

Product Use: In my classroom Freshgrade is used to document student learning and growth over time. It allows me to to provide just in time feedback to students. Students record learning/thinking artifacts using an iPad and attach it to an I can….., I will… I know… statement or they upload artifacts that they feel are significant representations of there learning. Freshgrade is also my Communicating Student Learning(report card) document. I do not send home a paper document.

What Worked and What Didn't: I was part of a group of educators from Surrey that were providing feedback to Freshgrade about the product. When I first began using it, there wasn't student input, parent input or reliable video input. So that didn't work. However, am excited by the product that Freshgrade has become and is becoming. I love that my students and parents are able to interact with each other and with me. The ability of educator's to choose and design the product to suit there needs is a game changer! I really appreciate that the people behind the product have listened to educators have worked hard to design a product to meet their needs.

Age Group: Elementary school students

Aug 15, 2016 Provide Feedback
Michele, @MGreenehansen
Secondary FSL Teacher Grades 9 to 12, Greene-Hansen, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
1:1 devices

Students were not taking responsibility for their own learning in my French second-language classroom. They claimed that they didn't understand the material; didn't know what materials or activities we had done that would help them; and would then give up and not try. So no learning took place. I needed a way to show students what they had and had not completed in order to master the new material and have them be accountable for their work. They needed a tangible way to see how completing the formative activities leading up to the summative activity would improve their understanding of the material. I also needed a way to communicate with parents to let them know how their child was doing and what he or she was doing.

Product Use: I started by simply having students document what they had done: take a pic of your completed chart, record yourself reading your journal out loud in French, screenshot and upload results from an online, educational app. Student portfolios then became a bottomless pit -- just take a pic of your work and never see it again. It was great for me because I had lots of evidence of how much students were and were not doing but it didn't improve the learning. I then had students go back through through their work, identify in their own work what they could have done better, then do a similar, but different, activity that let them improve on their own weaknesses. That's when I saw improvement. Parental contact helped tremendously. It was easy to reach many parents every day. They were thrilled to see how their children improved. They were also disappointed to learn their children did not complete the self-assessment activity or didn't complete a classroom activity that would have helped them complete the next step. Some motivation from 'Mom' often helped. Suddenly, everyone's marks made sense to themselves and to their parents. It was all there...theei successes as well as the meager attempts.

What Worked and What Didn't: In general, the app works well. It was slick and easy to use. Few technical glitches that left me hanging in the classroom. From a pedagogical standpoint, it worked tremendously well in helping students look back through their own work, identify what they needed to improve and improve it. It also helped the parent/classroom relationship. I take pics for fun (like when the principal comes in with a birthday treat and sings Happy Birthday) and send them home. Parents of high school students love that, too. FreshGrade provides so many webinars, a great bank of how-tos, and quick responses on questions emailed in that anything that doesn't work will soon work. A glitch sent out hundreds of notifications to my students. The problem was solved in two days and a package of gifts to make it up to my students was sent to us. We were well taken care of.

Age Group: High school students

Aug 10, 2016 Provide Feedback
Cari, @kayakcari
Teacher / District Digital Support Specialist, SD 45 West Vancouver, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
1:1 devices, Bring your own devices (BYOD), Project-based classroom, and High ELL population

I teach Grade 7 French and often have my students do oral presentations. I find it very hard to evaluate the presentations while I am watching/listening to them and I dislike using class time to have all the other students watch each presentation. In addition, I always feel badly for working parents who can rarely get to school to watch their child's presentation.

Product Use: To solve my problem, I put students in small groups to do their presentations. While one student presents, another is responsible for recording it on and iPad or student phone. The students then make sure each presentation is uploaded to the presenter's FreshGrade account. This allows me to assess the presentation later, when I can really give it my full attention. I then have time to give more meaningful feedback. Presentations take up less valuable class time, students can review their presentation to look for ways they could improve or things they did well and parents can watch the presentation, leave their own feedback and feel as if they are a more vital part of what is happening in the classroom.

What Worked and What Didn't: So far, this has worked really well for my students and me! The only glitch we have is that sometimes the loading of the video takes longer than we would like, or a video doesn't load the first time. We've learned not to delete the videos off the devices until we're sure it's loaded onto FreshGrade properly. The other thing I've learned is that I need to give parents some fairly strict guidelines about what type of comments to leave but I think that's been a great part of the learning process for everyone!

Age Group: Middle school students and Elementary school students

Aug 10, 2016 Provide Feedback
Silvia, @mszanatta
Grade 7 Teacher, SD36, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
Bring your own devices (BYOD), Project-based classroom, Special education students, High ELL population, and Low income population

Making learning more meaningful for students, and getting parents to be more engaged. Also, finding a more effective way to report progress that allowed for real progress.

Product Use: I use FreshGrade to show student progress, through photos of work, videos and student relections in written form. I also link apps that document learning to student portfolios. Commenting on work and progress is done by me, kids, and parents. I use an ipad and computer, and kids use ipads and iposd, as well as laptops.

What Worked and What Didn't: There have been a time or two when something would not upload, or the spinning wheel just kept going and would not upolad anything. But it is pretty trouble free when uploading. One thing that happens a lot is that kids are writing a long comment and all of a sudden their workds disappear. That happened a lot this year when using PCs.

Age Group: Elementary school students

Aug 9, 2016 Provide Feedback
Anonymous
Kindergarten teacher, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
Special education students and High ELL population

I was trying to improve communication with parents of students in my classroom.

Product Use: I use the product to document, store photographs and send messages to the parents of my students. They receive daily updates, pictures of their children, home reflection questions and special reminders and announcements through the app.

