South-East New Brunswick, Canada
15,803 (largest school district in New Brunswick)
The district contains 37 schools.
Anglophone East School District wanted to give parents a clearer picture of the learning and assessment process happening in their classrooms. They needed a tool that was robust enough to meet all their needs, yet user friendly for all users to learn quickly.
However, they had a variety of use cases that had to be addressed: techy teachers, music instructors, and late adopters alike. After a short learning curve, Anglophone East teachers harnessed the full power of FreshGrade (students and parents did, too).
Several teachers in the Anglophone East school district shared the same challenge: parents wanted a glimpse into the daily activities happening in their children’s classes. While traditional reporting through parent-teacher conferences and report cards provided a general sense of students’ performance, these traditional measures can miss the daily details of classroom events. They fail to tell the stories of the important learning moments that school is all about.
Jill Culligan, teacher at Edith Cavell School in the Anglophone East District, hears the same comment frequently:
“When talking to parents, they’re always wondering what is my kid doing all day.”
JILL CULLIGAN, MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER
Sondra Kitchen, a science and math teacher at Mountain View School realized that parents were not satisfied with only seeing the product of their children’s learning; they want to see the process, too. “They’ll see the tests coming home or the rubrics or the teachers’ comments, but they really don’t have any idea of what was going on in the classroom.”
When the district adopted Freshgrade, teachers worked hard to learn the platform quickly. This was a shift in the way learning was documented and reported. Teachers soon discovered the best way to implement Freshgrade into their classrooms, and explored the user experience for students, parents, and themselves.
“I often had my own personal email linked up to some of my students’ account so that I could see what they were seeing and what their parents were seeing as well. I also put my own child in my class so that I would be able to kind of see what it looked like from a parent’s perspective,” Sondra noted, explaining her process for becoming acclimated to the app.
Once it got rolling, the time that I saved with parent communication and setting up tasks for my students, assessing their work, it was really immeasurable.
SONDRA KITCHEN, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER
Lisa Graves, kindergarten teacher at Mountain View School, began using Freshgrade to send documentation to parents, but as she became more familiar with the platform, she began sharing curricular material with parents, too. She noted that eventually, “It was easier for me to say, ‘Okay, maybe I could add some curriculum, and maybe parents could help out at home with some things.’” This was how she realized the power that Freshgrade could have on her instruction.
The immediate benefit of not relying on paper was paired with a struggle to use the technology for Chris Mersereau. Chris, who teaches music at Petitcodiac Regional School, explained:
It was a bit of a learning curve at first, but once I got around that, it was fantastic. I mean, now I don’t have hardly anything on paper. Everything is all digital. Everything’s in the student portfolio.
CHRIS MERSEREAU, HIGH SCHOOL & MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER
A theme that echoed across Anglophone teachers was how fast their students learned to use Freshgrade. While some teachers anticipated multiple lessons on various features, teachers were pleasantly surprised that students soon used Freshgrade autonomously, and even began showing teachers a thing or two.
Chris found that taking the time to learn Freshgrade brought a great return on investment. He offered advice to teachers starting out, suggesting “give yourself some time. If you feel pressure, just wait. Make sure it’s a good time for you to start using it. Do simple assignments. Just collecting something from students and checking it is enough to learn how it works.”
Both Sondra and Jill first used Freshgrade as a class routine. Sondra’s class gathered weekly to upload work to Freshgrade. While this helped students use the platform, it was not conducive to a quality assessment process. Too much work uploaded at once left teachers overwhelmed with trying to read and comment on everything.
After students learned the platform, an authentic assessment process began. “As time went on, the kids got really effective at deciding on their own what was valuable and what was key to their growth without permission or a set time,” Sondra said.
Chris now offers students a set of requirements and due dates, and lets students figure out the best path. Chris said, “If they choose to do one thing over another, then I find they buy into it more because they have choice.”
Now that Anglophone East has adopted Freshgrade, teachers experience the power that comes with giving parents a glimpse into their children’s daily learning process. “With FreshGrade, you can give the parents a window right into the class where they can see the kids planning, they can see them failing, they can see them making mistakes, and then they can see them grow with the product at the end of that whole process.”
Lisa shared a heartwarming story of the way Freshgrade impacted a parent-child relationship, recounting a mother who watched videos of Lisa doing a guided reading lesson in class. The mother told her “Thank you very, very much for teaching me how to teach my own son.” Lisa realized “that’s an opportunity for me to be a catalyst to send that information to the parent and she can then practice it at home.”
One of the surprising benefits of Freshgrade for Chris is the way that it has improved parent-teacher conferences. Chris believes that some teachers dread conferences, but he now looks forward to them. He shows parents the slideshow that Freshgrade creates to share work from their portfolio. “The conversation becomes about their work, and how they’re doing. And usually, the entire time is spent just looking at their portfolio.”
Sondra has noticed the same benefit – an abundance of evidence of learning – at the end of the grading period. “ When it came to report card time, I actually had more in front of me to really clarify and make sure I was making the right choices and how I was marking and assessing.”
Looking ahead, Lisa is involved in a kindergarten play pilot in the Anglophone East District. She appreciates the flexibility that Freshgrade offers in documenting social emotional learning, literacy, numeracy, and all of the standards that the class is working through.
I can do conversations, or I can do observations, as opposed to just an end product. And FreshGrade really allows me to move in that direction, of more just whole learner assessment pieces, which I’m really happy to have.
LISA GRAVES, KINDERGARTEN TEACHER