Day 132 (of 184) eportfolio launch quick feedback
In education t’s always nerve-wracking when you try something for the first time. I remember when I first tossed spelling tests for ‘making words games’ and talking with parents about how writing (and spelling) actually got better than memorizing 20 words for a week (where many kids who would ‘ace the test’ would have no carry over into the next week). This month we officially ‘opened’ the parent portal to our eportfolios (or specifically the app we are piloting @freshgrade was confident enough to release the methodology or parent/student viewing & commenting.
Sometimes timing is key, and much as Club Penguin (there’s a link between the apps) came around at a great time to help teach students how to use social media FreshGrade is here to help educators make the shift from ‘reporting student achievement’ (typically summative assessment translated by task completion to a letter grade or percentage on a report card) to ‘communicating student learning’ (which includes descriptive feedback on a variety of formative -and summative- learning activities; many of which cannot be fully ‘seen’ on a report card).
While report cards have well documented weaknesses (including the reliability of % based on non-norm referenced assessment materials) and tell ‘part of the story’ – there is much that they miss.
As one of my parents told me today: to hear the progress my son has made in reading (with the support of a speech pathologist) brought a year to the eye – the reflective piece is so valuable – and moving from a C- to a C or a “2” to another “2” (but a higher two!!) doesn’t allow for the practical growth to be seen and celebrated.
As principal the usual feedback I get from parents at assessment time is critiques about the ‘mark’ that was given/earned/reported/received. With the eportfolio in actually receiving positive feedback about ….. (wait for it) …… the LEARNING that is occurring in the classrooms.
On TV I’ve recently seen a number of shows demonstrate some key misconceptions: parents asking if ‘more work can be done’ to boost a mark or if work can be ‘redone’ or how to earn ‘bonus marks’ or what the learner can do to be ‘better liked and therefore get better marks’. Most of these would drive gurus like @kenoc7 wild. Redos are okay but there needs to be differentiation between behaviour and learning. But best of all from what I’ve seen is descriptive feedback (even as simple as two stars & a wish) on actual samples of students ‘showing what they know’.
Now parents can share their child’s portfolio with family members thanks to a simple password. And now student speeches can be heard. Writing and art commented on (which my own eldest daughter currently does not let me do) and no worries of things going missing.
A highlight for me continues to be the transition of one of my teachers husbands who was ‘reluctant’ about this shift. But after seeing it, he wants less numbers (as a variety of assessment tools are available on this app) and more descriptive feedback.
Best of all to me was hearing how many families have spent time looking at the learning journeys together. Not counting 3s 4s As and Bs but talking about learning.
Now our learning community is getting ready to share our own journey with our board of trustees. We are looking forward to hearing their views on what we are doing and seeing where we go with it next. Though I know for myself, I’ve always liked generating electronic portfolios of student learning but it has never been as ‘live and interactive’ as the FreshGrade app is enabling us to be!
More to follow!