What Worked and What Didn't: What works well in my kindergarten classroom is the ability to take and store pictures, add comments and send them to parents. I can add a quick note to let parents know what their children may need to work on it or even to let them know that their child has mastered a skill. I haven't found anything that does not work with this app.

Age Group: Elementary school students

Aug 6, 2016 Provide Feedback
James, @jmcconville1000
Middle School Teacher, Coquitlam School District, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
1:1 devices, Bring your own devices (BYOD), Project-based classroom, and Blended learning classroom

As a teacher, I have always valued student portfolios. For me, ideally, portfolios are a place where students create a multimedia rich story of their learning. They can showcase their highlights along with areas of growth. Students and their parents can view and reflect on work and experiences in the classroom and beyond. Learning over a school year or many years can showcase the growth and development of a learner.
While there are plenty of educational reasons to develop portfolios, it can take a lot of time and effort to create something of quality. This past year I tried out a new platform called FreshGrade. It has been an excellent overall experience with great feedback from students and parents.

Product Use: FreshGrade is a multimedia repository of photos, videos, documents and notes about a student. There are many ways to contribute to the portfolios. I can post through the website or on any Android or iOS app. At the middle school level, many of my students have wifi enabled personal smartphone devices and laptops. Using their own devices, they do most of the posting. Take for example a common experience such as a school assembly. I can quickly snap a photo of a performance and then students all provide their personal reflections and notes. Parents then get an email to view the photo and reflections where they can add a comment.
Here is another example. Let's say in our PE class we are working on our dance unit. With a few clicks, I can capture and upload a video of the student performing their creative dance. The student and parent can see and enjoy the video and post comments.

What Worked and What Didn't: A common hesitation to trying a new tool in the classroom is the time it takes a teacher to learn and manage. The advantage I've discovered has been how much FreshGrade has changed my practice. There are a number of other tasks that FreshGrade has allowed me to stop doing. For example, I used to have a public teacher website where I posted lessons, a calendar and assignments. I've now moved all the notices and assignment descriptions into FreshGrade. This allows students to login and review criteria whenever they want. I no long need a paper gradebook of marks. I've exclusively used the mastery scale for student work and assess with language like fully meeting, exceeding and meeting expectations. I can also give meaningful feedback to help students improve on future assignments.

Age Group: Middle school students

Aug 5, 2016 Provide Feedback
Anonymous
High School Art Teacher, Massachusetts
1:1 devices, Bring your own devices (BYOD), Project-based classroom, and Blended learning classroom

Finding an place to have students upload their work, where I could give feedback and students would have a portfolio of their work. I wasn't looking for a traditional grading system as I do not assign points or average grades. Students conference with me about their learning, so I needed a place where they could collect evidence of their learning/understanding.

Product Use: I teach high school art. I started using FreshGrade 3 semesters ago. Students portfolios are set up with week ending dates. Each week they post work that they have done. It may be sketches, research, works in progress, as well as finished work. They also use the comment section to reflect on what they have done and what standards they are addressing. I have a simple system to acknowledge their entry and if it is complete or not, then I respond to their work in the comments section. when we conference students have a body of evidence to show me what they have done. Some days I don't get a chance to physically get around to all the students. This gives me a place to provide feedback before too much time has passed. Students are able to share their work with their parents/guardians and when it's time for parent conferences it's easy to see where the student is at. My whole department is now using FreshGrade. I am also able to attach notices, videos, tutorials, hand-outs, inspiration, exemplars to the whole class and know that they are all receiving the information.

What Worked and What Didn't: It is difficult to provide written feedback to150+ students each day. FreshGrade gives me a place to do this, whether it's detailed or just a quick note. One difficulty is simply getting the students to keep up with regular updates. It is new to them, but the last semester, students were really catching on. It's so convenient that they can use their phones to document their work and post it to their portfolio. Having the student work on one page and being able to see the growth over time is invaluable. Students are also willing to write and reflect more, the comment section is an easy place to do that. The developers and support staff are always willing to listen to ideas and incorporate changes. Some ways of grading were a bit cumbersome in the beginning but that has changed now with improvements to the program. Creating a customized grading system with visuals allows me to add a quick note that students can glance at quickly to see if their entry is complete or if they need more information. Each update makes the program better. The video yearbook is a great feature to highlight some great moments.

Age Group: High school students

Aug 5, 2016 Provide Feedback
Sarah, MrsBaxter55
kindergarten teacher, Surrey School District, Other / None of the Above (I work outside of the United States)
High ELL population and Low income population

I was writing regular learning stories for each child and it was taking copious amounts of time after working hours. I wanted to ensure each child was able to bring home photos and evidence of their learning in the classroom. I have a very play-based program and I wanted to ensure that the parents knew how much learning occurs with the absence of worksheets and rote activities.
This program has allowed me to open my classroom to my families with constant documentation of learning, sharing photos of successes, big and small, and setting goals with student involvement! I am able to document and send in the moment! Students help me take photos, they also choose moments that they feel represent their learning that they want to celebrate too! The program allows my students and families to know exactly where they are at and what they need to work on. I love how transparent it allows my teaching to be!

Product Use: Each day I take photos of my students learning and upload it to FreshGrade. I choose certain activities for each subject that I want to document to share the learning that the students are involved in. I open up an activity file, give a brief description, add a core competency and curriculum objective(s) then add a photo! I assess using a lot of anecdotal notes but you can create your own marking scale that best suits your teaching style.
Parents sign up for emails and reminders. They get notifications and updates to check their child's e-portfolio. They can view their child's learning progress and continue the conversation at home, as well as make comments in the portfolio.

What Worked and What Didn't: FreshGrade is constantly updating the program and request feedback to better their program so any situations that have arose have been fixed!

Age Group: Elementary school students

Aug 5, 2016 Provide Feedback
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