Barbara Sveistrup and Jolene Olsen’s kindergarten classes at Davidson Road Elementary in SD23 were busy this year introducing new technology to their already robust list of teaching tools and skills. Both classes are full of focussed energy and activity. It is obvious that both teachers take great pride in what they do. Both classes are ultra-organized, full of colour, and activity. The iPads that were introduced to the classroom only helped to add an additional layer of engagement to these positive learning environments. Similar to most classrooms throughout the province, Jolene and Barbara were looking for a way to utilize technology to demonstrate student learning as well as a way to improve their own teaching toolkit. The end result is that they explored the use of FreshGrade in their teaching and learned many new iPad applications as well.
The very nature of FreshGrade as a new tool makes its use somewhat uncharted. This created many challenges for the group. Barbara and Jolene explored with enthusiasm how they could use its features and functions in their kindergarten classes. They developed their knowledge base of the application and then applied it to their classroom curriculum. This meant learning new apps and getting to know how to use the iPads in detail. It also meant that they had to teach parents how to use FreshGrade and trust that these young students could use the iPads successfully. Their students dove into opportunities to use the iPads and parents appreciated the connection FreshGrade allowed them to the classroom. Now they could see all the small steps their children were making in class.
Barbara and Jolene have already started planning when and how they will utilize FreshGrade next year. They will tie it in closely with their lessons and also are planning to share what they have learned with their school colleagues as well as collaborating with schools throughout the Kelowna district.
Before the SET-BC Tier 2 Classroom-based Solution was introduced, Barbara and Jolene would attend conferences on FreshGrade; however, the conferences only showed a snapshot of past learning and activities. They also tried newsletters and emails. Having iPads in their classroom allowed them hands-on practice and real-time integration with the technology. Moreover, before this year, parents had less involvement in their child’s learning because they were not able to see what was happening in the classroom. Students were not able to share their discoveries and new understanding with their parents as they often ‘forget’ what happened at school by the time they get home. The evidence from this year suggests that FreshGrade promotes more dialogue about learning.
One student recently remarked, “This is fun. I can’t wait to show this to my family.” While a parent said, “Thank you for sharing and keeping us involved. I feel I know the strengths and emerging skills of my child. I can see improvement in their learning.” Another teacher in the school that also uses FreshGrade said, “I feel a stronger home to school connection.”
Barbara and Jolene will be using Big Ideas to organize student learning on FreshGrade. They will continue to use “I can…” statements to capture their students’ learning. Not only is the technology linking home and school, but FreshGrade is also helping to link colleagues that are using or learning about the technology. This sort of exchange of information truly helps puts the young learners at Davidson on the road to success!