As teachers, we constantly find ourselves wishing there were a way to fully encapsulate what we see in the classroom. There are so many moments of greatness and so many more opportunities for growth that we capture mentally, but it’s near ­impossible to communicate these moments to the parents of the children we teach. What’s more, there could be powerful learning implications for students being involved in a “third­-person” review of their own performance. That is, if we could find a way to have students step outside themselves and self-­evaluate their own work from another’s point of view.

Parents often only get one side of the story: their child’s. While we would hope that everything being relayed home is positive and wonderful, how many times can you recall the following interchange:

“How was school today?”
“What did you do?”
“Did you learn anything new?”

Obviously, as this conversation repeats itself through a school year, at some point we have to acknowledge the hyperbole in our young learner’s interchange with their parent. Report cards are often too­-little­-too­-late and don’t really give a very complete picture of where the student excels and where they could use more help. Can we really simplify hours and hours of learning and practice into a single number or letter? What if we had a way to actually watch a learner develop their skills? What if we could check in along the way and provide real­time support? What if the communication line between parent and educator were truly open?

Enter FreshGrade. FreshGrade is a Learning Collaboration System that helps educators document student learning and progress through photo, video, work samples, and more. Parents can be notified on their smartphone when an update is made and actually see what’s taking place, instead of trying to decipher what it even means to get an 84 on last night’s homework. The teacher can take pictures of the learners in action, record audio or typed notes, or even shoot a video of what learning looks like for the day, posting them securely, viewable to just the one student’s parents, groups of parents, or to the whole class, at the discretion of the teacher.

If we stop and listen to ourselves, we will notice how often we talk about the need for parent-­teacher-school partnerships. We will become aware of our desire for the day’s learning to extend beyond just the short time we have in class and we will be able to recognize that no one group can do it alone. We need something that facilitates that kind of communication and moves us towards a true learning partnership. FreshGrade looks to be just that.

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