In Shelly Chandra’s grade 4 classroom at Fraserwood Elementary, students are learning how to identify their own “Success in Progress”. Students select, reflect, and share their learning in FreshGrade using a blend of devices provided by SET-BC, the school, and a new BYOD program at the school.
Shelly explains how FreshGrade is part of a Surrey school district initiative involving implementation of digital portfolios. “We’re learning together and that’s half the fun. They are such a great class to be my willing guinea pigs this year.”
Students use the ‘Literacy Lounge’ to read their own writing and select their best works in an eclectic collection of comfortable chairs. When asked about her approach to incorporating FreshGrade into her teaching practice, she shares, “It is for learning. It’s what we learned. It’s how we learned”. But the emphasis is not only for finished exemplary work, “We’re sharing what we’re thinking about. How we think about our learning”. Shelly also encourages and supports the students in being selective, as “FreshGrade is not a scrapbook for everything, it is used with intention”.
Portfolios can be done without technology, but there is a new level of engagement and ownership over their learning when using FreshGrade. “In the past, work would be shoved into a duo-tang and never seen again”. The technology makes it possible to make learning visible and share like never before. Parents are able to see and comment on things they couldn’t in the past. A short video of a yoga lesson is recorded and parents are able to immediately comment. They clearly appreciate being able to share and have greater insight into the great things happening in the classroom.
Prior to their time to reflect and use FreshGrade, Shelly and her students add a list of recent lessons and activities to the board. They discuss what was learned, how they learned it, why it mattered. Their attention is drawn to an anchor chart of various prompts to guide their reflections. Shelly herself reflects that “our focus is on thinking about thinking and they need a little bit of a plan.”
As their teacher it hasn’t been the easiest experience. “My learning curve has been straight up,” Shelly remarks, “vertical . . . a non-curved curve. They see that I am learning so that shows we never finish learning.”