I am really enjoying using the FreshGrade.com website and Quick Capture App. This tool set is easy for me to use and collect information about and for students. When the class is on task, I can walk around the class in less than 8 minutes, and take 6 photos, attach a snapshot of their group activity and add a comment.
I am just starting to push information or highlights to parents as I am doing this. I love that I can capture learning experiences, rather than final products.
I am working with the School in the Communicating Student Learning pilot to develop a template to communicate with parents. It has been a great process to look at what we believe is valuable, as well as what the district believe is valuable.
Several ‘Ah ha’ moments:
– Much of the ministry language is too high level for parents to understand
– It is very hard to report on core competencies that deal with student identity as learners and in groups. (It is personal and I am not in their heads to know their thinking.)
– Reporting with standard areas or concepts is also challenging. Many students are Not Yet Meeting with language or Numeracy skills. (I have over half the class in both areas 2 or more years behind.)
– Being honest with comments is time consuming when they are highly subjective areas such as creativity, critical thinking or personal and social learning.
– Concepts such as ‘uses a variety of text to’… In the first report most haven’t used a variety of texts enough to form an assessment.
– ‘But’ in a comment essentially says ignore what I just said
We are following the idea of having the same information in each report card from previous terms to show change over time. I think this will be a logistical nightmare come term 2. My report cards span 150 pages currently. This could be scrolling through the 150 pages numerous times to update the next term information…. I have some experience with Mail Merge documents, so I can actually just adjust the template and store the remainder of the information in an excel document (that is already cumbersome, but I will just be adding new columns next time.)
Overall I have enjoyed the process of looking deeply at reporting. As a school we identified what was important in our view, what would parents want to see, and how do we communicate that clearly to a high ELL parent population.
(Here is a generic version of what I used.) Generic Report Template
I look forward to the next iteration. I am personally thinking that a 2 page cover letter that is the same for all my students that includes the learning that occurred and generalized comments about struggles and areas of growth would be best. Then for each student we could have them provide a self assessment on the core competencies, with setting goals for the next term, and finally to provide teacher comments that are succinct.
Student is struggling with
Student success included:
Areas to focus on include:
Actually planning a piece of evidence for every NYM, Developing, Meeting, or Exceeding was a massive undertaking. Working with students to review their learning and enter their comments on a form was all done in a day. Providing individual comments on 4 or more areas of learning absorbed extensive amounts of time. (I want to be honest, fair, supportive, encouraging, realistic and understood.)
(I was able to efficiently do the previous report card template with check boxes and limited comments. I feel that this new method is better and provides more meaningful information.)
Reports go out this week followed by Parent Teacher interviews. Will see how this goes.