“FreshGrade is not Facebook.”
In reflecting on what we’ve learned as a district in using FreshGrade to communicating student learning, this thought came to mind… “FreshGrade is NOT Facebook”.
We’ve observed and heard from many educators across the district around their so called “Fresh-strations” (a term coined by our very own District Ed-Tech Consultant Graham Johnson that refers to the frustrations educators sometimes have in using FreshGrade). Some of these “Fresh-strations” include:
- Parents aren’t logging into FreshGrade
- Parents don’t post comments on their child’s portfolio
- Posting pictures/videos for each student in my class/classes takes so much time
Reflecting on these “Fresh-strations” led to an epiphany that is worth sharing… “FreshGrade is not Facebook”.
Before FreshGrade even came along, many of us have had experiences in using the Social Media platform, Facebook, and I believe that our experiences with Facebook have sometimes negatively influenced how we’ve viewed and gone about using FreshGrade.
Here are 5 ways that FreshGrade is NOT Facebook:
(1) It’s not about the “likes”.
We often view how successful or impactful a post on Facebook has been based off the # of “likes” and “comments”. However, FreshGrade was not designed for this. FreshGrade was designed to communicate student learning and deepen the conversations that happen at home between parents and their children. My sister for example, rarely comments on my nephew’s posts. However, she’s a big fan of FreshGrade. Every single day when she picks up her son, they talk and reflect on the FreshGrade posts on the drive home. She doesn’t see the need to get on the computer at 10pm to post on FreshGrade. The whole point was to deepen the conversation between parent and child and the car ride home did that in spades.
(2) It’s not about getting the perfect picture/video.
A trend we see with Facebook is people spending way too much time getting the perfect picture/video (here’s a recent news article on that very topic). However, we’ve realized that a picture/video artifact is nowhere near as important as the reflection on that piece of learning evidence. A picture of some students smiling doesn’t always (a) clearly communicate the learning and/or (b) involve the student meaningfully reflecting on the learning experience itself. Sometimes we catch ourselves looking for that “perfect” picture/video or even asking students to “redo” something that they just did so you can capture it. This is definitely one of the ways that FreshGrade is not Facebook. The evidence of learning is important, but it’s significantly more important that it is authentic (i.e. it’s okay if it’s not the perfect picture/video) and that it involves the opportunity for the student to reflect on his or her own learning.
(3) It’s not just for the parents.
Often we hear of frustrations that parents aren’t engaging with FreshGrade. I touched upon this in #1, but it’s important to note that FreshGrade is not just for parents. First and foremost, FreshGrade was designed to deepen student learning through reflection. Is it important that we encourage parents to interact with their child’s FreshGrade e-portfolio? Absolutely! However, it is much more important that the students themselves are interacting with their own e-portfolio. Our goal in education is to develop lifelong learners. Learners that can self-reflect and articulate what they are doing well and what their next steps are in their own learning journey. If we as educators are doing all the posting and only parents are interacting with those posts, then we’ve missed out on the most important players in all this: the students.
(4) Less is more.
It’s mind-boggling to think about how much some people post on social media. I just recently read an article from Reader’s Digest on that very topic. One thing we’ve learned when it comes to using FreshGrade to communicate student learning is that “less is more”. Instead of focusing on posting dozens and dozens of artifacts, it’s most important that we focus on posts that are richer, meatier, and involve deeper student reflection and formative feedback from educators and parents.
(5) Not all reflection should occur online.
In an effort to communicate student learning with FreshGrade, we sometimes see that we’ve swung the pendulum too far the other way (i.e in that we are trying to have all reflection occur online). There are times when it’s appropriate to post a piece of learning evidence and have the reflection occur online, however, the vast majority of student reflection and formative feedback should occur “offline” throughout the school day. Going back to post #2, the true value comes in having students reflect on their own learning on an ongoing basis (and if anything more often than not, it should happen face-to-face, in real-time).
So let’s be sure to not treat FreshGrade like Facebook. In doing so, we can hopefully avoid running into all those “Fresh-strations”.